What do you do for a living?
I am an editorial fashion stylist. I have worked for Adam Magazine, True Love, Move, Drum, and Grazia (South African Magazine). My job is to tell stories using fashion visuals.
How have you managed to remain relevant in an industry that is constantly changing?
I have learnt to enjoy every step, to master the art of telling fashion stories in the most captivating way, and to constantly evolve. When I first came back to Kenya after being abroad, my first styling Job was with Adam Magazine back in 2010, and adjusting to the Kenyan fashion industry was a bit of a challenge. I had been exposed abroad to uninhibited facets of fashion, and so I had an out-of-the-box type of thinking.
Also, Kenyan male editorial fashion was hard to execute for the stockist and retailers fashion merchandise were outdated and far away from the current aesthetic fashion trends in high street, but after a while I realised that the market was not ready for that so I had to tone down my concepts.
You are in a profession that is crowded with women, have you faced gender discrimination in your line of work?
I wouldn’t call it discrimination exactly, but misunderstanding due to the cultural perception in Kenya that fashion is a woman’s world. I got myself around the fashion elite in Kenya who understood my passion for fashion, people who I didn’t have to explain myself to - unlike my former school mates who still call me a designer - and I was able to grow in my career.
What is it about editorial fashion styling that gives you a kick?
It is that noble space that I can express myself boldly, by dancing to dreamy waltz through story telling.
Any low career moments?
Back in 2013 when I came to realisation that my fashion career could not support me efficiently... that no amount of effort would change the situation as the industry is still young. So I took a break to venture into the restaurant business as cooking is my other passion. I started my first restaurant and now we have expanded to two outlets in Eastlands, Nairobi.
Did you get any formal training in editorial fashion styling?
No. After high school I was called to do Electrical Engineering but I dropped out on my second year and decided to do business first until I figured out what I wanted to do. I ran a phone shop in Mombasa and would travel to Dubai to buy phones to sell.
After doing that for a while, I decided to return to school. I moved to New Zealand to pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Otago but I did not finish as my mother passed on. My mother’s death left me lost and hopeless, but it was in this period that I became friends with a stylist, got to tag along and for the first time I felt like I belonged. I later moved to Dubai where I was a stylist assistant to Nallet of L’Official before I returned to Kenya in 2010.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Mombasa to a single mom. I have four siblings and I am the middle child. I liked mum’s flamboyant friends who would occasionally throng the house for a drink, while we would be locked up in our room. The laughs, music and adult conversations would inspire me to day dream about a life beyond the walls of the room which I shared with my four siblings.
Over the holidays, I would stay with my mum’s high school best friend Aunty Molly. She was married to a pilot and he would bring many fashion magazines home. The stories told by the visuals in the magazines would transport me to another world.
I would be drawn to the ad campaigns. One in particular was a tobacco advert which featured a lady holding a long slender SM cigarette with the string waves of smoke at the burning tip, seated lavishly in emerald green convertible, next to clean looking man on the driver’s seat.
What is your opinion on men’s fashion becoming feminine - men today are putting on everything from tight pants to floral prints?
It’s all about being fashionable. Skinny men silhouettes can be traced back to Gothic period of 1200-1480 where men would wear hose sewn together to make tight fitting trousers with codpiece, same with knee breeches (culottes) during baroque period.
These styles have evolved to be synonymous with ladies. In fashion, men should reflect from women’s and vice versa, the only difference would be functionality and construction that would differ owing to difference in anatomy.
What else do you do?
I have started a visual studio that offers styling services to editorials and visual merchandising services to fashion retailers. My first skill in mainstream fashion was when I worked for a while in Dubai. I have worked with Zading & Voltaire, Pull and Bear, sixty, Vera Moda and locally Mr Price, Angelo, Baby Shop and Store 66.
Are you dating?
Yes, I am dating. We are very private. She is in the airline industry, and interestingly enough not a keen follower of fashion but it's slowly rubbing off on her.