Trendsetter, fashion blogger, style maven, it’s impossible to talk about the Kenyan fashion scene without mentioning the name Nancie Mwai. Her blog, the Fashion Notebook can be used a window into the ever changing Kenyan fashion scene and was named Best Fashion Blog in 2012 at the BAKE Awards.
KenyanVibe’s Fashion Editor, Roshie Anne caught up with the taste-maker to talk shop and discuss fashion. Check out the interview:
Roshie Anne: Hey Nancie, I always start by asking this question, describe yourself to our readers.
Nancie Mwai: I’m a twenty something girl who loves fashion, maybe a little obsessed by it. I also love blogging, beauty, and cooking. I love change; I’m always trying new things, from products to hairstyles to trends.
RA: When did you decide to start blogging?
NM: April 2010
RA: How did the Fashion Notebook come about?
NM: I started it three years ago in college. I realized there were no Kenyan fashion bloggers and I loved reading fashion blogs.
RA: Did you always want to be a fashion blogger?
NM: No. I learnt about fashion blogging in 2009 and started my blog in 2010. It was a hobby back then.
RA: Where did you go to school? Did you study anything fashion related?
NM: I went to USIU. I did International Business Administration in Marketing. I have never gone to fashion school. Blogging is more of a hobby that turned into business.
RA: When did your interest in fashion start?
NM: At a really young age I wanted to be a designer, but as a I grew older, I realized I wanted to be a stylist then I discovered blogging and the rest is history.
RA: Describe your style.
NM: Pretty much all over the place, I wear anything as long as it looks good on me…I don’t follow trends.
RA: How has your blog the Fashion Notebook influenced your personal style?
NM: It has helped me be confident and appreciate my personal style and also the personal style of other people. We’re different people hence we all have a different outlook on dressing ourselves. The beauty of fashion is that I will never look exactly the same as the next person even though we’re wearing the same piece because we all have a different sense of style.
RA: You have worked with fashion designers like Wambui Mukenyi. How has that experience been like?
NM: The experience has been great she’s a talented designer, a driven business woman and also a good friend. The working relationship is two way and we build each other’s brands.
RA: Where do you draw your inspiration?
NM: Myself mostly, I always go with my gut and what I want to share with people. I always say try something once before you dismiss it as impossible.
RA: What are trends do you like and which ones don’t you like?
NM: Well I’m not a trend follower but for sure I can say I hate crocs…I know they are not a trend but everyone seems to be wearing them these days!
RA: Being a fashion blogger requires one to network, how has networking helped the growth of your blog?
NM: Networking is key as a blogger, I’ve gotten to meet people in the fashion industry that are doing great things and I’ve also gotten to meet people who are more knowledgeable in web based businesses.
RA: How is the current fashion scene different compared to a few years ago?
NM: It has definitely improved a lot. It’s slow moving but there has been a big change and I feel that it will only get better in the future.
RA: What are your thoughts on the future of African Fashion?
NM: We are headed in the right direction; I’m noticing many designers doing collaborations with big designers in Europe. Also as opposed to years ago, designers are showcasing more of ready to wear. More African bloggers are coming up, more African fashion publications are being done.
RA: What does this mean for you – do you feel pressure to represent not just Kenya but Africa as a whole?
NM: No I don’t. Pressure mostly comes from within me not from without, that keeps me true to myself and my work.
RA: Which fashion designers should people look out for in Kenya?
NM: Wambui Mukenyi, Anil Padia, Itikadi and Jamil Walji.
RA: Which ones would you like to collaborate with?
NM: Anil Padia and Galina Tatarinova
RA: What are some of your future plans?
NM: I really don’t know. I’m one of those people who take a day at a time and let the universe surprise me.
RA: For those who want to start a fashion blog and share their ideas, what would your advice be to them?
NM: JUST DO IT! Do not hesitate, just start the blog and the rest you will build on it and learn as time goes by. I waited a whole year before starting my blog. I gave myself excuses. Also do your research on the niche you’re going to blog about. It doesn’t hurt to have some extra knowledge.
RA: What do you want your legacy to be?
NM: Nancie Mwai was HERE!
For more on Nancie Mwai, check out her blog, Fashion Notebook
Roshie Anne is an up and coming fashion designer living and working in the US. She also has her own fashion blog where she shares her style inspiration and fashion tips.