Converse are celebrating the enduring appeal of their Chuck Taylor style – still going strong after 100 years. As part of their latest campaign ‘In My Chucks’ the footwear brand have partnered with a few of the most individual talents to give a glimpse of what they do in their iconic Chuck Taylor All Stars.
The young businessperson and philanthropist founded Soul Art Foundation, a skills share project for the youth by the youth. The social enterprise offers employment opportunity and mentorship to budding designers who make trendsetting contemporary art, textiles and fashion out of discarded materials.
We spoke to Brian about forging his own professional path, social innovation and why he loves his Chucks.
Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your background? What personal experiences shaped your career and inspired you to become involved with social innovation and entrepreneurship?
I’m Brian Sibusiso Mokhachane born and bred in Soweto. Growing up, art was my escape. I’m a passionate artist at heart. I love people and uniting and empowering my community through art and this has led me to social entrepreneurship. Over the past five years I’ve been working hard to merge art and social entrepreneurship. This gave birth to Soul Art Foundation.
Tell us the story of Soul Art foundation. How did the idea come about and what did it take to make it a reality?
The idea came in 2010 prior the Fifa World Cup. I wanted to create work around Soweto tourism but I had no money to support my plan. I mobilised a team and we collected used newspapers to create art on because we couldn’t afford to buy canvases. That’s when I organised the youth in my community who needed an alternative activity or employment, and realised the power of working as a collective and taking leadership. The organisation expanded into textile design, clothing, luggage design, furniture design, upcycling, recycling, stationery and the visual arts.
At Soul Art Foundation, you work with the youth to create multi-discipline art, furniture and accessories out of recycled materials. What prompted your sustainable approach?
When we started out it was an alternative and free way to see our ideas coming to life with no limits. Before, I wasn’t even conscious of its impact. I realised how powerful the medium was when tourists who were buying our work brought that point up. That is when I realised that I had found a powerful and affordable medium of expression and it’s been our unique selling point ever since.
Both your products and the Chuck Taylor All Stars are about driving the spirit of the youth. What are some of the brand values that you feel Soulart foundation and Converse have in common?
Authenticity, innovation, longevity, passion and integrity.
Converse recently partnered with you to get a glimpse of what you do in your Chuck Taylor All Stars. How do the sneakers fit into your lifestyle?
I grew up in Soweto and Chuck Taylor All Stars was the coolest thing ever. I’ve been a fan since day one, plus there is no other shoe that lets you to wear it with shorts, jeans, tracksuits, a suit; whatever you like. Whatever your style, converse will complement it. I rock it everywhere, be it sourcing materials, in production, on meetings, shooting or chilling. The coolest thing I’ve done wearing a pair is mack on a girl in Soweto. First she looked at my fit and then she asked me for the pair on my feet. I bought her a pair… well I bought my way to her heart and we still cool to this day.
What do you love about the Chuck Taylor All stars?
If I had to pick two things, they would be comfort and quality. They are running their own race at their own pace and have been consistent with that forever, Forever Chuck.