ZAC RUSAGARA – Cofounder Chommies • Dog lover • Philosopher-connoiseur

FIELDBAR of choice: Safari White

RAPID FIRE 

Favourite time of day?
I’m an earlier riser at around 5am. I love my morning cup of tea when I can enjoy the morning view and the quietness of the city. I almost always go for a walk, either on the Sea Point Promenade or the Constantia Green Belt – and I’m done by 7.30am.

Idea of weekend fun?
My partner Nathalie (also the co founder of Chommies) and I love being in the mountains, exploring.

Favourite dog walking spot?
The Klaasenbosch trail in Constantia is one of our many favourites. It’s so green and lush.

Sunday morning walk?
There’s a trail we love in Hout Bay that takes you right up to a waterfall.

Canine-friendly campsites?
We’re not campers but a nice getaway that’s dog friendly is Kleinkloof Farm in the Piketberg. It’s so beautiful there and they have some amazing refurbished farm cottages.

Gin or Beer?
Gin! I love a good G&T and I only drink local offerings – I think
Hope Distillery gin is the very best. Nathalie loves her beer – she’s enjoying Cape Brewing Company (CBC) at the moment.

Sneakers or slip slops?
Sneakers for sure, especially old school Adidas, styled like vintage tennis shoes.

What design driven buys do you have your eye on?
I’m obsessed with my Hoy Ploy Molecule chandelier – I look at it everyday – it has the power to makes me so happy.

Next road trip?
We’re wanting to explore Africa more – Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia are calling.

What wardrobe must-haves are you packing for that weekend away? 
Decent trail shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen, versatile shorts to walk and swim in the river in.

A saying that sums you up?
Life is beautiful when you grab those spontaneous moments.

What Fieldbar colour speaks to you and why? 
I really love the Safari White. It reminds me of Africa with its off-white tone that looks like it’s made to be outdoors

MORE ABOUT ZAC

Tell us a bit about your career to date and what you’re up to right now?
I’ve worked in the economics and tech sectors and for the UN and I’ve always wanted to be involved with something with an altruistic edge. At the same time I’ve always dabbled in making things and I was searching for something that would fulfill me on a creative level and would somehow also give something to the world and to those involved in its creation.

Tell us how your work has shaped you over the years?
I believe that it’s possible to work with the mindset of giving back and be in business at the same time. I abhor the culture of discarding and feel very strongly that intentional designs have a power to help you to engage with the world – beautifully.

You and Nathalie started Chommies together, how did it all happen?
Our story is cute! Our dogs took an interest in one another at the Oranjezicht City Farmer’s Market and we got chatting. And we never really stopped chatting – first came Chommies, then came love. She has such a strong designer’s eye and honestly, she is a light in my world – I’ve never met anyone who sees life like she does.

What sparked the launch of Chommies?
We wanted something beautiful for our dogs and nothing caught our eyes that married beauty and functionality the way we wanted. We felt we could create something that was rugged, that reflected our Cape Town context and that showed a bit of humour and a certain cool factor without taking ourselves too seriously.

How has your brand shaped how you choose to live your life? 
More than anything I want to live an intentional life and I think Chommies sparks that in other people too.

Tell us about the name?
We wanted a name that was playful and that resonates with South Africans and of course our dogs are our chommies. We’ve seen how other Chommies fans chat to each other while out with their dogs and we love that our brand is helping to connect people.

What Chommies developments are on the horizon?
We’re currently exploring more exporting to Europe but really we want to build a solid foundation in our hometown – and Cape Town specifically. We are so inspired by our city; it’s ever changing scenery, the different cultures and our staff and their creative input and skills sets.

What other Chommies products should we look out for?
Look out for our latest summer shopper baskets, as well as our new Fynbos collection, a collab with Beagle & Basset. The leads and collars of course, but we also have human accessories like iPhone necklaces and baskets. Everything we make has sustainability as the intention behind it. The rope is a super tough poly blend that’s designed to last and we use brass buckles that can withstand sea swims. We plan on being around for a long time.

Who is the Chommies fan?
Dogs of course and their owners. The relationship with the brand starts with dogs; we really believe that having a dog in your life can amplify your life – even from a design perspective.

What SA designers do you admire and why? 
The Fieldbar is beautiful. It’s the first product that’s excited me in a long time – you’ve taken a product that’s such a part of our landscape and made it iconic.

Your car is amazing, tell us more?
We love looking at products with fresh eyes and Nathalie always wanted a car born in the same year she was born. Nathalie had a clear vision for the end result, and she wanted to customise the car in a way that reflects what makes us happy. The exterior blue and interior cognac colour mimic the what you see outside during a road trip through Africa, specifically representing the earth and sky.

What do you think defines great taste? 
Integrity. You shouldn’t have to compromise beauty for function.
That notion really resonates with us.

Sundowner sessions – what’s going in your FIELDBAR? 
Dom Perignon – (jokes, sort of). I love Black Elephant Vintners in the summer – I love their wines. Also, green olives and not pitted, please. And some crackers.

What was the last Netflix series or doccie you watched that moved you? 

Definitely the latest Sir David Attenborough A Life on Our Planet. I love how it has made us all think so hard and that our decisions have an impact. And that sustainable design is what we need.