Steve Madden x Karabo Poppy Moletsane

Illustrator, designer and street artist Karabo Poppy Moletsane shares her Self Made story

Self-made businessman Steve Madden started his business in 1990 with an idea and a thousand bucks, developing his footwear brand into the iconic billion-dollar business it is today. 

Inspired by Steve Madden's entrepreneurial story of success, the Self Made program has identified five South Africans who have made an impact in their respective industries, who join a network of entrepreneurs overseas. 

Karabo Poppy Moletsane's hard work, perseverance and courage serves as an inspiration to the self-made community and you can scroll down to read her entrepreneurial story of success. 

Steve Madden x Karabo Poppy Moletsane

How do you define Self Made?

Being a successful pioneer in a specific field despite the odds being stacked up against you.

Where do you feel most inspired?

When I am roaming the streets of different South African CBD's. The uniquely South African people, the fashion, the energy and the sounds of the city are incredibly inspirational.

What has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial career?

This has to be a tie between being invited by Google to create a Google Doodle for International Women's Day 2018, and being invited by the University of California to paint a 12mX40m mural in the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in 2017.

Steve Madden x Karabo Poppy Moletsane

What has been your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge I found being a woman in art – specifically being a black female freelance illustrator, street artist and graphic designer – was that for a very long time I couldn't find anyone who shared my narrative within the industry. When I was studying there weren't many people fitting the description (black female illustrator/street artist and graphic designer) that I could look up to and hopefully learn from, so I aimed to be that for the next generation of young woman in this industry. This meant that a lot of the necessary skills needed in navigating this unique profession in a male dominated industry were learnt through tons of trial and error.

Mantra to live by?

I aim to use my creativity to preserve the African aesthetic.

Any inspiring routines we should know about?

I believe that staying healthy is incredibly important in nurturing creativity so I exercise about six times a week. I also believe that practicing a variety of arts keeps your mind sharp and amplifies creativity, so I play the guitar, drums, sing, write music and dabble in photography and fashion design.

Steve Madden x Karabo Poppy Moletsane

What's your typical day like?

A normal day for me would be going to the gym in the morning, head over to the studio to work throughout the day and practice some of my hobbies in the evenings when I get home. Pretty uneventful.

What's next for you?

A number of international collaborations and trips (USA, Canada, India and the UK so far) as well as an upcoming solo exhibition.

What does your city mean to you?

My city is my main source of inspiration. It's where I get to authentically interact and document some of Africa's most exquisite examples of aesthetics, innovation and culture.

Steve Madden x Karabo Poppy Moletsane

To what do you attribute your success?

It's very difficult to pin point the reason for my success but my dad always says that he attributes my success to four things: doing the unconventional, persevering in that, original unique style and my mom teaching me how to draw from a young age.

What tips would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs and/or artists?

Don't be intimidated by the amount of time it could take to be successful in your field. We live in a culture of instant gratification (instant coffee, instant messenger) but there is no such thing as instant success. Success requires a myriad considerations; consistency, excellence, originality, innovation, perseverance and sometimes a little bit of luck.

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