This is a story about a man called Matimba from Rhodesia (as it was then) and my most successful client.
I was thinking a while back about how the connections we make throughout our lives with lead to us meeting other people, what that leads to and so on.
I then started thinking about my most succesful client – and by that I’m not just talking about who has paid me the most money over time, but how they have connected me to other people, the relationship I’ve enjoyed with them, both business-wise and personally, how they’ve helped me grow professionally and as a person. The list goes on and more about that someday soon.
So this ‘most successful client’ – I thought about how I came to know him and who I met him through, etcetera, etcetera. But that in some ways would be too easy. So I thought about what led him not only to be my best client but also how I was involved in the success of his business – not necessarily as a direct result of the web design and print work I did for him, but more about the connections I made for him and how that helped him strike gold.
Those who work with me know that I’m not a programmer. That bit of the web I work with collaborators on. So I started working with my best client, let’s call him B. He needed a programmer as well as me, a web and graphic designer to help him sell his products online.
Well I can trace my connection with a particular firm of programming experts and their subsequent work for B that ended up making him a success online, leading to a massive buyout of his business, right the way back to a man called Matimba who was from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
Here’s how it goes…
My father was friends with Matimba because they were both printers back in the early 1970s. Matimba was returning back to his homeland to live and offered my father his book of customers – naturally my father agreed as he already knew some of them.
One of those customers that my father had inherited from Matimba was a Pakistani goldsmith and jeweller. My father did print work for him and became friends – I remember as a young child going round their house with my parents and enjoying cups of the most delicious tea – milk boiled in a saucepan with the tea and sugar added and then served up in mugs. Delicious!
Anyway, some years later that gentleman mentioned my father to another Pakistani gentleman who was starting up in the print business and needed some help and advice on where to buy the right machinery etcetera etcetera. My father being passionate about his craft naturally jumped to the task and spent some time helping this guy get set up. However, some years later he recognised that the world of small scale printing using secondhand machinery that almost always needed lots of servicing (and probably throwing in the skip) was not for him and turned his hand to other things.
This guy in turn recommended my father to a man who had a small local shop specialising in selling custom built PCs — back in the day when it was the in-thing to specify all the parts you wanted for the latest computer and have it built to order (is that still a thing in this day and age?).
Soon after my father passed away. I inherited his print business – slowly evolving it into a broader design and print business, shortly before the internet was becoming a big thing to us normal folk.
The man who built computers put me in touch with a lady he knew who was setting up a women’s magazine — not the kind you find in the newsagents but one focusing on women as entrepreneurs and business owners. She asked me if I could help her design a prototype first issue of the magazine. The project didn’t get off the ground and I never really got paid properly for the work I put in. But I persisted as not all projects are instant successes and others never make it – not for the lack of trying though.
The lady had a daughter who was going out with a guy who was also setting up a magazine – a property magazine. The type that has countless adverts from estate agents offering all manner of properties from two-up two-downs to mansions. Said guy was looking for a designer to help him design the magazine that would go off to the printers to be printed and hit the streets within 24hrs. Well the daughter mentioned that her mother was working with a guy who was helping her with designing her publication – lucky for me that I decided to stick with the semi-paying design gig otherwise I may not have received that glowing recommendation.
So I started working with this guy and it was a regular and good source of income. However, after designing and putting to bed the first sixty-nine issues of the magazine, I’d had enough of the repetitious nature of the job and decided to move on.
During this time though, I met this firm of programmers that I mentioned earlier on and who were instrumental in the success of my client’s business. They were working with my property magazine client to launch by this time the online version of the magazine. I started chatting with them as I’d got into website design realising it was the future and was going to seriously dent my print and design business. I introduced them to B and they were instantly able to help with the programming and back-end side of things to fulfil the products he was selling online.
So there you have it, a 40 year history of how a man from Rhodesia is connected to the success of my best client with some of the twists and turns along the way and decisions made that may not have been exactly fruitful at the time but ultimately over the years have led to something.