APiF:Please introduce your business and your designs.
Anne Mpinga: Kipusa is a term in Swahili that means “beautiful young lady”. My designs are fresh, chic and fun. Kipusa is a label that aims to drape a woman’s curves flawlessly. My style has been heavily influenced by great African women such as Lira, a musician from South Africa, whose style is simply sophisticated. I would love to put my clothes on her any day.
APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
Anne: After being part of the organizing team for the first annual Hub of Africa Fashion Week in Addis Ababa, I left feeling like it was time for me to do something about my talents. I didn’t want to be the person inviting international African designers to showcase their collection on the catwalk. I wanted to be the international African designer invited to showcase her collection.
I have always had a passion for fashion, and it was only a matter of time before I quit my job in the communications field to pursue my dreams. I started designing with prints, because I have always loved bold colors. I like the extra pizzazz that printed fabrics can add to an otherwise dull item in one’s closet. I have turned so many of my outfits around and the results are always wonderful. Kipusa was official born in March 2011 when I came out with my first collection. A second collection is in the works.
APiF: How do u feel about the new African Prints trend? Is it here to stay?
Anne: African prints have always been a hot trend, it has just taken the world a long time to discover this. I have been walking around in beautiful printed clothes for as long as I could remember and then voila, a famous designer uses this fabric and all of a sudden it is a must have trend. I believe the trend of using prints is here to stay, as long as the designers adhere to the changing trends and don’t become redundant.
APiF: What inspires u?
Anne: Love, friends, color, passion, art, my mom, curvy silhouettes, music….
APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
Anne: My absolute favorite in my first collection is this 70’s inspired flared jumpsuit. Most women used to complain that because they are curvy, they can’t wear jumpsuits. I created this design to prove them wrong.
APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
Anne: I have been working on an online store that will be up and running in the next few weeks so my designs will be accessible. I have also partnered with two websites, one in the U.K and another in the U.S to make sure that people can access my designs abroad. I would be more than happy to have my collection picked up by a buyer out there, so all this is in the works.
APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Anne: I would say do your research and do it well. Always stay on top of your game and do not overlook any detail of your work. Clients are sensitive and every time your client puts on your outfit, you want to hear WOW! Also, love what you do and do what you love, and the success will come.