Connect with us

Fashion

Beads on the Runway – Epica Jewellery by Sharon Wendo

Being a stylist is something I always admired, and I never thought of ever pursuing it career-wise, because of the perception we always had that one cannot make enough money to earn a living as a creative.

Published

on

Beads on the Runway - Epica Jewellery by Sharon Wendo Asante Afrika
Furaha Neckpiece - Epica Jewellery
13 / 100

Beads on the Runway - Epica Jewellery by Sharon Wendo Asante Afrika
Sharon Wendo donning the Wendo Thread Choker

Never did she think she would one day be owning her very own successful business; but four years after taking up a beading course, our October cover feature, designer, stylist and entrepreneur, Miss Sharon Wendo, is now a household name who dresses and styles famous celebrities and models on Kenya’s fashion runways. Read on to find out how she started her now famous brand.

Beads on the Runway - Epica Jewellery by Sharon Wendo Asante Afrika
Kipepeo Epaulette with Mask

Tell us about your journey to becoming the Founder, CEO and Creative Director of Epica Jewellery (Epic African Jewellery). You only started jewellery and accessory making about four years ago, and decided to do it as an income generating venture almost two years ago now. What were you doing before that and what inspired your decision to start jewellery making? Were you always a creative person?

I was on a government program called Kenya Youth Empowerment Project, where we were essentially being taught about life skills, entrepreneurship and financial literacy; and at the end of the program we went for a 3 months’ internship in our respective sectors. I actually learned some beading skills during that internship. Initially when I started, it wasn’t something that I wanted to pursue, because after the internship I got a job as a school receptionist, and that is when I knew that that was not the direction I wanted for myself. I resigned after 3 months, and decided I was going to pursue jewellery designing, which is something I fell in love with in time. I have always been a creative person, and even when I was young I had always wanted to be a stylist. Being a stylist is something I always admired, and I never thought of ever pursuing it career-wise, because of the perception we always had that one cannot make enough money to earn a living as a creative.

Who is Epica Jewellery made for? Can you describe the type of client you had in mind when you started this brand?

My brand is for women who want unique statement pieces. They love fashion and they are looking to feel even more confident, with statement pieces that tell the African story.

Beads on the Runway - Epica Jewellery by Sharon Wendo Asante Afrika
Pepea Cape

Can you describe the growth process of the brand? Has it been easy and how have you managed to overcome the obstacles met along the way?

The growth process has not been easy at all. I have no formal business training so even when I started, I did it because of passion.I did not know anything about running a business, and my beading skills were quite basic at that time. What really helped me, is my hunger to learn business-wise, and working hard to improve my skills. I did make a lot of mistakes along the way as I was learning on the job, but I also got to make a lot of changes along the way and improve on the way i did things.

You work from your home in Nairobi. Did you start off as a one-woman team and as your business is growing steadily, do you still make the jewellery and accessories by yourself or do you now have people assisting you?

Yes, I did start the business by myself. I was alone for quite a while, but eventually, I added one more person to assist me. I am hoping that as the business continues to grow, I will be able to add more people to my team.

Every creative designer has a message or a statement behind the pieces that they make. What is your favourite piece from the ones you have made thus far, and what was the statement that you wanted it to make?

My favourite is the Furaha neckpiece with feathers. I love this piece because I got to incorporate feathers in my collection, which is something I had really wanted to do for a long time. The piece is also very trendy, yet contemporary at the same time.

Beads on the Runway - Epica Jewellery by Sharon Wendo Asante Afrika
Furaha Neckpiece with feathers

Africa is filled with extraordinary talent and there are so many gifted jewellery and accessory makers out there. What makes your products ‘Epic’, and what sets them apart from the rest?

Just like my brand name suggests, my pieces are very bold and authentic. I am very inspired by different African cultures and our vibrant colours, so I merge both the African cultures and modern fashion to create authentic pieces. 

What are your biggest achievements in the fashion industry thus far?

I’ve had the privilege to work with the biggest stylists in Kenya, which has been so great for my brand and I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with amazing fashion brands. I am mostly proud of recently becoming part of the British Council Creative DNA program. I also got to be part of a panel discussion for London Fashion Week,  talking about my brand with UK based Fashion Scout, which is a leading international consultancy and platform for empowering and showcasing the future of fashion.

