Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is sculptor Sidney Molepo, who has some very wise words to share with other young professionals: “Success is not accidental, and it is certainly not a number on a balance sheet.” Find out more about his work in today’s profile…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
I design and fabricate one-of-a kind and limited edition pieces of functional sculpture for people to use.
Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
I started my business in order to fulfill my purpose in life. I have an insatiable need to make things. I’m fascinated by our ability as a species to manipulate materials in order to produce our built environment. I’ve always enjoyed learning about factories. As a child I would often make objects from a variety of found materials. I honed my fabrication skills by working for various furniture makers. In 2003 I started making functional objects, namely furniture. I started making pieces of furniture for sale by 2006. Three years ago I saw a correlation between chair making and footwear, and for the last year I’ve been making shoes.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
I love the process of cutting and shaping materials like wood, cork, and leather into objects that a person can wear and enrich their lives. Since I don’t do this in a vacuum, the most challenging part is to create these objects to meet a price point.
Where do you see your business going in five years?
I plan to continue making sculpture by hand. However, since I can only produce so much on my own, I plan to get into product licensing within the next five years in order to reach more people with my perspective on design. Licensing would also allow me to create additional revenue streams.
What does success look like to you?
I believe success is the result of a person’s lifelong commitment to fulfilling their purpose. The teacher who has committed their life to opening the minds of their students is successful. A member of Médecins Sans Frontières working in a developing country to bring medical services to underserved communities is successful. Success is not accidental, and it is certainly not a number on a balance sheet.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
In August 2003, I was sanding a support for a table that I was making, in my parents’ garage, and suddenly, with great clarity, I got an overwhelming realisation that this is what I should dedicate my life’s efforts too. I’ve never since had such a powerful feeling of certainty.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Follow your convictions, and have confidence in yourself and your abilities. Don’t let other people’s fears prevent you from pursuing what you want in life.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I don’t support any charities with financial donations at the moment. Although, I often give people something far more important: unabashed encouragement. I think too many people fail to live up to their potential in life because they lack the courage and conviction needed to take the road less travelled. And often, self-doubt is a person’s greatest obstacle. Like Henry Ford said: “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” I plan to eventually set up a charity that would provide the capital and support required to help purpose-driven individuals reach their potential and entrepreneurial goals.
What is Notable to you?
I think Notable is an important platform because it allows those sitting on the fence to see that there are many Canadians out there who strive do to more with their lives than just find a ‘cushy job in the public sector’ and plan for retirement.
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How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
I wake up every morning grateful that I have the opportunity to work towards fulfilling my purpose. I also walk every morning with my wife along the Lachine canal.