For many fashion conscious buyers in Africa, there is nothing quite like the experience of having a piece of clothing tailor-made by a professional with an eye for both design and detail. Joselyne Umutoniwase, founder of Rwanda Clothing Home Ltd, is an entrepreneur who understands this need only too well, and has created a successful business providing custom-made clothes to discerning buyers who want the personal creative touch.
LoA had the opportunity to find out more about this talented fashionpreneur currently exciting the Rwandan fashion scene.
What does your company do?
We are a fashion company, Rwanda Clothing, based in Rwanda, producing unique fashion items and custom-made outfits which we sell in our own shop here in Kigali.
"I wanted to have something different - of course, custom-made clothes are not something new in Rwanda - we have all grown up using that type of service, but I felt there was something missing."
What inspired you to start your company?
I wanted to have something different - of course, custom-made clothes are not something new in Rwanda - we have all grown up using that type of service, but I felt there was something missing. The custom-made service combined with innovative design ideas was very rare, so I started wondering if there was a way to make a change. I got the chance to visit Europe and I took the opportunity to do my research there, visiting small shops which were providing the same service I wanted to offer, so I came back home and started Rwanda Clothing. I started the business very small initially because I wanted to see it growing with me.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
Why? I think it is very simple - we offer the best custom-made service which means that clients have the chance to work with us and create something unique that is tailor made just for them. Today, besides being the best tailoring place in town with so much expertise, we also have the best custom-made service. We make you feel the difference and when you purchase one outfit at Rwanda Clothing, you never look back - it becomes something that is part of your everyday life. Something you love to do. Creating great things.
"The custom-made service combined with innovative design ideas was very rare, so I started wondering if there was a way to make a change."
Tell us a little about your team
I have a team of 16 people now - we have 10 tailors and the rest consists of the management team. We work closely with each other and we really work as a big team, from the initial design idea to the last details of the outfit. We get huge satisfaction when our clients are happy with the creations we both helped to create - us in partnership with our clients.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I was raised in a family of six children and my dad has been always an entreprenuer - Ithink I got my entrepreneurial spirit from him. But he grow up during a hard time, so his company was not as successful - however, he really managed to keep it up for many years. So I really learned a lot from both his mistakes and his successes.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
I want my company to keep growing. We are planning to launch a fashion school if possible this coming year. And of course, we want to keep improving our service and learn more and more as we go, maybe even offering haute couture outfit design and production services in the coming years.
"Today, we offer the best custom-made service which means that clients have the chance to work with us and create something unique that is tailor-made just for them."
"We make you feel the difference and when you purchase one outfit at Rwanda Clothing, you never look back - it becomes something that is part of your everyday life."
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
What really motivates me is to see our customers happy and enjoying the services we offer. Some of them leave our shop wearing their new outfits and this really touches my heart - there is nothing quites like these feelings.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
The biggest advice I can give to a start up is " just be yourself" and do things the way you planned before. Of course you will get lots of advice, but take what you think fits best with your own idea - nothing else. Keep positive people close to you.
Contact or follow Rwanda Clothing
Why LoA loves it….
One of the current global trends gaining traction, particularly amongst discerning fashion buyers, is the desire to know the makers and crafters producing the clothing that ends up on the racks and shelves of fashion boutiques and stores around the world. There is a growing interest in knowing more about the people making, designing and crafting the clothes we wear and the impact those purchases make on those people’s lives. Joselyne Umutoniwase is a fashionpreneur with a clear understanding of and passion for the art of custom-made tailoring, the creation of bespoke clothing that has a clear provenance and an appreciation for those who make each unique item. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and CEO of Lionesses of Africa