Last year, on my birthday, I was in Nairobi, Kenya.
I met a woman there named Rupy, she has a business sewing clothes out of her home. I had an idea for a one size fits most wrap skirt using the incredible fabrics you can find only in Africa.
This is how much of the clothing is designed and made there. It is very common to have a seamstress that will sew for you any design you can imagine with fabric that you pick out yourself.
Consequently, the everyday fashion on the street, in the markets, even walking along the side of the road in the outside villages, can be breathtaking. The bright vibrant colors against a monotone landscape of red dirt clay and dust is inspiring for sure.
Rupy sketched in a notebook while I talked and laughed when I wanted to film her.
Since then, she has made almost 40 skirts for me.
This is the most fun business partnership! She sends me photos of fabrics she can get ( they are usually one time only) and I tell her the ones I like. Then I wire the money to her (sending money to Africa on your phone is scary and cool), she sews the skirts and sends them to me.
In these interactions, I've learned that Rupy was born in Nairobi, the 6th of 7 children. She grew up in Luanda, western Kenya, and believes strongly in God.
The design has been tweaked here and there and now the skirts have a pocket on the right side and a matching child sized option!
This one is my absolute favorite. Sometimes the fact that the fabrics are one time only can be sad, but then there's always another favorite in the next batch!
Rupy had magazines to look through for inspiration and some pieces she had already made for other clients.
I'm thinking of having her try some dresses similar to this one for next season... What do you think?