One thing you should know about me is that I get extremely energized and inspired when am the one sharing a story of a great journey to success. And in this article I would like to introduce you to a new sizzling fashion brand called Mikazi.
Mikazi, based in Uganda- Africa is a fashion house dealing in African products for both ladies and gentlemen. They have a wide range of accessories from Dikwe clutch bags, Kikapu bags, envelope bags, jewelry (Nkwanzi necklaces, modern inspired necklaces, bracelets, ear pins, and cuffs), shoes (for both sexes) and laptop to iPad/tab pouches. Mikazi is slowly expanding into a clothing line.
Joanita Mumbua with a good friend & business partner of hers, Martha Musiime officially started Mikazi in February 2015. They had been working together in the past with some of the above mentioned products and decided that it was a good idea to partner up and start a business together.
I managed to score an interview with Joan Mumbua the co-founder of Mikazi and she clearly has a dream she has always held onto as shown below.
What’s your role at Mikazi?
J: I am the Director, Head of Operations and Customer Service Manager; 3 in 1 kind of position. As we are a startup business we dont have excess funds to employ many people. I run the social media pages, interface with customers, involved in idea and design generation of the products we manufacture.
Martha is the Technical Director involved in product designing and development and she is in charge of the 3 employees we have.
What inspired you to start your brand/business?
J:I got my inspiration from my mother. She is a successful business owner and I guess I got those business genes. After graduating from University and failing to get a job for 1 year, I got an idea of selling African products. I was living in Nairobi at the time, when I hired our first employee who made the Dikwe clutch bags. The bags would be bought in record time whenever I cameback to Uganda on holiday, so I thought to myself wow this can keep me busy till I get a job.
I continued with this till I was selling so many bags! I moved back to Uganda and got a job in August 2014 and decided to continue this side business. Martha and I had known each other for more than 5 years and she was also doing the same thing but with different products so a partnership was discussed and Mikazi was kick started.
What is your creative process in creating a collection? What inspires you and how do youget inspired?
J: Africa inspires me to be honest. Yes I know that may sound a bit cliche but its the reality. As we are slowly expanding our product list to include clothes; mens wear and accessories, most of our products are pre-designed unless a customer wants a bespoke item. We use only African material Kitenge in making the Kikapu bags, envelope bags and shoes. The Dikwe clutch bags are made from a variety of our materials. The Nkwanzi necklaces are made from African beads. We love Africa!
Tell us a little bit about the story of your line of bags? What inspired them?
J: In the traditional African culture, women would go to the gardens and harvest food be it maize, beans, tomatoes and place them in baskets. In modern day Africa, most ladies go to the grocery stores or food markets and purchase food stuffs from there. The Kikapu bag was inspired from this aspect. It is big enough to carry groceries, books (for students) and whatever else. It has enough space!
The dikwe clutch and envelope bags were inspired by the modern young adult African woman. A clutch bag can be held for formal occasions like weddings, office parties et al, when going out with friends, on a date, running errands and so forth. If you dont want to carry a huge bag and want something light these bags are for you!
Are your shoes originally made by Mikazi or just already made shoes spiced by Mikazi?
J: The shoes arent originally made by Mikazi. As you have said, we get already made new shoes and spice them up to make them more African! J Thats why we have an option to re-vamp customers shoes. This is where one brings old shoes and we re-design them using African fabric hence making them new.
How would you describe a perfect bag?
J: A perfect bag is a bag that is comfortable, can be worn with any outfit. A perfect bag can be used to dress down or up an outfit while enabling you to carry all your essentials. An aspect that our range of bags provides.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
J: Recently, someone reached out to me asking to be her business mentor. I was shocked! Why me? I feel like its such an achievement because I believe we learn from people who are good at what they do be it in the office, or any other environment. I have learned and continue to do so from my mother who is my mentor. For someone to ask me to be theirs is an achievement.
What were your initial difficulties in opening and developingyour brand?
J: This industry is competitive! There are many players in the market and obtaining market share however minimal was hard. For a business to stand out, one must have impeccable aspects like very good quality, quick delivery time and an advantage over the rest. But I believe Mikazi can do all things through Christ who strengthens her. We have learnt from mistakes weve made in the beginning. You know what they say, experience is the best teacher. We are definitely moving forward.
Define your style in four words.
J: My style isnt specific. Am all over the place; classic, traditional, sophisticated, laid back! It depends on the mood am in, I suppose. But comfort is key.
What three things (clothing and accessories) shouldnt miss in a womans closet?
J: A pair of nice comfortable high heels, a pair of jeans (your favourite colour, personally mine is army green!) and a white plain tee. Add some midi rings to accessorize!
What advice would you give to young people who want to approach the world of fashion and create their own line?
J: To all the young people, DO IT! If you have a strong passion for it, dont let go of that, save up, be exactly sure of what, where and how you want your brand to look like, design, produce and showcase it to the world. The sky is the limit!
Find Mikazi on:
- Instagram – @Mikazi_
- Facebook Page – Mikazi Collection
- Twitter – @Mikazi_
- Email – email@example.com
- Telephone (whatsapp) – +256715313899