Newcomers Series – New kids on the block – Editor’s Note

Is this really Kenyan?

One of the many frequent questions we get in the store that we are most proud of. Why? Because we get to change the perception of what a Kenyan designer is and when we keep uncovering new designers who are doing amazing things – that is what gives us the motivation to keep going. These next two months, we want to uncover new designers and feature the ones we have come across who have beautiful pieces, beautiful stories and great work. We will also be featuring designers who are not completely new but because we haven’t shared their story – they will also make an appearance.

(c) Yaa_Spiral_Ring by La Kwetu

New designers cropping up is definitely a good sign that the creative industry is getting more traction and people are starting to recognize two things: 1. This could be a career and 2. This could be a successful business as seen by others. There is so much information on the industry right now than there was 4 years ago. Creatives are sharing and working with each other – there are more opportunities to buy local and consume local brands. So what does this mean for the industry?

Well, a couple of things. This means that the fashion economy is growing and with every purchase made for a local brand – there are people in this country benefiting directly and indirectly from the designers to the digital storytellers.

Ceto Sandals (c)Ikwetta

Alas, there is a still a misunderstanding that we have been observing from those who come up in the industry and begin to call themselves a fashion designer before truly understanding the fashion business. This is not being said to discourage those who are coming up but we believe that we want to educate you the right way from the beginning to help you grow and become a sustainable business. Once again, the best way to start looking at your career in fashion design is to look at it as a business. Once you start that way then you can look at all the elements that piece them together into a profitable business. Click here to begin your fashion business journey.

So based on the above – what is your brand all about? Is it that one coat you made with print that sold 20 pieces and haven’t designed anything else? So what happens when your neighbour makes the same jacket and sells out your idea and you have those same 20 jackets in your bag that haven’t sold for a month or two months? So does your brand fail at that point and you move on to another business idea? How do you take your brand and turn into a business with legs to walk then run?

(c) Xena-kiya_choker by La Kwetu

If you look at your brand as a business you begin to ask yourself questions that will advance your brand beyond one product offering that may be easily replicate by your competitor. You will begin to determine what your company is about, what your product offering is a company, what your design aesthetic is all about and what story you are trying to tell that differentiates you. You will also determine your business mission, vision and other business plan elements to give your business a path to walk on. This will go into how to name your business (read here on how to do that), what your website will be like and if you need business cards, what will they look like. You will then start looking into the production process and who your target market is, how many you should produce, how much does it cost and what your financials look like.

I think you get the idea – there is a lot more to being a fashion designer than meets the eye. When you see that dress on a hanger or that piece of jewellery, there was a thought, a plan and investment behind it. A fashion designer is both a businessperson and a creative – something that is quite hard to do.

Designs by @qaaldesigns | Captured by @armstrong_too | Location Two Rivers Mall

So what will we get into these next two months? We will be showing you fashion designers in Kenya and on the continent who have taken their creative passions and turned them into businesses. This is an opportunity as a consumer to find a new designer to fall in love with and for designers to be inspired and learn from them. Your journey is not unique so we can continuously learn from each other (ie. not copy) and grow into our own.

So are you ready to discover who these designers are? We are.

Let’s get started.

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Author: Wanjiku N. M | Editor and Founder of TDS | Twitter: @WanjikuNM

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