Your products are sold through your online store. How is that business model working for you in Africa? What are the pros and cons of running an online business in Africa that you have noted?

I am so grateful for the online platform and it has worked great for my business, mainly because I get to reach a lot of people from all over the world. Instagram has been great too, as I get many customers from that platform. I initially struggled to position myself in the online space, because I had not figured out who my customer was. So basically, I was marketing to the wrong people, and it was quite frustrating because I was not making any sales. With time though, and as I learned the business, I got to learn what worked and what didn’t work.

Being an entrepreneur is very demanding. How do you manage to balance your personal life and work, so that one does not encroach into the other?

Honestly speaking, this is a very big challenge, especially considering that we are a small brand which has a small team. I always try to designate some time for myself, because the last thing I want, is to burn out!

Beading is a time-intensive craft and it teaches one to be extremely meticulous when working. What other values has your craft and entrepreneurship in general taught you?  

The one thing I have definitely learnt is patience. It takes about 3 – 5 days to finish only one body piece. I was not always a patient person, but beading takes a lot of time, and this is something I had to learn with time. Perfecting the craft takes a lot of time. I have also learnt the importance of consistency; as I run my business, I have realised that the main reason why clients trust us, is because our product quality is consistent, and so is our customer service.

Beads on the Runway - Epica Jewellery by Sharon Wendo Asante Afrika
Jasiri Long Skirt and Pepea Cape

Young Africans almost always have to work extra hard to achieve their goals. Do you have any words of encouragement for an upcoming creative who is also trying to build a successful brand?

My main advice is to never give up, even during those low times, because we all experienced some self-doubt at some point, but we kept on moving. You also have to be consistent and trustworthy; this is the best way for clients to trust you and to recommend you to other people, and that is mostly how small brands grow.

Beads on the Runway - Epica Jewellery by Sharon Wendo Asante Afrika
Tausi Masterpiece

Connect with Sharon on Instagram and Facebook, @epicajewellery, and through her website epicajewellery.com

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fashion

Sandra Awino Odino – Talks About Being a Model & Entrepreneur in Kenya

From frequenting Kenya’s high-fashion runways, interior designing and owning her own hair extensions brand, professional model and entrepreneur, Sandra Awino Odino, tells us about her journey to becoming the power house that she is.

Published

on

By

Sandra Awino Odino - Talks About Being a Model & Entrepreneur in Kenya Asante Afrika
Sandra Awino Odino
15 / 100

From frequenting Kenya’s high-fashion runways, interior designing and owning her own hair extensions brand, professional model and entrepreneur, Sandra Awino Odino, tells us about her journey to becoming the power house that she is.  

Sandra Awino Odino - Talks About Being a Model & Entrepreneur in Kenya Asante Afrika
Sandra Awino Odino

Tell us about your journey in the modelling industry. When did you decide you want to be a model and how did you manage to break into the industry?

I started modelling when i was in high school and after high school i got scouted, trained and signed to a modelling agency. Afterwards, I went for A LOT of auditions and finally booked my first runway show which was an international show and the rest is history.

What do you enjoy most about being a model?

I enjoy dressing up, taking pictures, walking down different runways, traveling, meeting new people and bringing a designer’s idea to life.

Sandra Awino Odino - Talks About Being a Model & Entrepreneur in Kenya Asante Afrika

What are the highlights of your career? What big events have you taken part in and which designers in Kenya have you worked with?

I got to work for African Fashion Fair , Swahili Fashion Week, The AngelsHair Show, Kenya Fashion Week, The Wedding Fair by Kempinski, Afro Hair Show, and The Blue Economy Fashion Show, where I got to meet the President of Kenya and other dignitaries from around the world. I have worked with some of the best designers such as Chela Seurei, Sally Karago, Lucy Rao, Peggy Onyango, Shenu Hooda, Sharon Wendo of Epica Jewellery, Neema Nkatha, Idah Aluoch, Aisha Rotich, and Loise Adhiambo, just to name a few.

What are the challenges faced in the modelling industry in Kenya and what do you think can/should be done to improve on those?

Some of the challenges I face in the modelling industry are that the pay is not so good, or sometimes we don’t get paid at all, scarcity of the jobs etc. I think the modelling agencies should protect models by getting them legitimate jobs which would extremely help the models to become financially independent. Agencies should also stand up for models and fight for their rights.

