Developing a distinctive fashion brand which celebrates African fabric and inspiration with contemporary design that reflects the uniqueness of Rwanda, is what makes ONYX as a brand stand out in the marketplace. Founder Carine-Zoe Umutoni has a passion for her country which is only matched by her talent for creating must-wear garments which the fashion conscious want to own.
LoA had the pleasure this month of learning more about the talented young fashionpreneur, Carine-Zoe Umutoni, and her ambitions for the wonderful Onyx brand.
What does your company do?
Onyx is a fashion brand in Rwanda. We design garments.
"Starting my own business has always been my dream since I was 12 years old."
What inspired you to start your company?
After spending eight years in South Africa, I decided to come back home and start my own company and contribute to my society. Rwanda is promoting young women entrepreneurs to take over and I believe this is our time as Africans to own successful businesses. It's time for Africa!
Why should anyone use your service or product?
At Onyx, our designs are both unique and simple.
"Rwanda is promoting young women entrepreneurs to take over and I believe this is our time as Africans to own successful businesses."
Tell us a little about your team
We are a small team of only 5-10 people. and these women know much more than I know. I learn from them from time to time, and we love each other and support each other. These women went through the genocide and are very brave to rise and make a contribution to the Rwandan society today. This makes me smile every day.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
Starting my own business has always been my dream since I was 12 years old. But because of my parents who are both highly educated, I was sceptical all the time about knowing if an entrepreneurial journey was the right thing to embark upon. It's been a journey of not knowing what to expect. I knew hardships were part of it. Not having access to finances was an obstacle. But I guess my attitude has always been positive, to know that with God all things are possible. So, I decided to believe in what I do as my contribution to this world. Exercising our gifts is the best thing that any human being can experience. What an amazing journey it has been so far, and still unfolding because I still have a long journey to take, with bigger dreams to be realised along the way.
"I would like my company to be known as the most successful of all time, not only in sales but in having employed and changed people's lives all around the world."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
I would like to own a factory in Rwanda and be able to sell worldwide. I would like my company to be known as the most successful of all time, not only in sales but in having employed and changed people's lives all around the world. I want people to wear my garments and feel good in them, more like an experience of a lifetime.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
Waking up in the morning with a feeling to make it. You know it's more like an interesting game. You play well, you win. I love it. Unexpected results always comes as a surprise, always.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Knowing your purpose is key as it brings satisfaction to the soul. Do your purpose ladies and shine. This is our time. Nobody can believe in you if you do not believe in yourself. Believing in you is the first step. Be your number one Fan. Arise against all the odds and do it. Arise and indeed arise.
Why LoA loves it….
It is always wonderful to see young women entrepreneurs who have a passion for being in business, and particularly those who have a similarly strong passion for creativity. Carine-Zoe Umutoni is one such entrepreneur. Her brand has a strong and unique identity, as do her clothing collections, which celebrate beautiful African fabrics infused with cutting edge tailoring and real personality. This is a proudly Rwandan fashion label to watch. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and CEO of Lionesses of Africa