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"I Turned my Hobby into my Business"

Phumzile Zelda Nkosi was born in 1976 in Limpopo, previously called Lebowakgomo and moved to Johannesburg at a very young age and currently resides in Vosloorus. She graduated in 2004 on her calling to be a Traditional Healer.

Phumzile Zelda Nkosi

Phumzile runs a bookbinding business also finds the time to work on her project called Inkosazana KaBaba. She started the project in 2011, while she was doing Intermediate Courses at the Market Photo Workshop. While there, Phumzile also participated in exhibitions like indetikit, and Social Landscape project hosted by the Market Photo Workshop. In 2014, She participated in yet another group exhibition called Her Art, hosted by Imba Ya Sari Gallery, situated in Maboneng, during Art Week Joburg. She exhibited her photo series called Inkosazana kaBaba (Daughter of a King), a series about community expectations on how a woman should dress. In this series she expresses that dress code has nothing to do with beliefs, she dresses the way she feels comfortable in.

Her work Inkosazana kaBaba (Daughter of a King) photo series had been published in a China Photo Magazine on July issue 2017. Phumzile was also one of Faces and Phases, by Zanele Muholi.

Phumzile studied Foundation and Intermediate Courses in Photography (2011 – 2012) at the Market Photo Workshop, a school of photography in Newtown, Johannesburg. Late in 2012/2014 she joined Wits School of Language to study English as her second language. She was a part-time teacher at Sibikwa Art Center based in Benoni and was one of the 2016 Market Photo Workshop Second Photo Incubator Programme Facilitators. It was during her facilitating Photography Technical Practical Training and then taught herself how to book bind. Phumzile is one of the 10 photographers who participated at the Photography Conference in France Nime on November 15th – 22nd in 2017, presenting her work Inkosazana KaBaba (Daughter of a King), alongside Zanele Muholi’s Faces and Phases.

QWB+A got to speak with her about how she turned her bookbinding hobby into a business...

So, you run a bookbinding business?

Yes, I make hand made notebooks.

Where do you do it?

I use my bedroom and my mother’s kitchen as my my workspaces because I do not have formal working space or studio to do my work at. I am not yet in a space to rent one out yet. I had great challenges in 2017, so I decided to turn my hobby into my business. I started selling to my friends when I had severe challenges and then late last year, I finally decided to take the business challenge seriously. I am not registered yet, but I am working on it.

Why did you get into book binding?

I learned book binding when I was doing skills development at Phumani Paper. They were offering skills training on home paper-making by hand with recycled paper, at Phumani Paper. I was first introduced to glue paper binding. After that I researched other ways of binding. I learned them and after finding those skills I never looked back. I started making notebooks for my friends and family as gifts. I sold some for extra cash, but I didn’t think of making a business out of it.

How long have you been doing it for?

I have been doing notebook binding for more than 5 years. The first book I made was for my ex wife and I, and, unfortunately she later burned it. I cant recall where the others are and I do not have pictures of them.

Where would you like to see your business in the next five years?

In 5 years, I want to see myself having all the equipment I need to make the business a success. I want a mini store in one of the big malls because that is where my target market is at. I also want one or two shelves at one of the Exclusive Books Stores, and other book stores around Johannesburg. To be honest in business, the first years 5 to 10 years is the phase of great challenges. I will face challenges like getting the right equipment and material at right place at right cost price, getting contracts, and having reliable business partners and employers.

What is your plan to achieving your goals?

My first plan to achieve my goals is to have a business mentor. A mentor who has been in the business industry with more than 10 years of experience in the book binding industry itself. I also want to start with a table at one of the malls like Mall of Africa because that is where my target market is at. I would also need someone who will help me with buying equipment to continue my work. I also need to get assistance on how to market myself on social media.

What do you think is the role of a space like QWB+A in the acceleration and achievement of your vision or that of another entrepreneur?

QWB+A helps us to connect with people with business experience who teach us how to overcome challenges in many industries. QWB+A helps us with people who will mentor us in the right way to achieve our goals and in finding the right opportunities. QWB+A also shares Information on business conferences, talks or workshops which helps us.

Phumani Paper Designs

If you would like to support Phumzile's business, please contact:

Thank you for reading!

The QWB+A Team


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