With popular new Midrand restaurant Fridays, Zenzele Fitness offices in the Sandton Discovery building and homes in affluent Johannesburg suburbs such as Bryanston and Waterfall in their portfolio. I spoke to the one half of Blaque Pearl Lifestyle, Siyabesho Thuta who is also known as Siabesho Thuta about the Interior Design landscape in South Africa.
One of my favourite quotes reads that nothing we decide on in life is permanent. This is true for Siabesho Tutha who went from being a corporate guy to a successful Interior Designer. The Interior Design industry is often thought of as a white woman’s industry. But people like Siya and Zimkitha are doing amazing for representation in the business of spaces.
With close to five years as a fulltime Interior Designer and Entrepreneur. Siyabesho left his lucrative career in finance to pursue a career as an Interior Designer alongside his close friend Zimkita Sidumo. Together they founded Blaque Pearl Lifestyle and many may know them from the ‘Win a Home Design Edition’.
Blaque Pearl Lifestyle is a fully integrated interior designing and decor company that looks at full turnkey solutions to create amazing interior spaces. It is driven by two directors that have different styles but merge them well. With Zimkita Sidumo luxe style and Siya’s eclectic palate. They indeed offer their clients a great deal of variety in terms of the spaces they design.
“I don’t think you should wait or start with other careers before getting to your main passion.” -Siabesho
Whilst working as a Financial Planner at a South African casino. He studied a part-time Interior Design (Passion) at Inscape Design College. After this, Blaque Pearl Lifestyle started as a side-hustle.
He asserts that as much as the passion to be an Interior Designer was there. The transition from the stability of a nine-to-five to being your boss wasn’t easy. After much thought him and his business partner decided to ‘gradually’ leave their careers in finance to follow their passion and give their full attention to their business.
“We started building our profile by doing our clients’ houses after hours and sometimes stealing time whilst at work to do some of my work. As the profile grew, there was more demand for us to be on-site and doing more things for clients. As a result, that gradually led to us becoming a full-time company,” he says.
A lot of people are apprehensive about getting into business with friends or family. But the way that Siya described how they turned their ‘hang out’ sessions into a lucrative business is testament FOR businesses built on passion and friendship.
As much as he asserted that indeed it doesn’t always work with everyone. He says that the recipe for success between the two of them is that they were quite grounded in their friendship and also their ability to separate business from their personal lives.
With a wide scope of clients ranging from residential, offices, restaurants, and homes. After a deep breath, he chose Fridays Restaurant and GEN 22 On Sloane in Bryanston as his favourite spaces that they have designed. Being a true creative, the reason he chose these spaces is that corporate and restaurant clients give them a brief alongside creative freedom. In contrast to homes, where people are specific in terms of what they want.
With the rise of more black creatives in all creative industries, I argued that Interior Design to a certain extent still remains a white-dominated industry. In agreement, he posits that since starting in 2014, there are more black designers penetrating the ID market and this is the direct consequence of the ‘industry becoming more receptive to black talent, he added.
To end this article, I asked him a few questions.
Q: Who some of the people that you look up to?
Q: Entrepreneurship or Working for someone else?
A: As someone with an entrepreneurial spirit, I push for entrepreneurship as it allows one to grow more because you wear different hats versus someone who works for someone else and does one specific job.
When I asked if people should rather pursue the traditional career route before getting into Interior Design. We concluded our conversation by him advising that people get into it as soon as possible because he imagines that they’d be much further in terms of enjoying the space had they started their journey at an earlier stage.