When THOMAS MWICIGI was growing up, he hoped to be the first African Pope. Today, he owns an international clothing line. He spoke to SHIRLEY GENGA
What do you do for a living?
I own Uhuru Clothing Line, a venture I began in 2007. It was meant to cater to a market that was looking for clothes and accessories that represented Africa. I chose the name ‘Uhuru’ because it means freedom in?Kiswahili. Freedom means a lot to me because when I quit my job to start the clothing line, everyone told me it could not be done. So Uhuru to me is a representation of that. We are free and can be anything we want to be — we only need to believe in ourselves. I have shops in London and Indiana in the USA. We also have an online presence.
Describe yourself in three words?
Spontaneous, driven and passionate.
Tell us something about your background?
I grew up in Muthaiga, Nairobi. We are six children in my family, four boys and two girls. I’m the second last born. I am mummy’s boy and I was very talkative. I often got into trouble for talking. I was the kid who teachers told kids not to talk to while in class (laughs).
What was your childhood dream?
My dream was to be the first black Pope; but as I got older, I was more drawn towards finance. I had a fascination with money and all aspects of it. In 2001, I left for the USA to study Finance at the University of Texas. While there, I got the chance to work in the banking industry as I attended went to school.
How did the idea for Uhuru clothing line come about?
I noticed that there were no clothes in any store that represented Africans. Sometimes I would get homesick and walk into a store looking for something that represented my homeland but there was nothing. I decided to make T-shirts that represented Africa and Uhuru Clothing line was born.
How did you sell your T-shirts?