Having grown what’s become the biggest black-owned professional tattoo shop in Africa, co-owner of Soweto Ink, Ndumiso Ramate, is expanding SA’s tattoo culture.

Before they built an international, black-owned tattoo shop franchise, co-owners, Ndumiso Ramate and Sibusiso Dlamini, could have gone in any number of different directions. Farming, music and events all called Ndumiso, until a deep family loss led him to make his mark in ink.

We spend the day with Capitec merchant and co-owner, Ndumiso, as he reflects on the tattoo brand’s journey to business success – from his first ink to honour the loss of his brother, Fundile Ramate, to their initial garage studio and finally, the leap of faith he made to leave his 9 – 5 and focus full-time on growing their business and the tattoo culture within the African community.

Breaking the mould of the typical studio owner, Ndumiso explains,  “We started Soweto Ink back in 2014 with my business partner, Sibusiso Dlamini. There was a lack of black professional tattoo shops in the industry and around Soweto, so, we came up with the whole concept and idea and gave birth to the whole brand.” He explains that the history of tattooing in Africa was informal in style – not known for using proper ink or even equipment and demonstrated only limited artistry and skill. But times have changed and the market has evolved – thanks largely to operations and studios like Soweto Ink.

The service offered of getting a quality tattoo in a professional environment is central to their experience, and Ndumiso breaks down what a good tattoo is to them. He tells us that knowing the exact design and style wanted and executing this with skill, ensures a customer walks out pleased with the result.

Soweto Ink was established to help train African tattoo artists whilst also expanding their culture. As it has for co-founder Sibisiso Dlamini’s younger brother, Head Artist Sbonelo. He shares, “What makes it special to work at Soweto Ink, I would say, is because we specialise on black skin. ” And, even more importantly, the team is willing to teach and share with others in the industry as well. For Sbonelo, driven by the love of art, job satisfaction is seeing a client walk out happy.

To help grow what’s become the biggest, black-owned, professional tattoo shop in Africa, the gents turned to a bank who does the essentials best. Proud Capitec merchant, Ndumiso, tells us, “The reason I joined Capitec is because of their efficient app use. As a person that travels a lot, I don’t really have much time to be going to the branches or to the banks, so I can easily access my transactions online and pay people.” He says Capitec are the right fit for their brand, because they too have broken the mould by offering complete convenience and simplicity in banking. He adds that their low transactional fees have gone a long way to support and help the running of their daily operations, assist with the execution of their expansion so far, and to encourage further growth. 

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With this encouragement, Soweto Ink has become the first tattoo shop in Soweto to host a yearly, international convention bringing together a community of tattoo people, opening up to people that want to learn and understand the business and the industry of tattooing. This will take place this year at The Orlando Stadium on 26 November. For more details, visit .

At the end of the day, Ndumiso says, “What makes me super proud of Soweto Ink, a brand in tattooing, is because we’ve helped a lot of people that go through a lot in terms of what they are feeling inside and have helped them express their emotions and assisted them in getting tattoos of their loved ones. So, seeing them being satisfied with the feeling that those people are close to them, satisfies us also as a business, because we are making sure we deliver to our clients.”

It is this passion to deliver that lies at the heart of their success, and their drive to continue to learn, grow and uplift the industry has resulted in the brand Soweto Ink truly breaking the mould by making their mark and living better.



Stand the chance of winning R1000 cash with Capitec.

Reply to the competition post on The Insider SA social media platforms and tell us how you are breaking the mould to live better. Remember to include #CapitecLiveBetter in your entry. The competition closes at midnight on Sunday 27 November. Ts&Cs apply and can be found here



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