We’re Giving Back: The Search for Talent
Over time NFM has learnt to respect and appreciate hardworking artists, entrepreneurs and designers who are starting up. We’ve had a few success stories we can be proud of and we’ve seen designers coming from nowhere, to being right on top of the fashion industry in Kenya. Weddings, awards and functions are increasingly seeing women dressed up in Kenyan designer clothing. This is fantastic. They are actually sustaining their income…and it began at NFM.
The hub of the fashion culture is exposed as fusion of international fashion and African fashion and sometimes blending the two together. There are of course some great initiatives coming from the disadvantaged communities in the slums. We all know that most of the exquisite pieces of jewellery and crafts are actually made in these areas. There’s a pool of talent and creativity. However there are some groups that work to sustain their families and communities rather than the do all the hard work for little pay for the top exorbitant designers.
Victorious Bone Craft
One such group is the Victorious Bone Craft Group in Kibera slums…I was surprised to see a couple of backpacker tourists taking the tours of Kibera and paying them a visit…one has to get there by foot, cross the railway, dodge a few rubbish heaps and there you are. I was introduced to the Secretary Jack, by Estelle ,a fascinating lady working closely with Kenya Social Ventures. The group creates jewellery and accessories from cow/camel bone and horn. It’s hard to sit there and watch without wearing a mask over your nose otherwise you will continuously inhale the fine bone dust in the air. The bones are chiseled into beautiful shapes and sizes, dyed in different colors and used to make beautiful pieces of jewellery. Then Okinyi, the bone crafter/jeweller threads the pieces together.
They rely almost entirely on their visitors. Thanks to groups like Kenya Social Ventures, who are aiding them to develop their business, we’ll probably get to see more of them in the future. It was great to be there. NFM is well known for working with developing artists and designers and giving them the platform to grow their businesses and test the market. So we were naturally compelled to invite them for the next Fashion Market.
Kariobangi Womens Promotion Training Institute
This institute is run by the Comboni Sisters who relied on generous donations to run the institute. It’s a great place where young women between 25 and 35 from the nearby slums in Kariobangi and Kayole get the chance to learn a course and thereafter get employed in organizations and institutions in the country. There are three areas of learning: Dressmaking, Hairdressing and Beauty and Catering.
The Dressmaking school drew us to invite them to the event last year. It was a pleasure having them. The girls learn how to sketch, design, cut and stitch. They are also perfect in the art of tie and dye and dye fabrics to create gorgeous shawls, scarfs, t-shirts and dresses. They also dye hand woven cottons and wool and stitch ponchos and sweaters. They have also gone into fired clay beaded jewellery, sandals and bags. They have a little duka, where the proceeds actually cover 70% of their costs and staff salaries.
We are truly happy to be working with these groups and will continue to partner with such groups to benefit from our platform. This is our way of giving back. Come and see these two groups at the VIII edition in November 15th& 16th 2014.