Mr Hussain Van Roos is the Co-Founder of Fixin’ Diaries – a movement and business that has brought fixed gear cycling into the daily lives of darker hued Jozi cool kids from Soweto to the suburbs. He is also a brand consultant and the thoughtful marketer’s dream: he cares about the story and never delivers a hard sell. Everything he puts his name to – from a sporty hatchback to hip British threads – is well considered and ticks that mostly elusive ‘authenticity’ box. We quizzed him about what it means to be a gentleman, his beard, his love for the township and the ubiquitousness of the term ‘style icon’.
noted.man: Please introduce yourself in the most flattering manner possible
Hussain Van Roos: A passion driven social entrepreneur who is on a determined path to revolutionise how the bicycle is viewed in South Africa and Africa at large.
NM: Being an entrepreneur/freelancer is a tough life. What lessons have you learned about sustainability?
HVR: Patience, resilience and more patience. Always remember that you cannot and will not become a millionaire in one night. And that money you keep see lining your pockets? It isn’t yours, it’s the business’s money.
NM: How did you get into cycling?
HVR: I’ve always been an admirer of all things two wheels and mechanical, grew up cycling all over my neighbourhood, However the passion and love of cycling was rekindled by a very esteemed friend.
NM: What is the allure of the craft of building bicycles?
HVR: The ability to create a product that will most definitely make the end user ecstatic and improve their quality of life, the ability in being able to play with colour pairing, leather selection, the entire process is one to revel in. I believe that in any craft, what catches engagement are the initial eye catching details – the bright blue colour of a steel frame resting on snow white tyres, topped with white leather saddle.
NM: You remain very close to the township, in fact, much of your work revolves around it. What is your perspective on the idea of being proud of where you come from, in the face of the township having been an invention meant to isolate and subjugate?
HVR: In my view, if you are not proud of where you come from, how will you shape and structure where you’re going? The township is part of my DNA, it’s my blueprint that helps me innovate because I know the quality of life within.
NM: Do you think the term ‘Style Icon’ is over/misused and why?
HVR: Firstly, James Dean is a Style Icon. Michael Jackson is a style icon. I mean, it’s true definition should be understood and this will guide its use. Yet again, to whom is this person a style icon? Who has been following his/her way of dressing? In a nutshell, I definitely think it’s being misused.
NM: What life or social lessons have you learned from growing your beard?
Haha, patience and definitely time management.
NM: What is your grooming routine?
HVR: Every week (Saturday mornings), when time permits, I visit my local barber for a haircut and trim. Once in a while, the lady will insist on pedicures.
“if you are not proud of where you come from, how will you shape and structure where you’re going? The township is part of my DNA, it’s my blueprint that helps me innovate because I know the quality of life within.”
NM: Do clothes maketh the man or vice versa and why?
HVR: The latter. You could have all the clothes in the world and still have no sense of dress. Timeless style cannot be bought.
NM: What do many men misunderstand about the idea of being a gentleman?
HVR: That wearing a suit, dress shirt and tie is what makes you a gentleman. There’s a code to live by, values to uphold and traits to exude.
NM: Tell us about the Gentle Brothers series: what is it, what inspired it and where is it going?
I grew up watching a lot of mafia films with my grandfather and I’ve always admired the mutual respect and loyalty these well-dressed men lived by. Being the first brainchild of IAMHussain (Brand Consulting Firm), Gentlebrothers is a platform where like-minded gentlemen come together and bask in varying conversations. I wanted to host meet ups to create a social networking hub for like-minded gentlemen where the ‘I AM HUSSAIN’ concept which introduces the pillars that have defined who I became in my journey as a gentleman. The meet up is a space where I get to showcase my lifestyle choices in an authentic manner within my community. It has however started taking its own shape, and I am letting it, as it continues to grow, it’s allowing for more creativity to embody and define its growth pattern.
NM: What is the greatest lesson your grandfather has taught you?
HVR: Always adopt nature’s secret. Patience.