Justin Matenda is the 28 year-old man behind a fashion brand that has taken Harare by storm. He is the young marketer who is raking in money selling a clothing line named after President Robert Mugabe.
House of Gushungo is a fashion label which celebrates the person of Mugabe. It is trademarked by his signature and named after his totem Gushungo.
Matenda is the marketing director of Yedu Nesu Private Limited which incorporates House of Gushungo.
Matenda and his friend Allan Mpisa (26) the company’s marketing executive said they had a dream to create a fashion label and found one in Mugabe.
“It’s an idea that came to our minds and took us sometime to realise what we really wanted to do with it. We later realised that our President is somebody who has done a lot for the country, for the continent and has made a lot of difference globally and in honouring him we thought why not introduce something that would outlive him and even our own generation,” said Matenda.
“People relate to fashion in their everyday lives and it resonates with a lot of people and in his honour (Mugabe) as a revolutionary, cultural icon and as a social leader and as a president par excellence we decided we need to take this up.”
Yedu Nesu was never in the business of fashion but Matenda said, they had no choice but to start fashion label themes around the person of the President because it came up as a good business opportunity.
“Honestly we can’t say it was our core business, our core business is something that is totally different. We are marketers but we have now realised that we have good entrepreneurial skills. We can easily notice any marketable thing,” said Matenda adding that he was inspired by Mugabe’s personality.
At that point Mpisa jumped in saying, “The President is always smartly dressed, always wearing designer suits, he is always on point so we decided we have a brand which cater for all ages groups, we have a splash of youthful attitude, something for the older people, designer shirts, we always look to the president for smart inspiration.”
Apart from the House of Gushungo the duo offers marketing services to several local companies.
Matenda said they had not sold anything from the fashion range which ranges from t-shirts, berets, shirts , ties, suits and other paraphenalia to Mugabe but his children has.
“He gave us his blessings. It got to his attention that we are doing this and he gave us his blessings,” said Matenda.“We were impressed that he appreciates what we are doing, at his 88th birthday I managed to notice that his sons Robert and Chatunga were wearing our products.”
The former Berejena High School student said they hope to continue cashing in on Gushungo and grow the brand into a global fashion line.
“The demand is higher than our supplies, we are operating at a small to medium scale but we want to grow not only in Zimbabwe but in Africa as a whole and beyond the continent,” said Matenda.
His colleague Mpisa said he believes they have made a fashion line for every Zimbabwean.
“Our products are reasonably prized, they are just a line of some of the world class brands sold in town,” said Mpisa of the products whose prices range from $10 for berets and $25 for golf t-shirts.
Although the brand has largely been popular among Zanu (PF) members with the party’s commissar and Minister of Information and Publicity, Webster Shamhu appearing as their best marketer, Matenda said they count every Zimbabwean as a potential customer.
“Coming up with idea, we are targeting everyone, we want everyone who can feel patriotic about their country to have this as their brand,”said Matenda adding that“ it’s an idea of the moment.”
He has big plans for the business and plans to open a factory to make the clothes which are currently sourced from China at home.
“We would want to have our own factory here at home and employ many people, create jobs, open many House of Gushungo outlets and empower a lot of people with franchising opportunities,” said Matenda.