Kate Mayeye is a Kenyan fashion designer and the CEO of African Fabric & Designs Kenya Ltd. Kate is inspired by her love for unique African prints and, in particular, the Nigerian fashion industry. Recently, she had the rare chance of styling an award-winning Nigerian actress, Angela Okorie for three high profile, red carpet events. Kate shares with SLA her love for fashion, the opportunities it provides and how she is introducing a different fashion culture to Kenya.
Why African Fabric & Designs Kenya Ltd?
I love to stand out, and showcasing Africa’s unique culture has given me that opportunity. I am looking to place the African print on the world map. It would gladen my heart to see other people, not just Africans, embrace it.
Why are you drawn to the Nigerian fashion industry and how did you come across it?
I am married to a Nigerian. My husband and I love the impeccable finishing on designs made by Nigerians. I also wanted to introduce a different fashion culture in Kenya, and Nigeria has been the perfect reference as she is at the forefront of the African fashion market. Nigerians are the ‘who’ to watch for when it comes to fashion styles and trends in Africa.
How did you get the chance to dress Angela Okorie? Were there any challenges?
Angela Okorie was in Kenya a few months ago. The occasion was the pre-production of a dramatic comedy starring her, Mike Ezuruonye, Huddah Monroe and Mumbi Maina among others.
Former Miss Kenya 2014, now actress and producer, Juliet Ochieng had approached me concerning the Nigeria-Kenya collaborated movie titled Brother Jekwe. I was the costume designer for the movie which Juliet also co-produced, my job was to provide outfits and accessories to support the narrative.
The biggest challenge in dressing Angela was her busy filming schedules. Our fittings sessions were practically non-existent but I’m glad things turned out great.
What would you say to a fashion designer whose dream is to dress celebrities?
In dealing with celebrities, be cautious. Focus on what they want, but make suggestions on what best fits. Be sure to communicate what you can or can’t do. Simply, be honest.
What do you look out for in selecting fabrics?
When selecting a fabric, I look out for the uniqueness of the print, the thread count, colour-fast quality and the strength of the fabric. I don’t condone shrinkage or fading when it concerns my fabric.
If you were on a deserted island and could only take one piece of clothing, what would it be?
Well, let’s see. I would definitely take a Dera. It’s multipurpose.
What challenges have you encountered in your business?
Perfecting customer order has always been a challenge, especially when you have to depend on hired hands. But we learn and grow daily with every experience. The biggest challenge remains power blackouts. Traffic, courier clearance bottlenecks, and of course unforeseen circumstances are also issues we’ve had to deal with.
What advice will you give to young African women looking to start a business?
Every business owner requires a huge passion, commitment, and a strong support system. Be your own motivator, some days are going to be tougher than others but you can do it. With God on your side, it can only get better.
2 year plan? Tell us about it
I’m working on business expansion, opening up more outlets to showcase our amazing designs. These designs would feature locally produced prints and materials that represent the different African cultures.
What other projects are you involved with besides African Fabric and designs limited?
I am a partner with an events and social media management company, DiMaye Media and also a one-third partner in a supplies and Maintenance firm- Tatu Dallas Supplies and Maintenance Ltd.
Which celebrity did you love designing for?
Every client is a star in my eyes. They are my celebrities.
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