Four years ago, 29-year-old Kimberley Masimbe stepped out into the fashion industry with her chic Afrocentric vintage clothing line, House of Kiki.M. She started out running her business in a room in her parents’ house. Kim still recalls that the room was filled with inspirational pictures, fabrics, and a little table where she did her drawings. Glenda Makumbe, our SLA contributor caught up with Kim as she talks about House of Kiki.M and her passion for wearable designs.
Tell us a little about yourself, Kim
I was born and raised in Zimbabwe where I attended a multicultural school. I was blessed with being able to travel a lot at an early age and that significantly helped me grow personally and shaped who I am.
I am very fashion conscious and I can say that has informed my kind of designs. I never design something I cannot wear myself. And oh… I love and collect hats too.
Soon after college, I was going through a phase of self-doubt but one thing was certain —I wanted to create my own fashion statements and design wearable clothes. I used to sell second-hand clothes (bale) at Avondale flea market here in Harare. I would revamp the clothes by adding a personal touch to them.
However, House of Kiki.M started after I won a young designer’s competition. My friends’ sister organized a fashion week in 2012 but because I couldn’t afford the entry fee, she asked that I enter for the young designer’s competition. We had to produce five garments and though it was my first time designing something, I won.
I had been drawing and doing a few sketches so I had an idea of what I wanted to do. I have always been good at drawing and it runs in the family. My mum was a seamstress and my aunt was a poet so creativity does run in my bloodline.
How would you describe your designs?
Vintage…yes, vintage is the word.
I love things from the past. I love giving things a different twist through beadings and attention to intricate details.
What inspires your designs?
I try not to follow current trends as I am inspired by the people who came before me. Brands from way back like Coco Chanel do it for me.
What is your typical business day like?
No gainsaying, my typical day is filled with appointments and fittings.
How has your educational background helped you in managing your business?
I did a course on media and communications and that has been helpful. But I’m looking at doing a fashion and design course at the Harare polytechnic.
I have always been good at drawing as I come from a generation of artists. I never realized it until much later.
What’s exciting about Zim fashion at the moment?
I’m excited by the different fashion hubs opening up, the new designers trying to break barriers and the desire to promote Zimbabwean fashion.
What are the challenges of running your own business as a young woman in Zimbabwe?
Some people don’t take you seriously, especially if you don’t hang out with the creme de la creme of the society.
Recently though, people have tried finding out my achievements and what I am currently up to.
How do you keep yourself grounded?
I try to stay true to myself, stay close to family and really value relationships.
What would you tell a young woman wanting to start a business in a difficult economy like ours?
Go for it.
Know exactly what you want, then get a mentor to help you make the process easier. And never give up on your dreams.
Lastly, what should we expect from House of Kiki.M in the next five years?
I would like to have my brand in some of the local and regional department stores like Edgar’s (regional), Barbour’s (national) and boutiques in other cities.
Eventually, I’d love to branch out to other Southern African countries. Having my designs on runways is the ultimate dream and I’m working towards it.
Also, I look forward to branching into other areas like interior design and natural-based cosmetics.
*If you are in Harare be sure to catch Kim Masimbe on the 3rd of September.
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