Living away from home evokes a quiet storm, calmed by holding on to memorabilia that awakens a feeling of home, even for a moment.

For Ohio based Zimbabwean Ivan Munodawafa, his merchandise business 1980 T-Shirt Co is his tether.

Ivan Munodawafa, Founder 1980 T-Shirt Co.

Birthed out of conversations and moments spent reminiscing about home with family and friends, the decision to venture into casual wear, mainly t-shirts and hoodies was an easy choice.

“It was actually conversations about Zimbabwe’s past, present and future with family and friends all over the world as we always do. I came to the realization that even with the diverse opinions, thoughts, ideas and locations we were in we all shared the same type of love and nostalgia for Zimbabwe.”

The business started as a side hustle and now demands more of Ivan’s attention. A physical location of the store in downtown Cleveland CBD called Zambezi is where he found a home for his merch. To appeal to a global market, the brand also has an online store.

Each piece of clothing is etched with a statement symbolic to Zimbabwe. For Ivan, this signature element is critical. Notably, the 1980 t-shirts symbolizing the year Zimbabwe attained independence.

“People always ask me why 1980. They want to know the significance. I then explain the Zimbabwean story and it always leads to a conversation. That interaction always makes me feel reconnected. I think independence and new beginnings is a beautiful story and April 18th, 1980 is a significant and defining moment in that Zimbabwean story.”

If he could describe his business in one word, it would be ‘celebration’ It’s not surprising that his business values are attune to a celebratory mantra.

“Appreciation | Celebration |Education.

I strive for a dedication to the appreciation of all things Zimbabwean. The land, its recognition, its culture, people, sights, food and its potential.”

Ivan’s top 3 lessons for starting and running a business:

  1. If you plan on doing it well and for a while, find what you enjoy doing then figure out how to make money from it.
  2. Don’t sell anything that you would not buy yourself.
  3. Make time for family and fun regardless of how busy you get.

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