I also wish that international agencies would do more recruitment of Kenyan models, because the talent here is abundant. Most of us want to go international, but breaking through that glass ceiling is very tough. It would be really great if more international agencies came to scout in Kenya.

You also work as an interior designer. Tell us more about that. When and how did you get into that industry? What kind of services/products do you provide?

Yes I work also as an interior designer and it has always been my passion to beautify spaces and transform houses into homes. I studied interior Design at El Interior Designers and afterwards I started practicing it. The services i provide are soft furnishings, consulting, wallpaper installation and upholstery.

Apart from being a model and interior designer, you also own your own brand of hair extensions. Can you tell us how that came to be and what inspired your decision to start selling your own hair extensions? Do you produce them or do you have a supplier? Who is your target market?

Yes my hair extension line is called Rubellite Extensions and I have had the idea for almost a year now. I decided to take a leap of faith and I did it. What inspired the idea of my hairline is that I wanted women to look great. Hence, if you are called for an impromptu event, you can simply lay your hair clip-on of my extension and you are good to go. I have a supplier who provides me with the extensions and my target market is ladies who are 18-60 years old.

Sandra Awino Odino - Talks About Being a Model & Entrepreneur in Kenya Asante Afrika
Rubellite Hair Extensions
Sandra Awino Odino - Talks About Being a Model & Entrepreneur in Kenya Asante Afrika
Rubellite Hair Extensions Campaign

In April this year you embarked on an extraordinary project which was photographically documenting how black women are normally not used by big companies in Kenya when advertising cosmetics. Can you tell us more about that project and did it achieve the desired results?

For some time I noticed that various companies in Kenya were using only white models on their billboards, and so I called some of my friends and we came up with a mood board. We then did a photoshoot which we wanted people of colour to relate to, and the outcome was OUTSTANDING. Unfortunately we did not get the results we were hoping for because soon after, the pandemic had hit the country hard and there was a total lockdown. So we have had such a hard time pitching our idea to the targeted companies. It was an exciting experience though, and I learnt so much from it.

You are an enterprising woman. What drives you and motivates you to be so entrepreneurial and how do you balance your business ventures and your personal life?

My drive and motivation comes from my mother; she is an amazing role model and she inspires and encourages me to not stop until I achieve all my dreams. My family is very supportive of what I do so it makes it easier for me to balance my business and personal life.

Sandra Awino Odino - Talks About Being a Model & Entrepreneur in Kenya Asante Afrika

What are your parting words for the young African upcoming model and entrepreneur?

Put God first! If you can’t stop talking about it, don’t stop working for it. Believe in yourself and NEVER give up.

Follow Sandra on IG @lasandrah254 and @rubellite_extensions

Image Credits

👗: @afrovazidesignhouse; 📷 @afrikanfilmstudio, jkiragu; Jewellery 💍: @Frankartscreations; 💄: Mutisya H, Sharon Atieno, mdeizimakeup; Hair: @rickykish

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

Continue Reading

Lifestyle

Brown Skin Girl

I’m here to share with you some of my hacks to good skin, while saving your pocket from drowning in expenses!

Published

on

By

Brown Skin Girl Asante Afrika
Brown Skin Girl
19 / 100

4 Home Hacks to Good Skin

Joyliz Njenga

You’ve read the title and I know what you are probably thinking, and NO! These aren’t the lyrics to the Queen’s hit song. This, sis, is the cheat sheet to your perfect African skin.

We all know how our millennial influencers post their morning and night time skin routines; chanting “serums” this, and “tone with” that. To be quite honest, I weep silently while I watch, because I wouldn’t know where to get the products, and to hit the nail on the head, how would I even be able to afford the Fenty Beauty 3 set kit for your skin?

Enough of the gloom… let’s get to the glam. I’m here to share with you some of my hacks to good skin, while saving your pocket from drowning in expenses! Imagine that… a perfect natural glow, with no name dropping. Just you, and, your happy poreless skin so!

So, let’s get to it!

  • Brown sugar

Brown Sugar is one of the best exfoliators for the skin. The crystals help to remove dead skin, dirt, and excess oil left on the skin. Brown sugar is not abrasive and is good on sensitive skin. Using brown sugar, you can easily make your own homemade scrub. In your kitchen, just take 2 teaspoons of olive oil and half a lemon. Create your own sandy scrub and see how your brown skin turns into brown sugar just by using it 2 to 3 times a week.

