The popular Kabalagala based Club Venom was this August set ablaze by a couple of 18 year olds whose ambition goes far beyond their years. It was the Barika Fashion House fashion show. I had a sit down with one of the brains behind the brand and here is what you didn’t know.
Erika Biingi is an 18 year old Ugandan lady who has only just completed her A-Level education at Greensteds International School in Nakuru, Kenya. She had her primary and the rest of her secondary education at Green Hill Academy here in Uganda. Her love affair with fashion started years ago when during her holidays, her mother would let her spend time at her aunt’s home. “My aunt is a tailor,” she intimates with a smile, “she would make us do little things, this and that.”
She however did not start out making clothes. Erika and a friend turned business partner, started out making jewellery for friends and family in 2011.During her A-Level, the school had a talent show and they entered their jewellery. “All our pieces were sold out! That kind of inspired me.” She says. And with the savings from their jewellery sales, the two friends ventured into the wonderful world of textiles.
Her aunt may be a tailor but the skill is not hereditary as for now, Erika along with her partner employ a tailor to bring their sketches to life. She however intends to learn how to sew because someone else can’t have the exact idea of what she intends an outfit to be and she often has to monitor her tailor’s progress.
It turns out that the recently concluded fashion show at Club venom “started as a joke”. She brought it up to an events planner friend of hers in conversation and he ran with it. “He started telling people and planning…” and it all fell into place. He basically waved his events planning magic wand and voilà. It was no easy feat though because they had been planning since June for the 8th August 2013 fashion show. “We planned till the last minute,” she laughs, “there are things that were not ready even that morning! It was a lot, next time I will plan like a year earlier.” All the hard work must have paid off because she smiles in thought for a moment.
Like any young business, there are a few limitations here and there. Barika fashion house has gotten some good offers but the demand sometimes outweighs the supply of their growing business. “But we can’t keep cancelling opportunities because we need them.” she shares. On where she gets her materials, some of the fabric is imported from china and some is locally purchased.
Barika Fashion House aims to make clothes that are comfortable, stand out and represent someone’s personality. “We wouldn’t want something to wear you; we’d want you to wear something.” Their look is of a sophisticated, mature and educated woman. We share a laugh as I ask about whether uneducated women dress a certain way and I am told that, “Even if you are uneducated, you should look educated.” (Side bar) The reverse can be true; food for thought, no?
So far their customers are mainly friends and family. “Friends are always there.” she smiles. I pry about what she sees for the brand in the next five years and she shares her hopes for it to be international with branches allover East Africa. You might want to keep your eyes peeled because these two ladies are not just mesmerized by beautiful fabric; they have a business plan in place. Their offices are located in Kabalagala opposite Jack and Jill nursery school and if the trip proves a little tedious, you can check out their Facebook page; Barika Fashion House. Even with both of them possibly enrolling in overseas universities, Barika Fashion House is one to watch.
Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the images highlighting the Barika Fashion show. Photography by Photo4Fashion