In the world of colors, it is natural you will be captivated by that striking shade out of myriad. World over, the fashion design industry has for centuries been evolving, and that is not different for Uganda. Out of many inspiring stories of Ugandan fashion designers is a story of this relentless young entrepreneur whose vision starts from high school, writes Raymond Mugabe.
Trading under Saro Fashions, Sharon Namwase discovered her fashion design prowess after she was introduced to clothing and textile classes at Mengo Secondary School in 2006. After completing Senior Six in 2011, the 27-year-old born of Jinja joined Tina School of Fashion where she mastered her craft.
As the saying “when the will is ready, the feet are light” goes, she acquired a sewing machine and started out in 2014 by creating samples of fashion styles from her room at home. She would later exhibit to her prospective customers; and lo, she started selling.
“I don’t think you need to have everything to get started,” she says. “Most times people fail when they have everything on startup.”
The diploma in Fashion and Design holder has found her niche in creating trendy kitenge fashion designs for children and adults, African print crafts and wedding gowns, among other styles. Namwase says she takes on every new challenge with zeal. Her greatest motivation is when customers express their gratitude after receiving their designs.
“Every time I get a ‘thank you’ from my customers, I get motivated,” she says.
Namwase told Good News that she earns between Shs 500,000 and Shs 800,000 a month. This, she adds, may even go higher depending on the season. Because her clientele is growing fast, she expects to expand her wings by opening another branch.
At her current branch in Bukoto, she employs at least one person.
“I have better skills, exposure and tact to handle any business challenge now. I understand and give keen attention to people’s needs and the value of timelines,” says Namwase, as she slits through a piece of cloth with a pair of scissors. “I have started offering training in fashion design to other people as a way of raising more capital to expand my business to other parts of Kampala.”
Being a single woman, the mother of one says she uses part of her earnings to take care of herself, the child and maintain the business.
Having started her business with a vision of growing into a big and reputable fashion house, Namwase’s dream seems to be on the right track because she dedicates her energy, time and resources needed to maintain the business. She has maintained a proper bookkeeping custom and paying all her bills in time.
Like any other business, Saro Fashions faces challenges, with the main one being lack of reasonable capital to ensure sustainably.
“I find serious challenges with some customers especially when I fail to deliver to their expectations. It sometimes becomes daunting when a customer is not satisfied with the design and we have to redo it,” she says, inserting a thread into a needle on her sewing machine. “It may require using more material, and may become time-consuming because we normally have other works on tight deadlines.”
Knowing the fashion industry in Uganda is very competitive, Namwase always researches about current fashion trends from fashion shows, the Internet and media.
“I enjoy spending time in fashion shows and exhibitions to keep me updated with the current fashion styles on the market, meet new people, fashion designers and make sure that I learn something new,” she says.
Intrepid Namwase advises young people to have interest in anything they want to do before they can get started. “Have the interest, work hard, and you will make it,” she opines.