‘I am only a copy of myself’
Meet the talented jewelry designer who was nominated as a designer to watch in last year’s Kenya Fashion Awards.
In a few words how would you describe yourself?
As an innovative designer coming from a family background of creative people. I had always been the best in art and crafts and creative activities since my childhood which turned into a lifetime passion and profession despite my childhood dream to become an architect or a pilot. I sketched amazing drawings in school from abstract, still life to imaginary. My passion for creativity showed undoubtedly towards the direction my future would tread on.
What did you study in university?
I studied Interior Design while helping to run the family’s engineering business. But I’m currently working full time in jewelry and fashion design.
Besides jewelry what else do you design?
The people who know my talent have brought some projects my way which I had no idea I could design or produce. I actually pulled them off thanks to the Almighty. I design Interiors, jewelry, clothing, home accessories like tie backs, furniture, wrought iron accessories, paintings and pictures, exclusive gift hampers for cooperates and the list goes on and on so long as you just ask and you shall be answered with a ‘yes’, ‘I can try it out’ or a ‘no’. Oh yes! I have also designed wedding cards for a close friend.
What has been your biggest break?
My showcase at the London Fashion week 2009 which was my official début into this world of Fashion, Glitz and Glamour. The second was creating an Avant Garde red dress for a local competition that was cancelled last minute which symbolized health alertness for women. My third and best was winning the ‘Best Accessory Designer of Africa of the Year 2014’ and ‘Best Overall Designer of Africa of the Year 2014’ at the Mercedes Benz African Fashion Festival in Accra, Ghana.
What challenges do you face as a local designer?
Availability from some suppliers once they see you are rising in popularity, appearing in the media, it leads to some of them thinking that you have money hence increasing prices of materials every time you make a purchase. In return this makes a huge difference in the final prices of the product as time goes by. This creates a negative image on some regular clients as they feel that they have become a “money making scheme”, which is not the case.
What is your opinion of the local fashion industry?
This is a very good question. It’s getting better not just locally but across the globe all thanks to the genuine designers who are going out of their way to show the world how they can transform normal fabric or metal into an outstanding piece of wearable art. On the other hand, we have the “so called” designers who pick ideas from originals, hard thought and created designs and shamelessly go ahead replicating them in low quality thinking they have done the world a favour. This results in all Kenyan products looking similar across boutiques and shops all over.
It’s a shame but yet a fact and one of the main reasons our fashion industry doesn’t grow rapidly is because of such “people” who are stealing designs and ideas. A very good example is my Signature of the back jewelry which everyone knows originated from Niku Singh. But if you look at designers who have been in the industry longer than I have, they have ended up copying my style in their pieces. Being innovative and original just isn’t anyone’s cup of tea. If you call yourself a designer you should “set your own trend.”
Tell us something about your family...
My family has been my strength through thick and thin. Like most Kenyan Asians do, I still live with them and might consider the same whenever I get on the path of settling down. Living together really teaches us a lot as we go on with our daily lives.