In the world of branding and design, standing out from the crowd is always a good thing, and Conté Creatives the Agency, the brainchild of South African entrepreneur Charmaine Ngobeni and her business partner Amanda Sibiya, is certainly doing that. Their unique differentiator in the marketplace is not only a great service offering, but also a wonderful creative portfolio magazine showcasing some great work by highly talented designers.
LoA chatted to Conté co-founder Charmaine Ngobeni this month to find out what lies in store for this highly creative enterprise.
What does your company do?
Our Agency is known for it’s Brand styling and Consulting. Think of fashion - we style ourselves accordingly to fit who we are - it’s a way of branding ourselves, so that when we associate ourselves with others we can be identified within the crowd. Branding is not just a logo or a letterhead, It’s a way of being, it’s a lifestyle. Branding is what consumers use to identify you from the next company/agency and our company aims to customise your identity to fit the core and essence of your company/agency. We are also well known for establishing and publishing, a creative portfolio magazine called Conté Magazine.
Out brand styling package includes:
• Logo design
• Business card
• Promotional Material
• Website design
• Email signature
• Social Media design (promotional banners, profile pictures, cover photos)
We design all of these options according to a style guide that we create for our clients, which would be consistent and cohesive.
Branding is not just a logo or a letterhead. It’s a way of being, it’s a lifestyle.
What inspired you to start your company?
I have always had a Passion for the Arts and all things Creative, but I don't think I ever could've imagined building my own company with the aim to solve some of the issues I've faced being a creative, especially in South Africa. I have always had a love for the Creatives but unfortunately I knew there wasn't much for us to dabble in, being a creative myself. So my business partner and I saw a gap and thought let us give back.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
We are not a typical branding/design agency. Working for two separate companies has showed us that both our companies work really well together. Conte Creatives is a branding Agency that does B2B AND B2C projects, and we do not limit ourselves, we work with both Corporate and SMME companies that all need our services. Because we work with such a wide range of companies, we at times need a helping hand. We then contact our database of artists (from graphic designers, animators, fashion designers, creative writers, interior designers etc) to come freelance with us, because there are some services we do not offer in-house. Having Conte Magazine is definitely an upper hand for us at the Agency.
Branding is what consumers use to identify you from the next company/agency and our company aims to customise your identity to fit the core and essence of your company/agency.
Tell us a little about your team
We currently have a small team.
Myself, Charmaine Ngobeni, Co-founder of Conte Creatives and Conte Magazine
My business Partner, Amanda Sibiya, Co-founder of Conte Creatives and Conte Magazine
SIfiso ‘Atomza’ Buthelezi, PR and Marketing (who also happens to be the Lead Vocalist in the popular South African group "The Muffinz")
Dylan Janse van Rensburg, Head Graphic Designer
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
My Dad, James Ngobeni, grew up in a time during Apartheid where not a lot of South African black men could have opportunities like most of us do now. He was a young bread winner of a family of 8 kids (him being a middle child) and took himself to school. He was awarded a lot of bursaries at school because of the hard worker he is. One of those bursaries gave him the opportunity to study abroad at Harvard University in Massachusetts. There he studied and did a part time job and earned a few dollars, which he saved up to start his own projects when he got back to South Africa. He has been an entrepreneur most of his life and I did not realise then what a massive influence he would later be to me.
I first started my entrepreneurial journey in 2008, my first year at the University of Johannesburg where I was studying Fine Arts. That business did not take off because I couldn't produce a team that was as inspired as I was with the concept. So I decided to put the project on hold. I focused on my studies and did some part time work. I later transferred to study abroad in New York at Parsons the New School for Design, where I was awarded an academic scholarship and a international student scholarship. I had a lot of spare time while I was studying there, so I took on a few internships with Viacom, Nickelodeon, NYAFF (New York African Film Festival) and a few freelance projects through Comic Con. I was always driven to do a lot and gain a lot of experience. One of my school projects was to create my own publication, and I was blessed enough to be taught by one of the art directors of TIME Magazine, who encouraged me to pursue this project a little further. I then started distributing my magazine that I started, called The South African Lifestyle and did not look back.
I moved back to South Africa 4 years later and I couldn't find a job in my field, but I kept looking while working jobs that my dad pulled in favours for. Finally I came across the job where I met my current business partner and when she and I realised we shared the same ambitions and passion - we decided to venture on our own, and that's how Conté came about.
We are also well known for establishing and publishing, a creative portfolio magazine called Conté Magazine.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
I look forward to seeing Conté become a household name for all Creatives alike. We are currently building up a database of African Creatives in Africa and abroad. This will always give our Magazine amazing Content and our Agency the upper hand against other well known agencies. This is because we will be able to offer any skill of work that a company may be looking for because we have access to amazing African creative talent across the board.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
I absolutely love waking up everyday to go to the office, meet up with my team and find more solutions to the problems we all currently face on a daily basis as Creatives in Africa. I also enjoy watching my and my business partners ideas come to life, and better yet flourish.
"I believe that all ideas are great ideas as long as you start."
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
My biggest advice for all female entrepreneurs - there is no such thing as a man's world. Do not allow that "term" make you feel insecure and less confident, or give you the idea that you are not in charge or enough of a leader. I advise you to take that idea you have stored up in the back of your mind and apply yourself. I believe that all ideas are great ideas as long as you start. Even if you fail, you've already succeeded because you actually "started" something. The only way you can truly fail, is to fail yourself by not believing that you can start something of your own and reap the rewards of that passion-filled project.
Ultimately, always BELIEVE IN YOU!!!
Contact or follow Conté Creatives
Why LoA loves it….
Finding a niche in any business sector is always essential, and particularly in the highly competitive creative world. But for co-founder Charmaine Ngobeni and her business partner Amanda Sibiya, they have certainly started to create an interesting niche for themselves. Not only have they built a successful and unique brand and design agency capable of standing out in the crowd, but also a great magazine celebrating the best of creative design work and local talent. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa