Reaping big from fashion business
Local fashion entrepreneurs have not been given the seriousness they deserve by many with the notion that people in the country prefer ready-made clothes and many do not trust local tailors to deliver excellent clothing.
But one Joshua Mungai Mayiani, a resident of Kajiado, saw an opportunity in the venture and quit a high paying job in one of the leading telcos in the country to concentrate fully in fashion and design.
Speaking to Wikendi, Mayiani, the founder and CEO of Kitengela Suits says quitting his job at the telco was a risk worth taking because with him around the venture started gaining more and more prominence albeit at a slower rate.
He could fully give all the attention to the business and manage it for maximum profits.
Passionate about fashion
“I have always been passionate about fashion and while still formally employed I put up a small shop in Kitengela and hired a helper and due to the rapid surge in customers demand I quit the job and concentrated fully in designing,” he says.
The IT graduate says his motivation to get into fashion and design was simply passion, adding that while growing up he was fascinated by how tailors took measures of customers and made fine clothes from fabrics for them.
“ In 2019 I bought a manual sewing machine that went for Sh4,000 using the savings I had from my previous job and rented a small room in the heart of the town,” he says.
Mayiani adds that his best friend who also doubles up as the reigning Miss tourism Kajiado County encouraged him to try out the business but warned him to ready himself for anything because it was risk taking.
He points out that the friend, Eunice Mayiamei at the time was planning to put up a fashion boutique shop in the same county and the venture could not come at a better time because the shop would be the starting point for marketing and selling his work.
“Actually I did not expect the business to pick that quickly,” he remarked, reiterating that after posting some of his work on social media he started getting orders from across the country and so far he gets orders from five counties and counting and they do deliveries at a small fee.
Thanks to the technology, clients do not have to come all the way to get their measurements taken.
They just do it themselves and choose what they prefer from the wide varieties posted on social media, then they negotiate the price and the current over eight designers get down to work.
The designer says that he saw an opportunity of expanding the business to include provision of event organisations like weddings.
“I realised that many of my clients requested designs for weddings and it hit me that I could kill two birds with one stone by doing event organisations and baking cakes for the event because when clients visit the shop they will hire wedding services like tents and chairs as well as chefs,” he says.
“The salary from the venture so far is satisfactory. I have been able to employ more than eight professional designers in a short span of time due to high demand and upgraded to modern machines,” he says.
Mayiani adds that should he be offered a tempting and well-paying job he will turn it down because what he earns from what he does is far more satisfactory than he had imagined.
In as much as any business can thrive quite well, some upheavals will always be there and one has to look for ways to cushion them to keep the business going.
“Some of the challenges I face in the venture include getting the best and professional designers and with the Covid-19 pandemic effects still being felt by the economy the prices of the fabrics for both local and imports have surged,” he says.
The powerhouse designs everything from customs outfits; dresses, suits, gowns and anything the clients request.
Mayiamei on the other hand tells Wikendi that when she saw how Mayiani’s business was thriving she dedicated a portion of what she earns as the county’s Miss Tourism to put up a boutique where she sells gents clothes some designed at Kitengela suits and others are shipped from Turkey.
“I started Kitengela fashions in 2020 because I realised there was a gap to be filled in the sense of clothing many people in the county and the country as a whole because due to the position I hold I travel a lot,” she says.
Mayiamei adds that she wanted to bring a fresh breath of air to the fashion industry and she shipped unique types of clothing which attracted many people both online and those who visit the shop physically.
With Sh200,000, she says, she shipped in a variety of garments from the gents to ladies and kids ones and rented a small space not far from Kitengela suits.
“I chose the location so that I could interact with clients who came to Kitengela Suits shop and show them my merchandise in the hope that they will buy them and bring their friends,” Mayiamei adds.
The third-time running Miss Tourism Kajiado says that whenever she visited a boutique in the area she realised that they stocked almost the same kind of clothes and she saw an opportunity of tapping clients by bringing in different tastes of clothing and footwear.
“So far I can’t complain because the business is just two months shy of one year old and with what I make now and the massive customer inquiries and following on my social platforms I am confident of making a killing from the venture,” she points out.
However, challenges still abound and Mayiamei says one of the major challenges is that of clients not willing to pay for an item according to quality and prefer to go for replicas of what she sells but of low quality.
“It’s a great disappointment when a customer orders a product and when they get to the country they start changing their minds after you have gone through all the troubles to pay the shipping fee,” she laments.
Mayiamei says with the business looking promising she plans to expand her business regionally in the near future and look for more capital to import the merchandise to stay afloat in the business.