In Conversation with: Dobinson Madanha
My name is Dobinson Madanha, but everyone calls me Dobie. I’m a 26-year-old entrepreneur based in Harare. I run an upcoming customized clothing and branding business called Alternative Movement.
How did Alternative Movement come to be?
After I graduated from university I tried a few business projects and all of them failed and I stumbled upon the idea of venturing into the customized clothing business when I least expected it. One day in April 2017 I was in the CBD looking for somewhere to charge my laptop and I went to my cousin’s shop where he was running t-shirt printing business. The shop was very busy and that’s when I realized that the market for personalized clothing was potentially very lucrative. As for the name Alternative Movement, it is a fusion of my two favourite words and I define it as “breaking away from the norm”.
What inspires your custom designs?
The main aim of my business is to make clothing and designs according to my clients’ individual specifications so that hasn’t given me the chance to come up with many personal designs. The custom designs that I produced on a large scale were a fusion of my clients’ ideas and my own. I’m always very open to collaborations.
How has it been working for yourself, what have been the highs and lows?
The best thing about working for myself is the freedom and the satisfaction I get from being directly involved in every single aspect of my business and watching it grow by the day. The downside is things don’t always go according to plan and I have to take full responsibility of any losses the business incurs. The highest moment for me was when I purchased my own production equipment and moved into my own office space. That was less than 6 months after I started the business and that was a very big achievement for me. There have been plenty of lows but the one that hurt the most was when I lost all my stock to burglars just two months into the business. I had to start all over again and it was a very difficult period for me.
Where can be people buy your clothing?
I make most of my sales via my personal Twitter account, @dobie_m, and I recently set up an Instagram page @altmvtclothing. I operate from Office 202 Daventry House, at the corner of South Avenue and Angwa Street for those potential clients that prefer to transact in person.
Describe a typical day in your life.
I work at least 6 days a week and my days are always hectic. My alarm goes off at 6:30 and I leave the house around 8:30. From there it’s a mix of deliveries, meetings, marketing and production till around 19:00 and sometimes as late as 23:00. I never have a straight forward schedule and every single day has a different routine.
How do you keep yourself motivated, when business is slow?
When business is slow I always keep myself busy by marketing my products to potentially new and bigger clients and finding more ways to grow the business. The possibility of striking a bigger deal than the last one is what keeps me going.
What is the one thing that you would give up for a year?
I’m sure I could do without TV for a year.
When are you happiest?
I’m happiest when I cross off a major business objective from my to do list. That shows me that the work I’m putting in is paying off. I’m happy when I get that bank notification too, hahaha.
What are the future plans for Alternative Movement?
My main long-term goal is for Alternative Movement to become one of the biggest clothing manufacturing and branding companies in Zimbabwe. The short-term plans are to continue to increase the product range and improve production methods. I’d also love to diversify into agriculture.
What has been your favourite design so far?
My favourite design so far has been the “Zimbabwe Rising” range of t-shirts. That came into production in November 2017 and that was an exciting period in the history of Zimbabwe. Everyone was feeling patriotic and wanted to express how proud they were to be Zimbabwean. The “Zimbabwe Rising” t-shirt was a must have.
Who has been your biggest client?
The business has been growing rapidly and I’ve been getting a lot of big clients. Some of them include Magamba Network, Edurate Investments and Metallon Corporation.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
My advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is quite simply, FORMALISE YOUR HUSTLE!
What is the soundtrack to your life?
Takura’s “Negative Energy”. I listen to it when I feel I don’t have the motivation to keep going.
What are you most proud of about being Zimbabwean?
This has been the most difficult question for me to answer. Zimbabweans have been going through a lot for decades and sometimes it’s difficult to feel proud of our nation. I genuinely don’t know.
How would you like to be remembered?
I’d like to be remembered as someone who was extremely hardworking and committed to fulfilling my dreams.
What is the most important lesson that life has taught you?
Instagram @dobie_m and @altmvtclothing.