Tie one on – Winnipeg Free Press

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Guylain Nkongolo, owner of Lula Nga, says the goal is to appeal to a wide audience. DAVID LIPNOWSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

We’re not sure how much traffic the Winnipeg Free Press website generates in Nigeria, but Guylain Nkongolo hopes Oshole Kanabe, his childhood friend who lives in the West African nation, reads this story online, if only to prove Nkongolo hasn’t been pulling his pal’s leg for the last little while.

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.

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