Nancie Mwai is a young woman who's out to revolutionize Kenya's fashion industry. Her fashion blog, The Fashion Notebook, is a journal that includes: her inspiration; on-shoot sneak-peeks and post-shoot results; DIY tips and; much more. I'm currently most enjoying her own fashion adventures, e.g. what to do when you have to unexpectedly stay the night somewhere and are an outfit short – aka the chips funga outfit!
Aside from an entertaining and stylish blog, with recognition far and wide (including being featured on the MTV Style website), I'm excited to share this interview with Nancie because she's demonstrating again the rewards of following your passion. When I was growing up in Kenya, I didn't even know that being a fashion stylist was a career option, let alone being one in Kenya. Pave that way Nancie!
What inspired you to create The Fashion Notebook?
I used to read fashion blogs a lot and I never came across a Kenyan fashion blog. We have loads of potential in our country so I decided to start a blog.
What has been your greatest obstacle/challenge?
My greatest obstacle is when I'm trying to pull clothes together for a fashion shoot and the sellers refuse to give out their clothes. Honestly it's very annoying … . In such an industry, you need to work with people in order to grow and sellers get free advertising for helping me with the clothes.
How have you dealt with/overcome it?
With time, I've learnt not to stress about it. If someone is not willing to work with me, I look for another option. I also try not to take it personally – at the end of the day, it's their loss not mine.
What has your greatest achievement been?
Well, I don't know whether this is an achievement but, I've always wanted to pursue fashion design and my mom refused to hear of it. So I studied International Business Administration. I never thought I'd work in the fashion industry. I never did become a designer but, I'm a stylist and I love my job.
Where will you be in 10 years?
I hoping that in 10 years I'll be an editor of a magazine, or better yet, own a fashion magazine. We need more of those in Kenya.
How does Africa inspire you?
Africa has a lot to offer fashion-wise, especially with designers here and also in the diaspora. The fact that we can now show designs at London Fashion week! Another thing is that other designers get inspired by Africa with the examples of Suno, L.A.M.B. Spring/Summer 2011, Thakoon … the list is endless. One of my favourite designers who has showcased at fashion week is Bunmi Koko – she reminds me so much of Mcqueen with her designs.
Anything else you'd like to share?
People always ask me how I manage to constantly update my blog. It's one thing alone: passion. Whether your day is packed with meeting after meeting, if you have a passion for something, you'll get an hour to dedicate to it.
Anything we should look out for in the coming weeks/months/year?
My graduation in August – that I cant wait for. I have some pending projects which I'm currently working on and if anything comes up I will share it on my blog.
Images courtesy of Nancie Mwai. 2nd image from top: photography by Leon Muli, accessories by JewELLAHry. 3rd image from top: styling by Nancie Mwai, photography by Emukule Ekirapa (more images and full shoot credits here).
Thanks Cynthia for giving me the heads-up about The Fashion Notebook!