Art & Design14 August

Creative Innovator, Dillion Phiri goes Next Level with Russian Bear!

Creative visionary Dillion Phiri tells us his story, his ambitions and aspirations for the SA creative industry.

RB: Tell us more about yourself and ‘Creative Nestlings’?

DP: Well I am a 25 year old father to an almost 2 year old Wandile Kazuo & married to Nokulunga who is also my business partner in Creative Nestlings. I am also working (painstakingly) on being a fashion designer with my brand The Brothers Slimm (

Creative Nestlings is a company or network which works with young people (Youth/Ulutsha) to firstly build their creative confidence and help them in figuring out that next step in their ideas, businesses, careers, lives , and how they can use their skills to effect change in their society.

RB: What inspired you to start ‘Creative Nestlings’?

DP: Curiosity & boredom of a normal job. Also the people around me were young creatives full of questions but no one was answering them.

RB: Over the past years, we have seen a significant growth in the creative industry in South Africa. We have seen a number of projects, companies, artists and creative, who get recognition worldwide. What inspires you about the local creative industry and the creative industry in Africa in general? 

DP: The Local creative industry is interesting to me because people are starting to realize the power of creativity, that it’s beyond arts & crafts, but that creativity can be a tool for solving societal problems. Also the creative industry used to be very elitist, only a few could enter & play, but now we are seeing more people exploring & creating and finally seeing themselves as creatives. We are starting to see more people becoming curious and appreciative of the creative industry, it’s not enough but it’s a start. More creatives in the African continent are using creativity to tell and share their stories and reshaping the typical “African” story. Which is interesting for me personally, as my favourite African proverb is “Until the lion learns to speak, the tales of hunting will be weak.” My only issue with creatives in Africa is that we are still allowing our creativity to be bound in the English narrative. We are not creating enough tools to save our beautiful traditions & languages. I feel we need make our languages a priority in the Africa continent, everyone else has to learn our languages when they are in the continent.

RB: Where do you see yourself and your career in the next five years?

DP: In 5 years, my menswear brand would have done a couple of very strong collections and some feature films. I would have also written a book. For Creative Nestlings, the plan is to by then have created the largest network of young people in Africa who are using creativity to transform their societies.


RB: In a country like South Africa, we have huge talent in various industries.  What do you feel are the main challenges in exposing and growing talent for local creatives?

DP: Well recently in our work as Creative Nestlings we have discovered that young people mainly lack “creative confidence”, the confidence to believe they can do absolutely anything. Having the freedom and courage to fail/take creative risks and the knowledge that all of the ideas you create have value. So young people need safe spaces to fail, experiment & create.


RB: What happens at the ‘conversations on creativity’ sessions and what can one learn from the round table events?

DP: #ConversationsOnCreativity is an event series where  we invite 4 young creatives to share their journeys with a crowd of 80-100 creatives & the general public. To ensure it’s not a one way dialogue we have a guest host to encourage the audience to be part of the conversations. It’s our way of bringing together young people from all walks of life, in a space where they can all be equal and sharing their journeys in hope of future collaborations.

The Roundtable Series are small intimate events where we bring together young people from all walks of life to discuss a topic or a burning issue that’s affecting them in the creative industry, and the main aim is to end the session having come up with steps towards solving these issues. For example, our last two roundtables dealt with youth unemployment and how the creative industries can absorb all these young people. So if you attend a Roundtable, you will learn about how other young people think about issues, and ideas on how to address those challenges.


RB: Russian Bear believes in taking it to the ‘next level’ in all we do, how do you take it to the next level? 

DP: I take it to the next level by challenging myself every day and allowing people to challenge me.

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