Millennial, designer, hairstylist, and model, Yaaseen Cader (30), establishes his creative logic on sustainability, liveability and authenticity. Here is an entrepreneur whose formal education consists of a Grade 10 certificate and a diploma from a hairstyling college but who can school us in what it means to be a self-actualised man.
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, who wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865, tells the story of a girl falling into a fantasy world populated by peculiar creatures, curious twists and amazing adventures. That was indeed my experience of the launch of Yaaseen’s clothing range. I had to make sure that I caught up with him to journey down the rabbit hole.
1985: Born in Cape Town
2000: While in high school started hairdressing out of home in Crawford
2002: Worked at Yazo4Hair and Hair HQ at the Mount Nelson Hotel
2005: Hairdressing business goes mobile
2011: Nominated for GQ Best Dressed Men
2014: Founded Kader Hair Salon
2015: Launched fashion brand Kader #NoLabel
As a hairstylist you’ve focused on “elegance”, “effortlessness” and “bespoke attentiveness”. How have these values reflected in your approach to good business?
By striving to conduct myself as a gentleman in everything I say and do.
You were scouted by 20 Model Management and landed spots in several campaigns, not to mention being nominated for the GQ Best Dressed Men in 2011. How did it all start?
I always wanted to do modelling. I was scouted in 2006 by Robin Fryer, international model, entrepreneur and founder of 20 Model Management, who I met a few years prior. I wanted a modelling agency that felt like family. Everything I do needs to be based on energy – I wanted to belong to a place that had good people. That follows through to my clothing as well – good people will portray my garment in the way I want it to be showcased.
What are the biggest pitfalls in the modelling industry that novices should look out for to futureproof success?
The market is capricious, saturated and too many models try too hard to be a model instead of being themselves. Success will come without the pretentious attitude.
In an interview for Hashtag Radio following on the launch of #NoLabel you stated that you “love theatre” and “Alice in Wonderland”. How do the drama, wonder and surprise play out in your design?
By using classic fabrics, abstract prints and adding some of my quirky personality.
Artist or businessman?
I am definitely more of an artist and working very hard on the business side of it. The creative side definitely comes a lot easier.
FORTUNE says that given the right environment, support and autonomy, millennials will unleash innovation. How does this play out in starting your own enterprise?
For one, I woke up one morning and from conception to #NoLabel launch date it took only 6 weeks. I’m a very spontaneous person and although I don’t think it is very good when making big decisions – it certainly doesn’t always work in business. But I followed through because you never know what can come from it. Sometimes you have to take the risk – calculated not reckless risk.
What conditions are necessary to start a business?
I definitely had support from significant people in my life and I felt there was a gap in the market. Besides I was definitely doing what I felt I wanted to do. You don’t necessarily have to leave your day job, test the waters and do branching ventures before deciding to break with the secure if that will give you confidence. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, sometimes innovation comes from adapting, perfecting or scaling things that already exist.
What are you top 5 tips that make for a good and prosperous entrepreneur?
- Take calculated risks
- Never accept NO for an answer
- Be goal-driven.
You can get hold of #NoLabel’s exclusive range from Yaaseen’s studio Kader in The Palms Centre, 145 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock, 8001, Cape Town. You can also connect with Yaaseen on Instagram @YaaseenCader and @KaderNoLabel and follow him on Facebook.
“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality” – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland