KenyanVibe sat down with fashionpreneur Jeffrey Wilson, the man spearheading ‘Made In Kenya By Kenyans’ movement. Jeffrey’s passion for transforming the Kenyan fashion industry is unmatchable: it’s evident in every conversation, how he packages himself to the kind of events he attends and holds. The man eats, sleeps and breathes making Kenyan fashion better.
Get familiar with him in our convo below:
Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Jeff Wilson, commonly known as JW. I am the creative director of the JW show, under the movement ‘Made In Kenya By Kenyans’. I am involved in Fashion PR, Events Management and Organizing, at the same time a fitness trainer – I specialize in training models on keeping fit. In a nutshell, I’m Fashionprenuer and above all I love God.
What is the most exciting and fulfilling thing about your work?
I get to see other people happy. Everything I do, I make sure my team and my clients are happy.
What was the inspiration behind JW Show?
The inspiration behind JW Show was to bring a sense of belonging and respect to the fashion industry. Many in this industry tend to be viewed as jokers. Yet, the creative industry contributes significantly to the economy; people like Jay Z are changing the world and in Kenya acts such as Eric Omondi are impacting the society greatly. The idea was to bring fashion stakeholders together and help them grow and cut on the unhealthy competition.
When did you first know you wanted to be a fashionpreneur and at what point did you decide to go for it?
I started the JW in 2013 but I joined the fashion industry in 2012 where I started off as a model. I did different shows like the Citizen Fashion Show where I worked with names such as Lucy Rao of Realto Fashions. I did adverts for different brands such as Nivea. I used to go for events and some were not well organized. I also noticed a lot of nasty stuff happening in the industry like manipulation, sexual favors – and I wanted to make a change. I decided to create a platform for models and designers to market themselves and be themselves – an environment that fosters growth.
What’s the best and hardest part about fashion business in Kenya?
The best part is making money and the hardest part is sacrificing the same money. Once you get the money you immediately reinvest it back to create more business. So many shows have died down due to lack of sustainability.
Many people who organize such events are always focused on the immediate result and don’t invest long term. Shows like JW make people aware of Kenyan brands. And the designers that we collaborate with produce quality work. If you produce quality people will buy.
What’s your take on Kenyan fashion, in general?
Fashion in Kenya is now beginning to get the bigger picture. People have started to support local designers. Movements such as JW are contributing to showcasing what Kenyan fashion has to offer. If designers keep giving quality then the Kenyan fashion industry will keep growing. Can you imagine if tailors who are not responsive to delivering on time and quality were trained well, how big our market could be? That’s why JW is mentoring and training. We have partnered with CBIT ( Center for Business Innovation Training ) and we offer training to different institutions.
What makes your training different from what’s being offered in the various fashion institutions?
We are more practical and all-inclusive. Many people come out of fashion school without enough skills but our training is heavy on practicals which is evident when our trainees go out in the market.
JW show is bigger this year, you have partnered with some major brands, tell us about that
Yes, we have done many partnerships and has gotten better over the years. However, we are very keen on who we partner with. We don’t just partner with any brand because we have to maintain the brand’s standards and brands that share the same vision as we do. This year we have partnered with Two Rivers and CBIT for the upcoming event on November 9th. We have also partnered with KRA and KFCB.
How do you settle on the models and designers that you work with?
We hold different auditions and go through strict criteria where we choose people who deliver quality, which is our number one goal. For the models, we hold auditions and aside from the physical appearance we also look at a good character.
If you were to start all over again, what would you do differently?
I do not think I would want to go back. I am really happy where I am now. If I was to go back perhaps I would only go back as a millionaire.
What advise would you give anyone stepping into the fashion world
It’s important to be focused and honest. If you commit to a client, you must deliver and if there is a chance of not delivering make sure to communicate on time. Also, do not be greedy for money and to always pray.
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