Ruvimbo Katiyo was Miss Tourism Zimbabwe in 2012. We recently had a chat with her on career choices, beauty pageants and how life is as Miss Tourism Zimbabwe. Check out the cool and Inspirational Interview below.
Q: How would you best describe life in the USA for a young Zimbabwean woman?
A: No life story is identical, different people are bound to have different life experiences. For me staying in USA and doing my tertiary education there nurtured me in so many ways and opened my eyes to so many opportunities. I left Zimbabwe for USA during my teenage years after I received a full scholarship to study Chemistry at Berea College in Kentucky. The experience was nothing short of amazing. Most of my learning and nurturing happened outside my classroom domain. My Alma-mater is a small private collage and had international students from over 50 countries, so one can imagine how richly diverse and cosmopolitan the campus was. I could dine with fellow students from Morocco, Japan, Afghanistan, Ghana, Mexico, Brazil, Armenia, over a Nigerian dish while we are talking about an issue happening in China or Russia. That kind of experience was priceless and irreplaceable. I also played Tennis for my College and that allowed me to travel to other states and network with more people. All my experiences in USA nurtured me into a more patriotic and non-interventionist person that I am today.
Q: How did you start modelling?
A: I initially wanted to enter the Miss Zimbabwe Pageant in 2006, but I was still a teenager then and felt I lacked the emotional, financial and intellectual capacity to handle what it takes to be on such a platform. So I decided to pursue my tertiary education first, mature, get a job and then enter Miss Zimbabwe pageant. In 2011 I graduated from Berea College with a B.A in Chemistry, and that same year I entered the Miss Zimbabwe-USA pageant which was held in Cincinnati, Ohio. From there, I traveled to Zimbabwe to compete at the Miss Zimbabwe pageant in April 2012. This time, I felt more equipped and ready to fulfill my teenage dream.
Q: How would you best describe Ruvimbo?
A: I am a fighter, an aggressive one and I am a high achiever. I do not know what it means to give up. If I want something, no barrier can stop me. I will manoeuvre my way till I achieve it. I don’t believe in short cuts; hard work and prayer are my mantra. I am also very inquisitive.
Q: What’s A Typical Working Day Like For Ruvimbo?
A: My day is never the same and is never predictable but one thing that is consistence is my morning routine. When I wake up, I work out for 30minutes every day. I resigned from my 8-5 to focus on my entrepreneurial ventures, so my working hours vary a lot. I can be in my studio working on some jewellery pieces or some fashion designs or I can be out for a meeting or doing some consulting work for a client or you see me conducting a workshop. It’s never one thing. I will be starting my post graduate studies soon, so recently I have been studying a lot and also working on improving my French to professional proficiency.
Q: What are some of the privileges that came with being a Beauty Queen?
A: I was able to capitalize on my title and position to address social issues that I am passionate about and effect change along the way. During my reign, I had the opportunity to work with Plan International in their “Because I am A Girl Campaign.” Plan International gave me a voice by allowing me to share my story with young girls in Zimbabwe and also allowed me to share platforms with Ambassadors and some of our cabinet ministers. Such experiences not only expanded my network, but did a lot of character and confidence building in me. It taught me to be selfless, and know that being a beauty queen is not all about your crown and just sitting all high and mighty looking pretty. But it is about using your privilege and influence to edify and add value to the community around you. Past my reign, I have continued giving back to the community of Zimbabwe. In 2014 I conducted over 12 nationwide workshops working with over 2000 youths in a quest to promote Small to Medium ventures, resource mobilization and financial literacy.
Q: What did you want to become growing up?
A: I wanted to be a Fashion Designer, I used to draw and sketch a lot. I still have some of the amateur sketches. But I was raised to become a Doctor, Engineer or Pharmacist. That saw me doing Maths, Physics and Chemistry at A’ Level and proceeded to getting a degree in Chemistry, but that artistic side of me didn’t die, it just manifested at a later stage in my life.
Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A: I can’t really single out a specific thing as my source of inspiration. It’s an accumulation of a series of experiences that acted as building blocks and stepping stones; crafting my way of thinking and inspiring my decisions along the way. I don’t dwell much on my previous successes, I am always challenging myself to find ways to break new grounds. I constantly remind myself that there is a whole lot more to achieve; I haven’t arrived yet. That pushes me to keep on working hard.
Q: Where would you like to take your modelling career from here?
A: I don’t have a modelling career. I am a former beauty queen. Beauty queens only have a reign of one year all over the world. You compete in a pageant, if you win the reign is supposed to be only for a year, after which new winners are crowned, the queen and 2 princesses. That doesn’t sound like a career to me, but more of an appointment where you are supposed to serve and deliver in whatever community you will be operating from then move on when your term is over. I moved on.
Q: Having studied Chemistry one would expect your creative side to have been drowned out. How did the Zim Hair Show concept come about?
A: There is no way my creative side would just vanish. I am left handed, and you know what they say about left handed people? We are very creative, it’s inborn not sure if it applies to all lefties but it’s certainly true about me. Zimbabwe Hair Show is a concept that came along as a way to encourage creativity and artistry in the Hair Dressing industry. Last year was the pilot and teething stages but it gave me the opportunity to go back on the drawing board and take note of the highs and find a way to deal with the lows of the project while making sure it is sustainable.
Q: Can you tell us more about your project coming out later in June?
A: It’s a very exciting project and a way for me to keep giving back to the community of Zimbabwe and making use of my knowledge and expertise in the consumerist orb. I do not want to say much at the moment and create too much hype but when we launch, I will be very courteous enough to extend invites and give you a buzz.
Q: Are you driven by money or passion?
A: Passion all the way. If I was all about money, I wouldn’t have taken the risk of trading being a Chemist to exploring some entrepreneurial ventures I am passionate about, even though I knew I was trading on grounds full of uncertainty and complexity.
Q: Having experienced the modelling industries overseas, what do you think needs to be done to elevate our local industry to a level we can compete on the Global stage?
The modelling industry in Zimbabwe is not really at the stage where one can safely aspire to make a career out of it. Personally, self development and brand building by those who aspire to be models is very important. It is no secret that recently the Zim media circles were awash with negative news coming from the industry. Such kind of news doesn’t instil faith in any sponsors and partners and that causes a dearth in the growth of the industry because no one wants to associate with a brand that damages ones reputation. So I think there should be collective efforts from Modelling Agencies, Models and the license holders of local pageants to work together and make sure we produce individuals who have characters and personalities that are strong reputable brands. I also think that former beauty queens should be involved in mentoring the younger upcoming beauty queens. We have walked the road, we know the rough curves and we know where the tarmac is a smooth, the experience and knowledge we have can be capitalized on to make sure the ones after us can benefit from. Media also plays an important role in our society, sometimes as people we dwell so much on negative stories and overlook the positive ones. Let’s find the positive stories coming from those in the industry and objectively share them with the world.
Q: What type of music are you into?
A: I like old school, you will most likely hear music from the70s or 90s playing in my car. I love country music as well. I feel like I am an old soul in a youthful body sometimes but I still think my taste is impeccable.
Q: Ruvimbo has such a fresh dress sense, where do you draw your fashion inspiration from?
A: I like dressing up and looking great but I am very economical as well. So I don’t splurge on clothes, I design and make what I wear and I always make sure the cuts are perfect fit in order to complement my figure. Having that ability to make my own clothes and jewellery allows me to be as creative as I can with my look at a very minimal cost and it also gives me confidence knowing that my outfits are unique and my look is distinct.
Q:When did you realize you were passionate about fashion and do you have plans for this passion?
A: Since primary school, that’s why I did fashion and fabrics till O’ Level. And my maternal grandmother likes sewing and is very fashionable. I pinch some of her vintage outfits from her wardrobe and modify them to my taste. She gave me a sewing machine when I was in Grade 5 and that aided in nurturing my talent. While in USA, going to fashion shows in New York, Washington DC, Atlanta and Texas just opened my eyes even more to the world of fashion and afforded me the opportunity to see what the international market is like. I would like to hone my skills and make a huge impact commercially.
