We caught up with two beautiful United States International University (USIU) students that know and truly represent what style is. Oshe Clothing is a clothing line established in Nigeria by Anita Ashiru and Anne Okeya in early 2014. Their fashion line revolves around the idiom ‘two sides of the same coin.’ This stems from the philosophy that everyone has two personalities, the western and the African. This is reflected in the items the dynamic duo design.
We talk to Anita Ashiru to find out more about their impressive idea, and how they’ve fared since company’s inception.
So, what motivated you to come up with this idea?
When we joined USIU we realized that people in Kenya don’t really embrace their African culture like Nigeria or West Africa where each person has at least one cultural item that they own. So we thought about how we could bring that African feel and identity into the westernized minds of most Kenyans and the best way we could do this was to blend the two cultures into one item.
Did you think that you would succeed in the fashion industry?
We took a leap of faith because the fashion industry especially in Africa has a lot of competition. It is very risky investing so much money into something you’re not sure but we realised that we had nothing to lose so we went on with it. Fortunately for us, we are doing really well in terms of recognition and sales.
How did you end up in Kenya, and why USIU?
We are Nigerians. I am half Tanzanian and half Nigerian though. My mom, who is Tanzanian, wanted me to learn Swahili at the same time go to University. I also chose USIU because it is a multicultural university and it is a setting I am already used to. As for my partner, she came here because a family friend told her about the school.
And how is the business side of your clothing line?
Initially, our mission wasn’t sales oriented but to simply get awareness and popularity. When we initially made our first batch, we gave them out to our good friends in different social circles together with 5 business cards each. Every time people complimented them, they gave out our cards. We’ve used social media platforms to extend our brand popularity, by posting pictures of models in our clothes. After gaining popularity, we moved on to sales where we surprisingly received more orders than what we expected.
Who is your target market?
It started in USIU, where students ordered face-to-face, and because of the good quality of our products, people started talking about it then through word of mouth and social media people around Nairobi began trusting our products. We hope to eventually move into other cities in Kenya. We know that it will take some time, but we have a plan.
What motivates your creativity?
I know it sounds cliché, but music mostly does the job of motivating our creativity. Sometimes we sit down clueless on what to draw but when we play particular songs, it triggers our memories and then we refine these memories and produce a piece. Other than that, and most importantly, God motivates us. He is our source of energy. Sometimes we don’t feel inspired to work because we sometimes feel that things are moving slowly and we get discouraged. But the assurance that God is the source of our creativity pushes us. Why would he give us talent without plans for it? So we work together with God to push our line.
Is there anyone in the fashion industry that you’ve always looked up to?
As a child, I’ve always wanted to be a designer because I loved dressing people up. I wanted to be just like Chanel because I kept reading about her in my mother’s books. Then in December 2013, I attended the Music meets Runway fashion event and was blown away by Deola Sagoe. She is one designer I aspire to be like. Her creativity is out of this world, she is amazing!
What are your future plans and where do you see your company in three years?
Right now, we are taking it up a notch by partnering with Tosin Obafemi (a former USIU student) who is now based in the United Kingdom. We are moving fully online, where people in Kenya can shop and have their goods delivered. Hopefully, by the grace of God, we will have that up and running soon. In the next 3 years, we hope to have established a couple of physical branches in Kenya, and hopefully have our clothing line featured in movies and fashion shows.