OLIVE GACHARA is the Editor-in-Chief, COUTURE Africa Magazine, Image Consultant, Fashion Stylist, Fashion Show Producer, Model Agent.
What do you believe is the ideal image for a woman?
A woman should be well put together and composed, all the while letting her personality shine through.
When starting Image with Olive Consultancy Ltd and Couture Africa Magazine, didn’t you feel too young to take the risks and how did people around your circle react?
I actually never looked at it as taking a risk. In my mind, the two companies are both destined to succeed. I wouldn’t have started either if I thought the risk was too big. It is actually through TV and print interviews where people ask me again and again about the risks I have taken that I realise I did sort of take some risk. The people around me cheered me on a lot, and never doubted my capability in succeeding.
Do you feel that Kenyan women are coming of age in terms of fashion and etiquette?
Women have always been conscious of their image from way back. The difference is that today, women are beginning to embrace their femininity in the work place.
How did your passion for fashion come about?
Every woman has a passion for fashion. It is one of the key elements that make us who we are. My elevated interest in the industry grew once I got into modelling, just after high school. Here was this very intricate, diverse field few people talked about, and even fewer celebrated – in Kenya at least. Once I started my modelling agency, the rest was history.
What was it like being the fashion stylist for Tusker Project Fame 3?
Wow... I have not thought about that in a while. It was a lot of fun, a lot of work, and a lot of egos to manage – just like any other day in Olive’s life. It was my first major television production, and I must say, it was an exciting environment to work in, combining music and fashion.
Any challenges you faced when starting out and how did you overcome them?
The challenges have been many in starting all my businesses – we could have an entirely separate conversation about that. One of the major challenges, however, is finding the right group of people who believe in you and your vision. People who are working not only for a pay check, but also because they love what they do and are ready to push boundaries. People who can complement – not imitate – my strengths. I am learning to hire and build partnerships based more on instinct. Any time I follow my gut, I seldom go wrong.
What would you regard as the highest achievement in your life?
I am just getting started. I mean, I am only 28 – there is not quite that much to look back to. However, if I had to pick one thing – gun to my head – it would probably be starting Couture Africa Magazine. It was (as people say) a great risk, and even higher investment financially, time-wise and in people. However, as we churn out issues month-after-month, we are slowly beginning to reap the benefits – a brand that I hope will be here 50, even 100 years from now.
You have been vocal on youth mentorship, how is it important to you?
I got to where I am because of guidance from my mentors. People who were ready to share information and guide me on my journey. I, therefore, feel that it is my prerogative to give back when I am still young. I am just your average Kenyan girl who had the confidence to do extraordinary things with the resources around her, and I would love to have other young people have the same self-assurance in themselves.
There is this notion...successful girls don’t want to settle down nowadays...what’s your take on this?
I know many successful women who are happily married and raising children – they are able to find the right mix. I think a successful career and a healthy family life are not mutually exclusive, and contrary to popular belief, one should not have to choose one or the other. A woman can have it all.
Are you seeing anyone special?
No, I’m not seeing anyone at the moment – not to contradict my previous statement though (laughs).
What do you love about being a woman?
Being a woman is lots of fun. We have so much to choose from, from fashion and accessories, to how we spend our time. What most men would consider complicated and unnecessary is what womanhood is all about! We revel in the complicated and find the ‘unnecessary’ absolutely necessary – basic after all, is boring!
How do you spend me-time?
I spend a lot of time with family, and a few close friends. I also love my alone-time where you will either find me sleeping, reading, or watching back-to-back episodes of whatever hot new series passed me by. Where time allows, I also travel often – mostly for leisure, which sometimes morphs into work.
Photo: Felix Kavii