With big smiles and charming personalities to match, Sekayi and Tukiya Fundafunda have a star-like quality about them. Popularly known as Kahyi & Kii, the powerhouse sister-duo are behind Zambia’s hottest fashion blog, MaFashio.
According to the sisters, “MaFashio” is a slang that describes someone who either looks really good —or really strange. In other words, fashion that makes a statement. That is essentially what MaFashio aims to deliver —content that celebrates the uniqueness and strangeness of Zambian fashion and culture, packaged in a way that is fun, inspiring, and accessible. Since bursting onto the scene in 2012, MaFashio has positioned itself as the premier “style house” in Zambia with its one-stop shop approach to fashion solutions, including blogging and styling and creative direction.
Kahyi & Kii have carved out a permanent place for themselves on the fashion and lifestyle scene in Zambia and are well on their way to becoming a successful and well-recognized international fashion brand. The sisters recently opened up to SLA contributor Uloma about their blog, fashion, and some of their favourite things from 2016.
How did MaFashio begin? Where did you find the inspiration to start a fashion blog?
Kahyi: We had a lot of artistic influences growing up —mom made wedding dresses and dad was an artist. As teenagers we dressed very differently from our peers, which wasn’t something that was popular in Zambia at the time. One summer towards the end of our high school years, Kii and I happened to spend a lot of time together, and we discovered just how cool the other [person] was.
As we spent time getting to know each other and observing the people around us, we both simultaneously had this realization that we were encountering a lot of people dressed in really interesting and diverse ways. That was how the idea for MaFashio came about. One day we just decided that we were going to start telling people they looked nice, take their pictures, and create a place where we could post and share these pictures.
At the time we started, we didn’t even know that “fashion blogs” existed. All we knew was that we had found this project that we were really passionate about and we were determined to pursue it as far as we could. We built a simple blog on Blogger put up pictures, then spammed everyone we could think of to direct them to our blog.
One day we got a call from Gareth Bentley, who had somehow caught wind of our site and was impressed by what we were doing. He showed us how other bloggers were doing it and gave us tips on how to make the site appear more professional. From there things sort of took off.
When did you realize that MaFashio had finally broken onto the Zambian fashion scene in a big way?
It was definitely when we got invited to attend and blog at Fashion Week in 2013. It was such a surreal experience, getting the VIP treatment and being introduced to some major players in the Zambian fashion industry.
Being at that event and getting to blog about it definitely put us on the map and opened doors for us. After that, we knew it was time to take MaFashio to the next level and that was when we decided to register the brand as an official entity.We never back down from a challenge and we are motivated to continue improving our skills Click To Tweet
Your story sounds almost like a fairytale. Coming from an artistic background, having a flair for fashion and design, and then starting what was probably the first fashion blog in Zambia at a time when there was no one else in the space.
Were there any parts of this whole process that did not come easy to you?
You’re right, we do have a natural affinity for styling and writing, but the photography and other technical aspects didn’t come easy and took a lot of effort. In fact, we are still learning, but that’s what I love about us.
We never back down from a challenge and the more MaFashio grows, the more motivated we are to continue improving our skills, acquiring new ones, and also asking for help when there is something we can’t do ourselves.
How does the division of labour within MaFashio work?
Kahyi: I have a background in Economics and Finance, so I would say I am the more business-savvy one of the team. I love structure and I enjoy creating systems so I am always looking for avenues to incorporate that into our business.
Kii: I have a background in Law, which has come in quite useful in interpreting the contracts we are presented with. When it comes to MaFashio, while Kahyi focuses more on the planning and organization, I would say I contribute more to creating the content and aesthetics for the site.
In the best of ways, Kahyi is the yin to my yang and we complement each other in a way that is good for the business.
As frontrunners in the fashion blogging industry in Zambia, how have you embraced this role as leaders and mentors? Also, as others come onto the scene, what has it been like dealing with the competition?
Kahyi: Last year we organized an event called Fashion for Brunch and honestly it was a struggle to scrape together 16 bloggers at the time. This year, we hosted the same event again and we had 35 bloggers. We even had trouble picking the 20 we needed for the event!
It has been a pleasure for us to watch this new generation of bloggers come onto the scene, and we don’t necessarily view them as competition because we understand our role. The only yardstick by which we measure our growth and success is ourselves.
Kahyi: I attended a lecture earlier this year where the topic was about learning to “transcend” and I think that has been my mantra this year, professionally and otherwise.
As MaFashio, I see us knowing what our strengths and talents are, and keeping in our own lane but also giving ourselves permission to spill over into other lanes as things change and we find new ways to adapt. I believe there is more than enough space for everyone in this industry to grow.The only yardstick by which we measure our growth and success is ourselves Click To Tweet