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XAPO BANK brings you stories of The Few: Part 3 of 4

XAPO BANK brings you stories of The Few: Part 3 of 4

Introducing Vato Kayde, streetwear impresario, DJ and mover of cultural boundaries

In this four-part series, Xapo Bank brings you the extraordinary journeys of The Few. Four South African changemakers share their stories of quiet revolution, purpose and impact beyond their own realms and limitations. For The Few, vision is the key to new possibility.  

Vato Kayde shares his love for the rare, luxe and culturally iconic – and his inspiring life story of struggle, faith and family.  

The motivation of a tough start  

Covered in face and neck tattoos and clothed in high art streetwear, Vato immediately signals a fierce intention to beat his own drum and challenge conventional tastes and wisdoms. Beneath the exterior, however, is an introverted man deeply motivated by faith, family, community and a childhood that made him a streetwise and motivated businessman.   

Vato – a nickname originating from the cult 1990s gangster film Blood In Blood Out – grew up in southern Johannesburg with his mother and step-father. From early on he was motivated by them to work hard on your own terms for a better life. 

He is also deeply influenced by the tragedy of losing his father at a young age – a man who had a tough life and wasted his immense potential by falling in with the wrong crowd. “I just always knew I didn’t want to go down that same road and I didn’t want to let my family down.” 

It shaped his ambitions. “When I was growing up, in my neighbourhood, I was always known as the kid with the crazy dreams, the crazy ambitions. I always liked working. It was never a chore to me. I wanted to help my family.”  

Like many others, Vato’s mom lost her business in 2008. He wanted nice things, but he never wanted to burden or drain his mother or anyone at home, who had their own challenges to deal with. “I liked working for the things I wanted, myself.”  

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He was in Grade 10 and his mom was pregnant with his little sister when he came up with the idea to sell clothing at school. He managed to source Ed Hardy shirts and sold them in small batches as his cash flow allowed. This sparked the idea of becoming a retailer.  

Another of his earliest motivators was his love of fine cars. When he was eight years old he promised himself he would drive a sports car one day – unaware at the time of how soon he could make it happen. Vato was barely out of high school when he bought his first car cash.  

“I’ve always been motivated to do things in a non-traditional way… and have been inspired by underdogs and antiheroes like rappers and artists,” he says. “Some of these people who have done significant things in industries, who did things that others thought impossible, even if they were negative figures in history, were extremely motivating to me. They made me feel like, if they could go far, I could go far.” 

The birth of a connector 

This inspiration spilled over into his music, events and high end streetwear businesses. “Our strong point has always been wanting to be exclusive, to be different and having what no-one else has. It made us stand out.” While catering for the few to create a club of insiders was always a product focus, it was also part of a much larger vision to create a likeminded community that could come together to connect over shared interests – and in essence become a sort of family.  

“When you’re from the real bottom and you have no support system, creating that becomes very important. If you have people around you, supporting you, you become untouchable.” 

Vato’s motivation initially manifested itself in his first business, an events brand called We Are One that he had started fresh out of school, while teaching himself to DJ. Using video and influencer marketing tactics – years before it became popular – and getting clubs to take a chance on his 18-year-old self, his sold-out events caused lines around the block and created a cult following of fans who wanted in on the community.  

The name of his current luxury streetwear business in Sandton, Lafamilia, comes as much from his passion for rare sneakers and ultra-luxe brands to his love of community and family. “Loyalty over royalty, is what I say. Family is more important than anything – you’re always stronger as a unit than you are on your own.” 

Lessons learnt in life and business 

Reflecting on his life lessons, Vato admits that he can be too trusting and this got him “burnt” in the past. He learnt to watch, listen and accept that not everyone around him might have the same good intentions or values.  

Despite these disillusionments, Vato still believes that the collective is stronger than the individual. “When you start collaborating, you get ideas from others who might think differently and more creatively than you.” 

