Several years ago, the gatekeepers wouldn’t allow MR TEBELLO ‘TIBZ’ MOTSOANE through the door, but in no time he had muscled his way into Jo’burg nightlife’s premier league, promoting parties, and making marginal brands cool. He went on to open his own nightclub, secured a stake in a street wear brand and turned a little known rapper called AKA into the Supa Mega star he is today. In recent times, he has pivoted into food and drink, foregoing en vogue ambassador deals in favour of equity and a seat at the table. This is how he did it, in his own words.
I have always loved what happens behind the scenes, intrigued by the deals and ownership. Having been in the party and music space for so long, the obvious case studies were always Mr Russell Simmons, Diddy and Jay Z. Through the years, I have seen many (artists and ‘influencers’) get endorsements, but very little ownership, and having worked with so many brands, I know that things usually change with each new fiscal, no matter how good a job you did.
The move to having my own product and creating CafeTibz (a pop-up food platform that has turned a cooking hobby into a bona fide business) came from the same necessity that I had when I first created Showlove (a music and concepts company). What I liked wasn’t out there and I stopped complaining. I wanted to go out, look good, chat to cool people, hear some dope beats and eat amazing food. I don’t want to be rushed either. CafeTibz fills that void and I’ve shared it with a few people. In the beginning there was no strategy at all (behind instagramming the meals he had cooked), I was merely proud of what I’d created and the feedback was cool. The constant requests for me to open a restaurant or host cooking lessons showed me there was space there. I had to figure out how to add my flair and ensure I’m different from other cooks/chefs/foodies.
“What I liked wasn’t out there and I stopped complaining. I wanted to go out, look good, chat to cool people, hear some dope beats and eat amazing food. I don’t want to be rushed either. CafeTibz fills that void.”
The creation of Atelier MCC (the newest drink brand) began when the Wildekrans Wine Estate invited me to the farm in the Botriver Valley. The initial discussions were about being an ambassador for the farm but that didn’t make sense to me. I spent a few days there with my now partner, Mr Kamogelo Kgadima, our wine-maker and the owner of the farm, Mr Gary Harlow and sampled copious amounts of everything. I asked a lot of questions about grapes, the region, process, barrels, etc. When Kamo pitched the concept of an MCC to me, we went into partnership. No endorsement and no ambassadorship. I was excited because I believe we’re slowly grasping that as great as champagne is, we have world class bubbly to match. I don’t think champagne is overrated, I’d say it has an advantage, and MCC is highly underrated. Many aren’t aware that it’s made through the same process as champagne. Let’s enjoy both.
I came up with the name after watching a Raf Simmons documentary about his first show for Dior. His Atelier (an artist’s studio/workshop) is something to marvel at. To me, an Atelier is any creative environment and I’m in constant search of that. AuGold Vodka, Lavo Wine and Atelier MCC stem from networking and timing. I don’t think they would have worked out if I were still “Mr Party”. The work now is to get the world’s buy in. I am building my own Pernod Ricard and Tiger Brands. I’m also building my own Ogilvy. Through Showlove, concepts and campaigns such as CafeTibz where Tibz is the influencer, Tibz introduces the public to his products and that hopefully resonates and translates to consistent sales for The Motsoane Group. I’m aware that this is the stage of my process where I have to be the headliner, when the time comes for me to step back again and let others be the face and for the brands to sell themselves, I will. We have gin, tonic water, olive oil and spices next on the agenda.
“AuGold Vodka, Lavo Wine and Atelier MCC stem from networking and timing. I don’t think they would have worked out if I were still “Mr Party”. I’m building my own Pernod Ricard and Tiger Brands. I’m also building my own Ogilvy.”
My liver got used to severe punishment when I was running Sunday nights (at various clubs) in Jo’burg. Fortunately, I take much better care of myself now: plenty of water and boxing, but a glass or two with most meals means I’ve definitely lost count of the volume of wine I have drunk. For me, wine is passion and execution. It’s like planning a campaign from scratch and then killing it. It’s a sport for me, I’m aggressive about it, I want to win wine awards like I won music awards. The beverage industry is by no means a cheap industry, but I’m fortunate enough to have struck deals that essentially make me a farmer. Killing the middleman, having skilled labour and having the best people at every level have made all the difference.