A conversation with Co-Founder of HAFW Linda Murithi on the business of Fashion Week -
1. First and foremost, how did you manage to set up your idea in terms of :capital, market, equipment, production, maintenance, workforce.
Linda: The idea for the Hub Africa Fashion Week Started in 2010 with an Ethiopian good friend and now business partner. It was curated when we noticed that within Africa their was a lack of proper networking between the designers, manufacturers and fabric/textile suppliers. All of these major factors play a key role in any established brand. The Capital was right out of our pockets – salary wise which at a point of setting up a business is really little, but I have to say that was the most fun as everything was a challenge and a thrill – It was out of passion. With regards to production, we had a great team of professionals who came on board as advisers and some as partners, so we had a great team behind us which also applies to the maintenance of the Fashion Week. Its important to have great people who believe in your product and want to see it develop and grow.
2. What was your biggest challenge when starting and also currently?
The challenges have always been more on the financial aspect, getting designers, getting a production team and finding the right people who share the same ideologies especially in terms of the fashion week. But that said, the challenges led us to some great designers, models, producers which has carried and built us. The challenges currently are always the learning lessons learnt from the past. Making sure we do not repeat mistakes that have been made – and that it easy, so very challenging.
3.What does it take to put up a fashion week together?
•How do fashion week organizers and sponsors make a profit?
Sponsors is all about visibility. Fashion Week organizers on the other hand is not profitable in the first five years – hence, this has to be something you love. You don’t organize a fashion week just for the sake of it. It can frustrate you if your in it for the money. That’s the truth.
•How do designers benefit?
Designers benefit from meeting with the right industry players. There are always people who can influence your growth that you never would have thought about. SO they get to be in a place where like minded people can help them accomplish Some of their goals that they had set for the future.
4.What role does the media play in fashion weeks…and why have some fashion weeks banned bloggers?
Media are very important for fashion weeks. They allow people to know who is out there and what is trending. We (the people who watch fashion TV, Extra, the Style Network – We watch to see who is wearing what, inspirations and trend forecasting which is important to anyone in the fashion industry. With regards to bloggers being banned, its sad, as they are the taste makers, they have the capabilities of reaching masses and letting them know what is trending in the fashion industry. Am sure with bloggers, they have their own opinions regarding the fashion weeks and may comment negatively if the fashion week did not execute properly, which may not be the organizers intentions – of-course, but may have been part of the challenges, thus some fashion weeks may feel that getting negative feedback could damage their brands.
5.What projects are you currently working on…And also do you see this project propelling many people to better lifestyle.
Am currently working on the third Edition of the Hub of Africa Fashion Week. I do see this fashion week as the one that will set a trend in terms of how we represent the fashion industry -allowing for the right people to have the right platform. It will set a good tone for the African fashion industry. We are trying to play in bigger role in the global arena.
We have a new platform that we are introducing and its about the right people at the right place to make the right business. Fashion is business too, so we need to step up and make sure we are seen. We need our brands to be represented in the right direction.
6. Which countries are you currently working with?
And what challenges do you face in them..
We are working in Ethiopia, which is where the Hub of Africa was created. We have not had any challenges in Ethiopia, we have more so received support from the government, which is something that everyone would need.
7. Who do you currently look upto as an amazing entrepreneur , as a muse…?
I currently look up to Suzie Wokabi of SuzieBeauty , She is definitely living her passion and she is a great example of what can happen if you follow your dreams and engross yourself into what you are passionate about. She is building an empire one day at a time and I love knowing that I have seen her develop her brand from inception to one of the biggest growing African Make-up brands. Its beautiful and inspirational.