Young and Driven, an Interview with Joshua E Sousa
Sousa is an entrepreneur, model, and creator who boasts over 10k followers on Instagram (iamjoshdylan). He has quickly become a South African social media influencer and inspires people through his creativity and tenacity that he has shown through his accomplishments. PDBY got the opportunity to talk to him and pick his brain about social media, art, and entrepreneurship.
Your Instagram has grown exponentially in the past year and you have quickly become a social media influencer. What inspired you to start this journey and where do you hope it will lead you?
This may seem slightly odd but music, definitely music. Something many people do not know about me is that I actually used to be a DJ throughout high school. I feel as though this is where my creative journey began. This was the point where I started to realise that I had a creative mind and being able to experience what it felt like to share what went on in my head with people, and seeing the positivity that I could spread by sharing it, is what drives me to carry on creating to this day.
With regards to social media, we’ve seen you do it all, from YouTube to Instagram. Which platform is your favourite and why?
Oh no, we shall never speak of the YouTube days again from this day forward! I was actually watching some of the content that I created in high school and I was cringing so hard! Despite the cringe, going back to things you’ve created in the past and realising how much you’ve grown since then is always a great feeling. If anyone would like to watch prepubescent Josh ruining his current day persona, feel free to go check out my channel ‘IamJoshalosh’[…] I don’t really do much YouTube content at the moment as it is super time consuming. Nowadays I prefer Instagram as a platform. I feel as though it makes the process of building relationships with everyone who follows me a lot easier and it allows a much more intimate experience as I can share more of my life through Instagram stories.
“…realising how much you’ve grown since then is always a great feeling.”
Social media is something that we all use on a daily basis and it gets toxic for everyone. How do you deal with social media’s pressure and keep up your mental health?
There is a certain irony about social media. It is a place where people share so many positive aspects of their lives and seem to neglect the negative ones. Yet in reality, there cannot be good without bad. When it comes to coping with the pressures of social media, I think that it is important to separate social media from reality. If there is no such thing as bad then what exactly is good? This exclusion of the negative aspects of life on social media has led to us warping our ideas of what reality is. This results in us placing such high pressures on ourselves to live the “ideal life” – a picture painted by many influencers on social media.
It is important for us to realise that we decide what our reality is. If we base our reality solely on what we see on social media, we will be chasing a lifestyle that only acknowledges the good/happy/ positive and ignores the bad/sad/negative. […] We decide the frame of mind with which we approach social media. If you would like to use social media to thrive in your life, do not use social media to compare, use it to inspire. Seeing what others have makes it very easy for us to notice what we don’t have. This often leads us down a rabbit hole of negative thinking and depression. Make it a habit to, instead of seeing what others have, see the possibility of what you could have yourself. Instead of wasting time and energy hating those who are successful, invest that same time and energy into learning how they made it to where they are.
What advice would you give someone who wants to enter the fashion industry and how would you describe your personal style?
If I could give only one piece of advice, I would tell you to focus on building relationships and being impressionable. When you focus on doing this, more and more opportunities will start coming your way. The next step is to take every opportunity and run with it, as this will lead to you building even more relationships and becoming even more impressionable.
I’d describe my style as offbeat suave – an idea inspired by ThrowAwayTwenty which is a fashion brand started by two of my friends. I strive to always dress charming and confident in a way that stands out from the conventional. It is important to me to always have a classic yet unique look as I find this contrast appealing.
“Instead of wasting time and energy hating those who are successful, invest that same time and energy into learning how they made it to where they are.”
How did you become an entrepreneur at your age and how would you suggest a young graduate to also follow their dreams of entrepreneurship?
An essential part of being an entrepreneur is having some sort of drive within you. I have always been entrepreneurial by nature – most likely due to the things I have experienced in life. When I was 12, my father passed away which left my mother and I to fend for ourselves. Times were tough as all of our financial burdens were laid on her as a single parent with a lower-middle class job. Seeing my mother put up with this challenge and struggling to put food on the table is what lead to me making a life changing decision. I decided that financial worries would not be something I would encounter when I grew up. After making this decision, I used the money that my father left me to buy DJ equipment and to send myself on a DJ101 course offered at SoulCandi. From there on, I practiced this skill daily until I was confident enough to perform live in front of people. I made all the money I spent on the course and equipment back within a year by being the go-to DJ for all the parties happening at my school. I would say that this was the beginning of my journey to becoming an entrepreneur.
Something that I have benefitted a lot from on this journey is understanding the concept of investment. An investment doesn’t have to be monetary or tangible. There are plenty intangible investments that you can make and the most important one is time. How are you investing your time and what is the return on this investment? It is so important to be investing in things that yield the highest possible return whether that return be monetary, happiness or learning a skill. In my case, at the time, it was DJing which yielded not only a monetary return but also taught me many things about how to handle clients. Not only that, it also yielded a return in happiness as music is one of my passions. If you consistently invest in things that yield the highest possible return, you will achieve success in whatever you are striving towards.
After graduating with your BCom degree from Wits, how did you know where to go from there and has your degree assisted you in being where you are today?
Surprisingly, transitioning from varsity to my current career has been such a pleasure for me. The reason for this is because throughout varsity, I was working on my career whilst juggling course work and that was the real challenge. My marks at the time did take a little bit of a dip but in hindsight, it was all worth it. This is because throughout varsity I was able to establish a client base from which I am working on today which means I have been able to sustain myself since leaving without having to take up a job in corporate.
You have just launched a brand called JD Creations. Tell us more about the brand and how it came about.
JD Creations is social media content creation company that I have just started with my business partner Dumisa Rankin. We have identified an emerging market when it comes to social media and influencer marketing and this is the gap that we aim to fill by creating engaging content that enables brands to communicate and build relationships with their consumers. We have only just launched and have already had the privilege of working with a few big name brands including Mini Cooper South Africa as well as Mugg & Bean.
You seem to have so many plans for the future. What is your 10-year plan?
I am so excited for the future that I often wish I could skip to the future just to see where I am 10 years from now. My ideal future 10 years from now would include JD Creations being a corporate giant in South Africa when it come[s] to digital marketing. I also want to see myself being more involved in the South African music industry in the future. I see myself being a game changer when it comes to getting South African talent into the international entertainment market. In 10 years from now I want to be able to make investments in various aspects of South Africa in order to see our country further develop. One of these investments includes a youth development program aimed at empowering youth to develop their creative and entrepreneurial talents in order to grow our economy and achieve our goal of getting South Africa internationally recognised. There are so many things that I am working towards and the future is definitely looking bright.