Q: What are some of the challenges you face today?
A: Being measured by the same yardstick as any past Miss Zimbabwe winners and being put in a bracket that is often negative. I am my own person with my own distinct story to tell. I have come to realize that staying relevant and current in this ever dynamic and changing world while I also stay true to myself and who I am is of paramount importance to me. Being in the public eye, you just never know who is watching your back and the slighted mistake you make can be amplified and before you blink, you are all over the media. We all know the digital world we are living in is very relentless. Being in the limelight also comes with responsibility; one just doesn’t know whose life they will inspire or who looks up to them so there is much pressure to lead an exemplary life. If you mess up you know you are going to have millions of people coming after you. It’s as if by failing or making a mistake, you have erred the nation. But that doesn’t have to change who you are as a person. One can capitalize on their status and influence for greater good and brand building.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I hope to have completed my MBA and whatever happens from there, I am not sure but I anticipate more of good things and my growth as an entrepreneur. I have goals and targets set, but I like the spontaneity that comes with the unknown and I like taking each day at a time and leaping or striding as and when I feel. The rest, I leave it in God’s hands. He has beautifully crafted my life thus far and I believe He has a bigger purpose for me that only the future will reveal.
Q: What do you look for in a life partner?
A: Someone who complements me and the causes I am passionate about and someone who by inviting me in his life I can also edify to his growth spiritually, emotionally and financially. Intelligence is very important as well; I can’t stand having a conversation with someone who is ignorant about global issues. And a keen traveler, I can’t envisage a life without exploring the world around me…
Q: Who is your Zim celeb crush?
A: I am past that stage of having a crush
Q: A lot of gents out there want to know if you are seeing anyone?
A: Check my Facebook relationship status; it’s as authentic as it can be.
Q: Your top 5 local musicians?
A: I am all about the message in the music. James Chimombe, Paul Matavire, Marshal Munhumumwe and Simon Chimbetu were deep and I find their music still very relevant. Long live their legacies. I find Alexio Kawara deep to the level of my liking too.
Q: Your top 5 local fashionistas?
A: I am more of style than fashion, what one wears has to resonate with their inner being. Fashion designers Danayi Chapfika, Farai Simoyi (She is based in USA), and Maita Marimo all have a sense of style that resonates a lot with mine, I feel like I can raid their wardrobe anytime. I also think Kiki Divaris and Ms Sue Peters have timeless styles that I wouldn’t mind borrowing when I reach their ages.
Q: What do you do for fun?
A: It depends; sometimes I like going out and doing outdoor activities with my friends and sometimes just reading a book or inspirational magazines. I like reading blogs or books by African writers.
Q: What are your favorite places to hang out in Harare?
I am an outdoor person. I love a bit of traveling and adventure. So I don’t really have a favorite place but I have activities I enjoy doing, regardless the space I am in.
Q: Do you think the youth of Zimbabwe are involved in the future of this country?
A: No doubt at all. I am very much inspired by the kind of energy and innovation our youths have. Some are coming up with amazing initiatives that are making a positive impact in our communities. Making change for the future starts with such collective efforts we are making today. Good or bad, I just hope we don’t lose the momentum for whatever reason.
Q: Any words of wisdom to the youth of Zimbabwe?
A: Building and maintaining good relationships with people is very important regardless of color, status or creed. Those who are in business if you are offering a service, your customers are imperial. Provide them with the best possible service that will make them want to associate with your brand. That is how you build a strong client base. In all our endeavors let’s be resilient and steadfast, giving our best efforts for a better tomorrow. There is no substitute for hard work, may hard work, honor, forthrightness and integrity preside over us in our undertakings.
Q: Where can your fans reach you?
Facebook: Ruvimbo Katiyo
Instagram: Ruvimbo Katiyo
My blog: www.ruvimbokatiyo.wordpress.com