Brown Skin Girl Asante Afrika
Brown Sugar
  • Baking soda, I got baking soda!!

You hear them speak about ‘Toners’. Well, here I am to give you the best affordable toner you have ever heard of – Baking Soda. This kitchen ingredient can be used to lighten the skin. Get me clear, I said ‘Lighten’ NOTBleach’. This ingredient corrects tone impurities on the skin gradually, and gives you a uniform skin tone. All you need is a tablespoon of baking soda and half a lemon. Create a paste twice a week and see wonders being worked.

Brown Skin Girl Asante Afrika
Baking Soda
  • Ms. Potato head

Potatoes are not only delicious, but they can also be used to correct dark circles under your eyes. No need to pound on the concealer if you have nothing to conceal. Just take a small potato, grate that yummy sucker while it’s raw, and apply under your eyes. You can use this method as often as you like, until you get the results that you want. 

Brown Skin Girl Asante Afrika
Grated Potatoes
  • Moisturise!

We have gone through scrubs and toners, now it’s time to moisturise, and its back to the kitchen. Olive oil is an essential asset. It is high in vitamin E, it is an antioxidant, and an anti-aging agent. Now tell me, who needs a serum? If you do apply makeup, this is also perfect. Olive oil can also be used to lift all the makeup off your skin.

Brown Skin Girl Asante Afrika
Virgin Olive Oil

I hope I have been of help. Go ahead and try these hacks, you won’t regret it!

In Frame 🖼 IG @karsiee.e
📸 Shot by IG @justshootitnana

Continue Reading

Lifestyle

Hello Spring – An Optical Illusion by Renée Seckel

Spring is about how everything literally comes to life in Spring; there’s more energy, more colour, and the glow on everything is just amazing. Fashion is bold and colourful, free and beautiful. Makeup is dewy and vibrant, while the air feels alive as the first shoots of life come forth. 

Published

on

By

10 / 100

Despite a one week delay, spring is finally here and we’re ever so excited! Here to remind the world of the beauty of spring is our cover feature, Renée Seckel, a professional make-up artist who specialises in optical illusions but also does regular fashion and bridal makeup.

Anyone who has ever met Renée will tell you just what an amazing and talented artist she is, beautiful both inside and out. She is a passionate, driven, creative and goal-oriented person with the energy of a 16 year old. She is a mother and a wife, and family means everything to her. When she’s not doing makeup, Renee loves singing at her church and she absolutely loves cooking and baking too.

To say that Renée nailed her “Hello Spring” exhibition is a complete understatement. 

Tell us more about the inspiration behind “Hello Spring”.

The inspiration behind “Hello Spring” is about how everything literally comes to life in Spring; there’s more energy, more colour, and the glow on everything is just amazing. Fashion is bold and colourful, free and beautiful. Makeup is dewy and vibrant, while the air feels alive as the first shoots of life come forth. 

What fascinates you about this line of work? 

I absolutely love creativity and thinking out of the box when I create different makeup looks, especially optical illusion work and special effects. 

Which two season makeup trends interest you the most?

I love the lower-liner trend and the red smoky eye. 

How do you stay abreast with the latest beauty trends?

I keep learning. We never stop learning, no matter how old you are. I make sure I go onto social media and follow other makeup artists and allow myself to draw from them too. 

“…everything literally comes to life in Spring; there’s more energy, more colour, and the glow on everything is just amazing.”

Should we be on the lookout for beauty trends from you?

Most definitely! I recently launched my ‘Lashes by Renée Seckel’, so I’m excited to grow my brand.

Do you have any advice for upcoming makeup artists?

Never allow the negative opinions of people to shift your focus, keep your eye on the goal and allow that negativity to grow you. People’s opinions will always be their opinions and they are entitled to them and you cannot change that, but don’t respond to their call of negativity or allow it to alter your walk… straighten your back and keep walking!

Hello Spring - An Optical Illusion by Renée Seckel Asante Afrika
Hello Spring - An Optical Illusion by Renée Seckel Asante Afrika
Hello Spring - An Optical Illusion by Renée Seckel Asante Afrika
Renée Seckel

Interviewed by Bubbles Mlangeni

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020. Powered by @dubecreative and @zenanitech