Another hard lesson was that his coveted merchandise was popular with criminals. His store – stocking Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Yeezy, Bottega Veneta, Givenchy and other luxury brands – has been struck by criminals. Other challenges included the Covid pandemic and untrustworthy landlords and business connections. “It can be dangerous out there for young entrepreneurs who don’t know their way around. You bump your head, pay your school fees and learn your lessons the hard way.” 

For Vato, it’s important to evolve his businesses and brands and continually strive to bring his customers things they can’t get elsewhere. This has led him to personally source stock from exclusive boutiques in New York City, buying small batches from small exclusive international brands that did not distribute to SA yet, and “getting creative” to get his hands on specific items that were coveted not only in SA but also internationally. “We position our store as a modern art museum and our stock as cultural artefacts. I am a shy person but once I set my mind to something I can be a bit over-confident, because I realise I have to deliver.”  

From money making to money management 

Vato remains motivated to build financial security for his family. “Once you’ve experienced your family suffering financial loss and heartache, you never want to see that happening again. It taught me to never give up. You move onto the next thing and make that work. Use the last failure as your next driver. Giving up is not an option. Find another way.” 

Now at the age of 30, he is waking up to the truth that the management of money is equally if not more important than the making of money. “You can make money until you die. Once you can become desensitised to money (and reach the point) where it can’t control you or have you in a vice – you are who you are with or without money – it can become a weapon for you or against you. I’m working towards the point where it’s meaningless to me – I can just keep making it and investing it. I’m no longer ‘ruined’ when I lose money. Life is unpredictable and I’m sure I’ll keep paying school fees for the rest of my life, but I can keep moving forward.” 

Vato still feels young and small and realises he has a long way to go to reach all his dreams. “It’s comforting and inspiring to have people around you recognise your effort. You can use your motivation to keep striving, to keep moving forward and to keep building financial security for the future.” 

Don’t miss the next instalment of The Few, brought to you by Xapo Bank. Next, hip hop artist Siya ‘Slikour’ Metane will be telling us his story of passion and purpose in the world of music.   

 The Few, brought to you by Xapo Bank, explored the stories of four changemakers who march to their own drum. Theirs are the stories of unwavering belief. What we see in them, we see in ourselves. In Week 1 we were joined by tech entrepreneur Rapelang Rabana. Next we heard the life stories of artist and entrepreneur Fhatuwane Mukheli. In this episode we listen to the story of  streetwear entrepreneur and DJ Vato Kayde. In the coming days we’ll also hear from hip hop artist Siya Metane, better known in the music industry as Slikour. DM


About Xapo Private Bank: 

Secure and regulated, modern and innovative, Xapo Bank is the no-compromise international private bank for those who want the freedom to protect and grow their wealth, wherever they are from. 

Founded in 2013 by Wences Casares, who witnessed first hand the devastating impact of being unable to access the right financial services to manage money safely and effectively, Xapo Bank brings together the security of international banking with the flexibility of Bitcoin and the simplicity of neobanks.

A fully regulated bank, Xapo Bank enables its members to access Bitcoin, stablecoins and USD allowing them to manage their money better whilst protecting and growing their wealth from anywhere in the world. Similar to other licensed banks in Europe and the UK, fiat deposits at Xapo Bank are guaranteed for up to the USD equivalent of  €100 000.00 under the Gibraltar Deposit Guarantee Scheme. It is currently paying 4.1% interest on USD deposits, available on demand, with no lock ups. 

Xapo Bank’s advisory panel includes former Citibank CEO and chairman John Reed and former US Secretary of Treasury Larry Summers (and included the late Visa founder Dee Hocks until his passing last year), and its C-Suite is comprised of global leaders in fintech and banking from companies such as PayPal, Libra, Standard Chartered, Credit Suisse and more. CEO Seamus Rocca was previously Group Head of Liquidity and Funding Risk at Standard Chartered Bank in London. 

The world’s first fully licensed crypto-native bank, Xapo was conceptualised and funded in Silicon Valley and uses best in class technology to safeguard its members’ and its own reserves. It holds one of the world’s largest distributed reserves of Bitcoin. 

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