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Mentorship and Tutorials

5 tips for success from established Kenyan designers (Part II)

This is our second collection of tips and tricks of the trade from the designers we love.
5 tips for success from established Kenyan designers (Part II)

We received a lot of positive feedback on our first collection of useful tips from the bright stars in the Kenyan fashion scene as well as a number of requests to continue sharing wisdom from those trailblazers. We are happy to oblige, especially since all the designers we are talking to are very generous with sharing their experience and good advice. So, here are five more observations from our recent interviews with creative business owners:

  1. They are their own clients – Most of our creatives started their business because they needed or wanted something that was not available at the time. In other words, they experienced a gap in the market, and started a business with the goal of closing this gap. The brilliance of such an approach is that they know exactly who their “target audience” are – i.e., people like them – what they like and dislike, what price they are willing to pay, etc. In short, they know how to attract first-time visitors to their business and then convert them into life-time clients.
  2. They have a mission, which is about improving the world around them – Every successful creative we’ve talked to has a set of values that define how they run their business. They want to take care of the planet, give back to their communities, save forests, create jobs, etc. The importance of these values is that they help to define the identity of a business, i.e., an operating framework, which allows creatives select the right partners (suppliers, distributors and clients) and inputs for their businesses as well as set boundaries and say “no” when partners/inputs are misaligned with their mission and values. No business, a creative business included, can be all things to all people – the mission and values help a business stay focused.
  3. They welcome feedback, and the more negative the better – Every time we interview a successful creative, we hear some version of, “Tell me honestly, what do you think about my work.” We all know that creative people are very sensitive, and very protective of their work. But they are also passionate about being the best at what they do and creating the best product there could be. Hence, they see negative feedback as an opportunity to find new ways to improve. To them, returned products and negative reviews are not failures but rather steps towards success.
  4. They are generous with their time and ideas – We are always amazed at how open successful creatives are about sharing details of their businesses, entering collaborations, and mentoring aspiring designers. They are the epitome of confidence in their abilities and choices – they are confident they can choose the right partners to push their ideas beyond what they can do alone, but they also know that if anything goes wrong – they will come up with new and better ideas to remain on top.
  5. They are keeping it real – With successful designers, the confidence we mentioned above does not translate into arrogance. In fact, the more successful a designer the more humble and approachable he/she is. They never let their head get too high into the clouds because they know that arrogance is the enemy of all things creative.

And this is our second check list! We hope you found our tips useful. And if you want to share your experience as a creative or add to our list – reach out via Facebook or Instagram.