Birthed from a response to our country’s growing need for cultural awareness, Khoi Kulcha has become more than just a clothing label. Owner and visionary, Rochey Walters, believes that the vision God has birthed in his heart for the brand has the power to unite, restore and help us to celebrate each other and who we are, as South Africans.
Walters dreamt up the concept early in 2013 after talking to one of the neighborhood children in his hometown, Humansdorp. “I realised that they do not know about our culture as ‘Coloured’ people of South Africa.” The passionate 27-year-old shared, explaining how he was amazed that the youngsters did not know the history of the Khoisan or the heritage of ‘coloured’ people.
“According to my knowledge the Khoisan were the first here. Which means that we are indigenous and of this land and yet we do not recognise it.” This encounter stirred up a passion in him to start creating an awareness of the rich culture South Africans have inherited from the Khoisan people. “I’ve been in the industry and I know a bit of everything and wondered how I could contribute towards keeping this heritage alive,” He shared. Even though he loves politics and is a professional musician with a heart for worship, he felt guided to choose his love for fashion as the medium of choice. “I then asked myself: ‘What can I design that everyone would like without offending any other culture or religion?’ And that is how Khoi Kulcha was born.” Spurred on by then business partner, Richard Burns, and with the assistance of designer, Wesley Thomas, he conceptualised a trademark that was fresh, proudly South African and true to what had been on his heart from the beginning.
“Our slogan is ‘Live Original’. The main focus is to celebrate each other.” He explained. “I celebrate who I am and I celebrate where I come from.” Walters believes that even though the brand honors the heritage of the so called ‘Coloured’ people it also serves as a way to celebrate every individual that wears it. “We are all equal and we are all unique. This brand says ‘I accept you as you are and I celebrate where you come from.’”
The concept was introduced to social media and it quickly caught on, with many waiting in anticipation for the initial garments to hit distribution. “I only printed my first tshirt in 2015 but by that time there was already a following!” He shared, describing the overwhelming response he has received in sales made from the online store as well as the Khoi Kulcha stalls he sets up at various events.
Foundation in Christ
Walters recognises the hand of God on his life and has shared how the Holy Spirit guides him through every decision. “The Bible says that whatever man plans in his heart, God commands his footsteps. I believe that and I know that when I started planning it in my heart, God already worked the road for me.” He considers his relationship with God to be the most important thing in his life and attributes his success to it. “Growing up in a pastor’s house I was taught about faith from a young age; knowing that I can do all things through Christ. Those Christian principles really stuck with me.” Standing firm when things were not looking up for the brand really helped to shape the young entrepreneur, who claims that his foundation in Christ kept him grounded. “The height of a building is determined by the foundation,” He explained. “As I kept my faith, God opened doors that had been shut by people of influence who said no when I first approached them about my idea.”
Walters describes himself as a ‘go getter’ who has the confidence to take charge and make things happen even the odds are against him. As a sower he believes that giving is better than receiving and that his breakthroughs are all due to this Biblical principle. “I believe in sowing. If I want my business to grow I need to sow into others.”
“I have made a lot of sacrifices to help fund this project. Things, like getting a patent and paying for designs, cost a lot of money,” He shared. “I’ve worked very hard and I have a lot of people to thank for it.”
Walters fondly recalls how the support of his father, Ps Clive Walters, the prayers of his family and the encouragement given by businessman and musician, Euclid Jacobs, have championed him towards his dream. “Euclid is a good friend of mine and one day while having a chat I mentioned my vision to him. I told him I needed to get this brand running.” He shared, explaining how Jacobs quickly sowed into the brand. “He told me ‘I believe in you. I see your heart’. He was the only person who believed in my vision, without even asking questions!”
It has been an investment well spent as the pair bear witness to the label growing immensely in a mere 5 months, with overwhelming response from countries such as Namibia and Switzerland. With South African celebrities, like actors Ingrid Paulus and Denver Vraagom and singer Johnathan Butler, wearing his brand and the #KhoiKulcha and #LiveOriginal hashtags making their rounds on social media, it is clear that the Khoi Kulcha vision is taking root in the hearts of young South Africans and people of influence.
“We need to get our culture trending. Our kids must be educated on heritage and how to keep it alive.” He believes that more funding should go towards celebrating the Khoi culture, which would help to promote a much needed sense of pride and belonging amongst SA youth.