By Roxy Marosa
(HN, August 25, 2010) David Von Kittelberger is proof that you can achieve the goals you set for yourself if you do what it takes and learn the lessons presented to you.
When I first met David, he came across as a down to earth man, whom in no time I started to relate to as if we were long-time friends. I quickly learned that he was someone who had interacted with celebrities that many young South Africans would only dream of.
In the past five months I have seen a creative side of him come out, which I didn’t even know existed.
My initial motivation to write about David was due to his humbleness, and particularly because of my passion for making a difference and inspiring people. With so much to write about, I decided to focus on how his career evolved - hoping that it would serve as an inspiration to so many who are stuck in a rut or in a daily grind.
To me David is a celebrity - but his humbleness is what sets him apart from the A-list crowd.
David says dressing women is his creative side. He is passionate about transforming women into who they really want to be, and boosting their confidence through fashion. His passion started with his love for art, although he could not paint and was not a gallery aficionado.
David first came into touch with his creative side as a child, being raised in a household with mainly women.
During a recent visit to Cape Town - where he has started to make a splash - he humbly related to me the story of how he was often asked by his aunts to look for a missing shoe or others items that mysteriously went astray. Lucky for him, he had a knack for always finding things.
Even to this day, David prides himself with finding missing stuff however small they may be. Most kids either refuse or become annoyed when asked to search for something that isn’t theirs. David says he just did what was asked of him.
David’s mother and aunts would indirectly reward their young sleuth by empowering him to render an opinion on how they looked. David said, thanks to his advice, his family never left home looking tacky. They always dressed well.
Eventually, as word of his panache spread, David’s sage advice was sought by others and a growing number of people began to wear his style touch.
That quickly led to invitations for David to do personal shopping for friends and family. He did this during the time of his studies, which he completed successfully.
As David describes how his first career move was to join a bank, I can’t help but chuckle. Hmmmm....styling and banking. “I often got bored in the bank, because I always finished my tasks quickly, and ended up having nothing to do afterwards.” After enough boredom, David announced to his mother that he would be moving from upstate New York to the Big Apple.
Even though it was met by parental disapproval, David believed in his destiny, and he would say that to people. ‘I set myself and thoughts through my speaking and declared that I will work for a top female celebrity.” With no job or apartment, for David the abrupt move was an epiphany of sorts.
At this point it struck me how similar his story is to the experience of many people in South Africa - who, over the years - moved from distant places to what is now Gauteng ("place of gold"), one of the nine provinces and the wealthiest, to seek employment or a platform to become an artist.
For David in New York City, he was quickly amazed at how things fell into place. He acquired an apartment which he could afford to pay from the little money he had saved. He also got to know of one of the top retail companies that happened to be seeking sales people. For David, it was an entree into high fashion designs.
He worked there for two years - all the while thinking of how to achieve his dream of being a stylist for a top female celebrity.
This is where history started to replay itself. Most of the customers were celebrities - and like his relatives many years ago, appreciated being dressed by him.
His forte was dressing them to match their body types, and over time, he was able to fine tune his craft.
Being the humble person he is, and passionate about dressing women, David built deeper relationships with customers, who subsequently sent him referrals. Calls began to come in for off-site consultations and David’s Rolodex of A-list names began to grow incredibly fast.
Some celebrities who still came into the store would have his manager call him even when he was off duty - including people like Oprah Winfrey, Cher and a number of other stars.
Then his career suddenly took a huge turn. Beyonce and Jay-Z popped into the store one day and David did not recognize them until Beyonce took off her sunglasses.
"She was so sweet,” he says. He gave his usual outstanding service, and in no time, Beyonce became a loyal client.
Requests from A-listers for David’s services multiplied and it led him to eventually start his own company, focusing on style and image. He even expanded to consulting men, as many female clients said they were unhappy with the way their partners dressed.
So demanding was the work that David decided to focus on one celebrity client - Beyonce. "It was at this point that I knew I had accomplished my goal without even realizing it."
He said moving from the retail business was refreshing. “Working for Beyonce I realized that I was prepared by the lessons I learned during this time. My time with Beyonce was really refreshing because I fulfilled my dream on my own.”
He proudly says that he got to interact with people he only read about – and that made his dream seem so far fetched.
David’s main lesson? When you realize that your destiny lies in your own hands, it’s exhilarating, refreshing.
David worked for Beyonce for four years, and is now venturing to his next dream: starting clothing and jewelry lines.
Writing about David is a great opportunity to reflect back on my own life. Said David: "No one ever asks me how my career came about, so I am so pleased and moved to revisit my life through my story. This has also been an opportunity to affirm what I believe in – that my destiny is in my hands."
I also hope that David's story will inspire my fellow South Africans. You see, although a few people here are driven and are clear about what they want to accomplish in their lives, many South Africans - and perhaps people in general - end up in work that they got because it was just available.
If you speak to someone who is unemployed and asked them "what do you want to do?" The most likely reply you will get is – "anything." A number of people do jobs just to pay the bills, while the other few strive to express their passion through their work. Is it possible that our upbringing has something to do with it?
I remember as a young girl, I loved dancing, singing and modelling. I sang in the school choir, danced at school concerts and entered beauty competitions. I was passionate about it. My results in all these areas were excellent. But to do this I sometimes had to sneak out of home or pretend to go visit a friend because my parents were against me performing - saying that they were protecting me from chasing an impossible dream.
I hope you can now appreciate how enjoyable it was for me to learn David's story of passion and resilience.