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Interview With Kenyan Designer Katungulu Mwendwa

By Stella WaAfrika


Katungulu Mwendwa is one of Kenya's up and coming young fashion designers who is driven and working hard to leave her mark in the African fashion industry. Being a fan of her fresh work, I couldn't help but get in touch with this creative force.

I had a few  questions for the talented Nairobi based designer and here's what she had to say:

Tell me more about yourself?
I have a terribly overactive imagination. Don’t really enjoy siting in rooms with pictures or statues of faces and people. I immediately give them sounds and personalities J totally entertaining though.

Where does your passion for fashion come from?

I really don’t know… I think its in my DNA. I love working with my hands and experimenting with different media and fashion allows me to do so.





When did you realise you can make clothes?

At that age when your parents allow you to use a pair of scissors and needle. However I seriously lacked the ability to rationalise and immediately proceeded to chop up the evening gown my mother wore for her wedding to make myself a pretty little dress.

What inspires your work?
My interest in African culture and my desire to preserve and be part of its evolution.

What would you say are the ups and downs in your line of work, given you’re new in the industry?

Financial

Resources

TAILORS!

2nd Hand clothing

This has been and shall continue to be a learning experience for me. Managing the business aspect of my work can be challenging, but I'm persevering.
I LOVE MY WORK!

What do you love most about your work?
Seeing the finished product. Gratification!

How has the reception been for your brand considering you’re new in such a competitive industry?

POSITIVE! I am really shocked by it…I mean here you are writing about me all the way in SA, who’d have thought?. I'm terribly grateful that people actually appreciate my work. It’s a wonderful feeling when someone tells me they love my work… Although I get kind of shy and don’t know what to do. Feel a little like the character “Chopper” in the anime series, One Piece.

How would you describe the fashion industry in Kenya?

Its EXCITING and Growing. I’ve come across so many talented designers…feels like it must be our time to bloom.

What dos and don’ts would you give to u aspiring designers?

IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT DESIGN! For your work to succeed you need to find a way to balance both the design and business aspect. I’m still learning and I know this won’t come over night.
Always be inquisitive and experiment, there is no limit to knowledge or creativity.
Follow your instincts and create first with your heart and then with your mind.





As a designer, how influential are trends to you? Are they a big part of your decision making?
Trends are of course influential in my work, after all it is still a business and people need to want to buy my clothes… but I use them more as a point of reference than the rule. If I don’t feel like it then I won’t use it. However I’m more drawn to classic looks.

Describe style in 3 words?
PERSONAL EXPRESSION FASHION

In your opinion, what’s the difference between style and fashion?
Style is personal expression achieved by fashion.

If you were given an opportunity which celebrity or famous person would you like to dress?
Mrs Obama, Kate Middleton, Liya Kebede, Agelique Kidjo,…(hahaha!) I need to start a men's line soon, because I really would like to dress everyone!

On a scale of 10, how would you rate your sense of style?
11! Like any self respecting fashion type person would say any different J

What’s the most fulfilling part of your job?
SOLD GARMENTS!



Which one do you prefer, books or movies?
Books, but I watch a lot of movies

What does being an African mean to you?
PASSION! SOUL! AND SELF EXPRESSION!

Who’s your role model?
My mothers (mother, aunts and grandmothers) these women are driven, soulful and intelligent. Never a day will I lack support, wisdom or direction.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Right here in Kenya running this globally recognised successful brand (I really am proudly and shamelessly Kenyan!)

How can people get a hold of you?
Please email me, follow me on facebook and twitter

Email: info@katungulumwendwa.com


Facebook: www.facebook.com/mwendwakatungulu


Twitter: @K_Mwendwa


Wishing you the best in your endeavours, Katungulu. From her response, you can tell she's passionate about her work and as if that's not enough, she's a young ambitious African woman. A rising star indeed.

For more information visit www.katungulumwendwa.com.

PS - Support African Designs ;-)

Photo Credit: Couture Africa Magazine (Shoot)




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Stella is the founder of WaAfrikaOnline.  A Pan-African at heart, passionate about Africa, human rights, women empowerment and girl child education. She's also into broadcasting. 
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