APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Ziki Odotte: My brand is Afro Fanatic (AFFA™). It was established in April 2011 as a fashion blog and made its fashion debut in Nairobi on October 2011. It is fast becoming ‘the brand to watch’. AFFA™ designs are predominantly of African-print fabric (Kitenge, Batik, Khanga, etc.).
We initially specialized in women’s apparel but are now slowly exploring the possibilities of a men’s line due to client demands. We are also developing an exciting range of accessories – mostly bags for now. Our designs are extremely edgy, off-beat and expressive. They are created for the hip city dweller who’s not afraid to stand out from the crowd, push the envelope and even show a little skin.
APiF: If your label would be a person, what kind of person would it be?
Ziki: It would be like me: full of life, warm, charming, adventurous, bold, quirky and most of all unrestricted!
APiF: How does your heritage inspire you?
Ziki: It is my constant point of reference. I am inspired not only by the traditional cultures in my country, Kenya, and Africa as a whole, but by the sub-cultures that have come up as we become greater players in the global community – exporting and importing culture. Something very interesting is going on and I like the mix of the old and new. This is what inspires me most and opens up endless creative possibilities in my view.
APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
Ziki: I market my designs online through e-newsletters and social media sites – this way I cross borders with ease. I also use a lot of flyer, posters and text messages (locally in Kenya). All of these however are superseded by word of mouth – a good rep out there is key. In addition, I have also begun attending international fashion shows such as the recently concluded Africa Fashion Week London where I showcased my second collection ‘Fire and Lace’.
I think it is important for every artist to breach the global scene; exposure keeps one’s outlook fresh and interesting both for oneself and for our fans. Readers can place orders online through our catalogue and by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a stop-gap measure as our online store will be launched soon.
APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Ziki: Look for a mentor, someone who’s been there and done that. It may not necessarily be in the field of fashion as there are aspects of business that cut across all sectors. You will probably find yourself making the same mistakes they did, and if they can guide you away from such snares, you’ll get out of the ‘start up’ phase that much faster. Never stop doing your research and looking for ways to improve. When your starting out and as you grow, always remember that fashion is a service industry and that your client is King or Queen, treat them well, do your best to ensure that they always walk away with a smile.