Nkongolo is the brains behind Lula Nga, a home-based business specializing in men’s fashion accessories, many of which are created out of textiles imported from Nkongolo’s birthplace, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When Nkongolo told his buddy about his venture a few months ago, the response was, “No way. You don’t have that kind of talent.”
“Earlier in the week, I texted him to say I was going to be talking to a reporter about my stuff,” Nkongolo says, seated next to his brother-in-law and marketing manager, Kenan Kamanga, in a St. Boniface coffee shop. “He texted me back saying, ‘That’s good. I hope the writer gets to the bottom of who’s really making it.’”
Nkongolo, 35, was born in Kinshasa, a city of 10 million-plus residents. His father, a former university professor in the DRC, moved to Quebec City in the late 1980s to pursue a master’s degree. He ended up staying in Canada but it wasn’t until 1995 that his wife and five children — Nkongolo is the second oldest — were able to join him.