EBONY BY RINDA
RIN (Rina) DA (Dayan) = RINDA
Dayan Masinde (pictured above right), the Creative Director of Ebony by Rinda is an all round artist: fashion designer, poet, painter, sketch artist, media enthusiast and innovator. Any creative venture, you will find Dayan there learning or actively doing something. With an infectious laugh, smile and positive attitude to life and change, it was only in due time that fashion would find him. Rina Jamhurii (pictured above left), the CEO, being an African activist at heart as she grew up, believed in the fashion industry in Africa and its potential and so decided to do something about it. When the two of them came together, Dayan and Rina immediately immersed themselves into fashion, designing the brand the clothes.
Their vision is to have the brand not strictly Kenyan but really about Africa. With networks in different parts of Africa such as Ghana, Tanzania and Seychelles they are able to pick out material from different parts of Africa and so represent them in their collections.
“Their passion is not only to create African goods but also to market it worldwide.”
Rina Jamhurii, who travels quite often, does the networking abroad selling their goods where she ends up like Japan and Dubai. Dayan Masinde deals with communication within the networks. Ebony by Rinda also has tailors in Dubai and Kenya specifying in different tasks and providing the services there for obvious reasons of convenience. One tailor, for example, specializes in embroidery and another with dresses.
Their niche market is the middle class and anyone who is willing to spend to look good. They not only sell just clothes but art through fashion. They simultaneously have collections but also customize for events like weddings and sometimes for a frequent client wherever they may be in the world. They started Ebony by Rinda in March 2013 finally deciding to put words into action, as this had been their plan for some time. It started off with sketching quite a bit, selling goods to family then opening a Facebook page and a website (see below for the link).
He recalled one time when one customer inspired and challenged them to get out there, to reach out and market there brand more fervently – stretching past the phase of family as customers.
They decided therefore, in spirit of getting out there, to showcase at Nairobi Fashion Week this year (see post on Nairobi Fashion Week) that was held at the Hilton Hotel in and at the Divas Clinic at Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club.
The company has built networks in Ghana, having travelled there, they got their first idea with the Ghanian Kente cloth (pictured below) creating a pencil skirt. When they came home, the executed that and went further with bags, shoes, shorts, men’s clothing and dresses. Getting their inspiration from different African countries they strive to combine culture, material and fashion. Essentially, do not be surprised then to see a dress with west African material, South African embroidery and Kenyan inspired shoes. Definitely embodying Pan Africanism (solidarity of Africans) through their brand. One of their plans is to enter into leather products: primarily bags and shoes.
When asked about his views on the Kenyan Fashion industry, Dayan recalled one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s speeches in which he discussed the government’s strategies in regard to the textile industry. The media, he states, unfortunately side stepped this concern, which needed more airtime as a pertinent issue. Having done extensive research on the leather industry, he expressed his sadness on the monopoly held by some. Having enquired on the industry, he determined that there is a lot that can be done.
“The country has a huge potential when it comes to fashion and a lot of it is happening on the fringes of society. There needs to be something mainstream.”
His take is that the audiences at fashion weeks are mainly fashion designers, fashion bloggers and fashion enthusiasts but unfortunately not as many customers who should be the focus.
Having noted that the largest market turnover in textiles derives from through Export Processing Zones without much similar growth in the local industry. With this lack of infiltration in the local market, he does stress that he would like people to buy from Kenyan brands not out of pity but because of the quality, value and dedication. “Support is a word that I would give to the government and purchase for the consumer.” When it comes to Export Processing Zones, it is just one of the avenues being used to profit the country but not the only one.
He also mentioned the need for collaborations and openness in the industry. There is quite a bit of individuality and sheltering, he remarked. One of the organizations he mentioned impressed him quite a bit is the Association of Fashion Designers in Kenya (See Betty Vanetti article on AFAD as one of its members).
“The industry needs to have longevity and grow so there is a need to share experiences and ways to improve. If we can develop that attitude of working together, it’s going to be very good.”
But he also cited that this lack of cooperation is due in part to possible personal experiences – stemming from lack of professionalism and a lack of trust.
“There is a lot of pan Africanism nowadays.” This is where the company’s slogan came from “Africa High Fashion. Where Pan Africanism meets Fashion.”
He stressed that the onus lies on the designer to produce something of quality and to avail it to the consumers sometimes at a good price and sometimes at a premium price. Fashion is a business after all. When it comes to the creative industry, “we tend to be limited by our creativity by virtue of not taking into account the business side of things. There is a need to include other professionals in the industry such as bankers, economists, media and the like.”
For upcoming designers, here is what Dayan had to say:
“Training is important, formal education (if you can- well and good). There is no reason to learn, make too many mistakes on the way when other people have done it before you and can help you.” He also explained that finding a mentor would be a good way to go forward and to learn. Attending events, observing, criticizing and turning a flaw into an opportunity. I think the moral of the story is to be involved as much as you can in the industry you plan to infiltrate. Starting early will enable you to learn more and give you time to build your brand.
Finally he mentioned his philosophy on this, “speak less, and do more. Get involved and make your mistakes. Start early.”
The new collection should be coming out mid November so we shall be keeping a look out. As we wait, take a look at the present Ebony by Rinda collection. [pictures provided by Ebony by Rinda]