Another throw back blog from 2010
What does it mean to be a fashion designer in Uganda?
I think all of the people I have met here are surprised or confused when I tell them
I am a Fashion Designer in Jinja, Uganda. This makes me happy because I like being
ambiguous. I enjoy people looking at me and not knowing where I am from or what
brought me here. I can’t blame them. If someone came up to me with my features
and my responses I would say the same thing, “What the heck is a half Puerto Rican/
German and Irish, dread headed, fashionista doing outside of New York City?”
My answer to you is saving the world(cue dramatic music). Haha Just kidding. The
truth is that just because you live in New York and work in fashion does not mean
you get to be creative but in Uganda that is a different story.
From orange, brown, yellow bead bags to small pink Mother’s day bags this
house is bustling with creative energy. Everyday I get to peruse thru Vogue, surf
fashiontrendsetter.com, and bead my heart out. Now that’s just in my home.
Outside in Jinja my days are filled with guiding tailors thru the world of pattern
making, teaching women the latest Beyonce inspired necklace and navigating
my way around tailor stalls, trim shops, and fabric bazaar’s. Now that’s just in Jinja.
Out into the real work, Kampala, it is a different ball game. What I love about
Kampala is direct competition! Whatever item you need you can find an area that
has only that. Therefore if you don’t like the price at one stall you just go next door
to the next. First stop is Nasser Road. This area is dedicated to paper and printing.
Any color you want you can have printed here. Imagine a mall filled with only
printing shops. Next stop Old Taxi Park Market. It’s beading time! I love going to
this market because they have every color seed bead you can think of! They also
have wood beads, and glass beads, and seed from tree beads, oh my! Next stop is
to Owino Market. Owino Market is too big and too scary. Watch your feet and
watch your head because you can lose it if you are not careful. This is
where we get our paper. All is second hand and can be found in any weight and
size. Next we go to Kijembe (CHEE-YEM-BEY) Road. Kijembe Road is where all the
sewing takes place. I meet a man named George who helps me locate good scraps
from the tailors. I sort and sneeze (fabric is dusty) through the cloth to try and find
different colors, fabrics, and textures. The journey to Kampala never goes as smooth
as wanted but it always adventurous and full of surprises.
Now I am starting production on our Spring Collection, making samples for our
Summer Collection, and creating trend boards for Fall 2010. Everyday I am still
discovering what is means to be a fashion designer in Uganda. All I can say is I am
having a darn good time figuring it out.