Fashion is fleeting, but style is forever. For Afabri, designs formerly known as Embrace Africa Ankara, this couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a brand that aims to achieve just that. We were able to host a shoot with them at the Alchemist bar in Westlands and I was able to get a few words of what the brand is all about straight from Beverline Ashioya(the founder of the brand).
What is Afabri designs?
Afabri is a fashion brand that aims to incorporate African style and trends to modern brands.The name itself is derived from African Fabrics which are the main tools of trade.
Are you the sole owner?
No, I own it together with my friend Beverlyne. I am in charge of the creative process of the pieces and she is in charge of the design marketing process. From the posters and stuff like that.
So how did you start your business?
At first, it was just for fun. It was after high school and I always had a creative mind and desire to do fashion. I would always imagine pieces of fabric on someone else and I’d try to make them as per how I imagined them. I started with earrings which actually got a good reception. I would sell them to friends and family at affordable rates and after a while I noticed it can actually work.
Did you get any support from friends and family?
My dad has always been supportive. He has always pushed us to go for what we want to pursue in life as long as we are good at it. When I began, I was alone. He gave me some money to buy my first materials and he’d tell people about what I am doing. Some of my friends and family members also bought my stuff and keep checking up on the progress.
What inspired the name?
The name AFabri is new and is an update from the previous one we used called Embrace Africa Ankara. The name is a merger of two words which are African and Fabrics. We felt like name Ankara from the previous one would limit the vision of what our customers expected from us. However, the name is mainly inspired from the fact that our main focal point is the African fabrics. Most of our products will incorporate fabrics like the kanga and the ankara prints but not limited to the same.
Is there a reason you chose to use this specific fabric?
Yes there is. I have allergy to most metallic ornaments. It is for this reason, for a while, as much as I wanted to, I wasn’t able to wear most of the ornaments other ladies had. Therefore , when I began designing the accessories, I figured my main target audience should be people who are allergic to metallic ornaments like me. On the other hand, I am proud of my roots and would like to make a brand that can be identified not only as Kenyan but also African and nothing does tat better than the fabric you use.
What have been some of the challenges you have faced so far?
For starters, capital has been crazy. As much as my dad chipped in here and there, there’s only so much he can do to help. I am a student at the Kenyatta University main campus and I am studying Fashion and design. This is a very intensive course that requires a lot of investment on its own. You find that at times, the business suffers because I have had to buy some school material.
Secondly, when I started school, my time was heavily compressed. This meant that I barely had time to release new pieces on time and at times I have had to cancel orders which affected my credibility.
What about the Kenyan fashion industry? What do you think of it?
It might sound cliche but Kenyans need to support their own. By support i mean they actually buy the products for the prices stated. This will greatly encourage more designers and fashion enthusiasts to carry out the trade.
We also need more fashion centred events that are easily accessible to start ups. This will help create awareness and build an audience for the whole industry. People need to see that the Kenyan designers are really good and their numbers are big too.
On a positive note, I am proud to say the Kenyan fashion scene has matured and is very diverse. Our people are not closed minded. They are ready for anything that’s good looking. People are no longer afraid to stand out and that is very encouraging.
Where can people find you?
We are on Facebook as Afabri Designs.
You can find us on Instagram too under Afabri_designs.
What is your parting shot?
If you believe in it just do it.
To see more of the shoot just click here.
To see the collection from the shoot click here.