Can you recall your first interactions with fashion?
My grandmother was a seamstress. I grew up seeing her make dresses for my younger cousins and sisters. I also loved dolls over cars: I was fascinated by the dresses. But I also paid attention to what my sisters and I wore.
Is fashion what you studied?
Yes. I graduated last year in December from Kenyatta University with Bachelor of Science degree in Fashion and Design.
Of all the careers, you chose fashion: why?
I was an accidental economist for one whole year when I joined school. I used to enter class and I would feel that I was in the wrong place. There was always a creative void in me. I decided to tell my parents that I wanted to pursue something I am comfortable with.
What was so weird about economics?
Economics was pure theoretical classes. I couldn’t sit for long: I am a person who is always up and down.And there was nothing creative about classes in monochromatic painted walls. I also remember I used to attend lectures in clothes I didn’t feel relatable with – clothes worn by economists. I never felt comfortable.
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How did your parents take the news that you wanted to drop economics for fashion?
My dad was a bit hesitant. He didn’t understand why I dropped a ‘money making’ career for fashion. But my mom and sisters who knew and understood my aspirations were supportive. They know I am not a white collar person. I had episodes in school where I wouldn’t concentrate in class because I am really artsy and I am such a talker.
Is your work limited to drawing the designs?
It is much more than conceptualising the designs. I go through the whole process from the sketch to the point there is a finished product. I will sketch, fabric source, pattern make... till the product is ready. I have obsessive-compulsive disorder and I don’t allow anybody else to work on my creations – especially for my women’s wear.
You seem to produce female wear only?
I only do clothes for women. My work with men’s wear is very minimal.
Why exclusively create clothes for women?
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I think women’s wear is innovative: there is a lot of experimentation with women’s wear. Men’s wear is limited to very few details. But then I was also making an economic decision: women spend more on fashion than men do. That is a fact.
That must be something you collected from the economics class?
By the time I was leaving for fashion I had sat through enough classes.
If by bad luck you never landed in fashion what else would you have done?
I think cooking: culinary arts. I love cooking. I am such a junky.
And if you didn’t study fashion at the university?
I would be stuck in some career somewhere with the fashion in me locked up.
Why should clients choose your products over others?
There is more than just design in my clothes. It is a story. I am giving people a part of my heart. I am sharing my happiness and my sadness in my clothes because I design from what happens in life. I am inspired by everything around me.
Explain the haircut and... what I am seeing?
This is me. I feel plain when I have a normal haircut. It is just a way of expressing myself. Growing out the beard is something I find fun. It is also a way of teasing my friends who don’t have beards.
And the accessories?
This is a ball ring. And something that my niece gave to me. I accessorise with anything. It is all about what is cool to you. I can turn a shoe lace into a bracelet.
Didn’t your friends tease you about loving dolls and being overtly aware of fashion?
In high school (Nyeri Baptist High school), I used to do repairs for my friends. My best friend made a joke that they (he and the other boys) should get me a sewing machine to make a living out of it in the dormitory.
When a client comes into your shop how do you handle her?
I listen to my clients keenly. I love having a relationship with them. I get to know her taste and what she prefers. From there, I can start creating what they want me to create for them.
How do you make them feel comfortable in your hands?
I am not intimidating. Those who come to me are already comfortable with me. I treat them as I would treat my older sisters – with respect and care.
If it is someone young, I would talk to her like I was her age...besides, I don’t want to be so formal to someone who may become my girlfriend in future.
Speaking of girlfriends, are you the one who designs her clothes?
I keep my family and people who are close to me away from my work. They can nag a lot. Business and family, I don’t mix.
You told me you love wearing black: why is that?
There is some mystery behind black. I feel comfortable in black. And it accentuates my skin colour. I am not comfortable in coloured garments.