We had the opportunity to speak with Seraphina’s amazing founders, Ines and Diane and their journey as a fashion brand in Rwanda
B: When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in design?
Ines: It came up to me when I lived for 3 years in Rwanda; I saw that investing in the Rwandan fashion scene had huge potential. With this assessment I approached Diane to start our own fashion brand because I knew she was following a designer training. It just made sense to me to start a fashion brand because we are both passionate about fashion.
B: Explain the range and versatility to your pieces.
Diane: We are inspired by a mix of Afro-European culture due to our background. The garments in the collections consists of trousers, culottes, blouses, tops, jackets, coats and dresses. The clothes have an African authenticity with an innovative contemporary twist at accessible prices.
B: How long have you been in the business?
We launched our first collection in September 2016, but started conceptualizing the idea of a fashion brand in 2015.
B: If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning this career, what would that be?
Seraphina: Be patient (to take it step by step and not pushing things) and to learn not to pursue all opportunities.
B: How is it like being a fashion designer in Rwanda& how accepted is fashion as a business in your country?
Ines: The Rwandan fashion industry has evolved over the years into a vibrant business sector. There are established brands and non-established brand. It is not hard to start a fashion brand but it is difficult to keep it relevant.
Fashion is not the first thing Rwandan people associate with as business but thanks to the “made-in-Rwanda” campaign promoted by the government “made-in-Rwanda’ products such as apparel are highlighted. This is a big boost to fashion designers or fashion entrepreneurs.
B: What should Africans do differently as a way of supporting the African designers?
Diane: We have to begin trusting ourselves and trust each other. The African youth has a lot of talent, creativity and knowledge to offer.
B: There’s so much pressure for designers to come out with their greatest collection season after season. How do you handle the pressure?
Diane: Yes the pressure is hard. But we see it as a challenge: every time we bring out a collection we want to do better. We also have learned to trust ourselves. Luckily, we are two designers, which gives us an edge. We are also constantly learning and doing research in order to be open in our creative process.
B: Any mistake you made when you were starting out?
Diane: We wanted to grow too fast (we were too impatient) and didn’t take enough time to know all our stakeholders. We didn’t realize the financial impact that this kind of project can have but luckily, we adapted quickly enough.
B: How much do you sell your pieces?
Seraphina: Our pieces are sold between 50 euro and 200 euro. We will also sell limited pieces up to 300 euro.
B: Who do you look up to in the fashion world?
- EDUN due to their sustainability
- BROTHER VELLIES due to their aesthetic
- TONGORO due to their strong visual marketing
- ANDREA IYAMAH due to her fashion forward style
- CUSHNIE due to its style aesthetic and the co-founders’ story
B: What role does social media plays in the fashion industry?
Diane: In 2018, social media has become the fastest way to create brand awareness. We use social media to share our journey with the #seraphinacommunity. We may have a limited number of followers but our community is excited about our fashion brand.
B: What was your biggest fear when going out and starting your own line?
Ines: We didn’t think we would attract a public for our brand and our vision. We were also afraid that people wouldn’t get our mission. People only see the glamorous life of fashion designers and but that’s not always the case… We put a lot of time and thought in our creations and seeing our community grow helps to compensate that fear.
B: Your favorite part about being a designer?
Seraphina: The best part about creating garments is to have people being excited and enthusiastic -as we are- about those garments.” And working on our mission to become a quality fashion brand of fashion forward clothes made in Africa for worldly women is the best motivation.
B: How do you want people to feel when wearing your clothes?
Ines: The clothes of the Seraphina brand represent the independence of women and have a modern attitude with the body-conscious cuts. These clothes are designed and hand made mostly by women. We want our Seraphina costumers to feel and to be fearless: a worldly woman on the move.
B: Any role models
- Solange Knowles who is a force to be recon with in her visual identity and the thought process of heir imagery/music
- Sarah Diouf is an amazing fashion entrepreneur
- Trevor Stuurman is an entrepreneur and multimedia visual artist who always shows celebration of the African continent
But honestly our biggest role models are the women in our lives.
B: Biggest project you’ve ever been privileged to be a part of?
S: We have had the opportunity to participate at the Ethno Fashion Week in Brussels, The Kigali International Fashion Week in Brussels and The Hague.
B: Hardest line you’ve ever had to work on?
Diane: The latest collection called “Unity of opposites” was the hardest line. With this collection we have shown more audacity, which made the execution harder. We started working on this collection in November /December 2016 but had already a vision for it in June/July 2016. And we will start selling this collection in 2019.
B: The vision for your line 10 years down the line?
Ines: We want to have our own production atelier and sell our garments in several retail stores all over the world (starting by Africa of course).
B: What are you fascinated most about at the moment?
S: We are fascinated about how to mix technology and garment production in order to can make unique and modern products. We are also fascinated by the freedom of creativity taking place doing this.
B: What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2019?
S:For the end of 2019 we have 4 goals:
- Launch our web shop
- Organize pop-up shops
- Showcase our 3rd collection
- Retail store(s) in Europe and Africa selling our garments
B: Who would you love to collaborate with in future?
Ines: Never actually thought about this. We would love to work with people who have the same vision and mission as us. Promoting a (new) kind of Africa by showcasing made in Africa products and talents.
You can t reach them through: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow them on Instagram: www.instagram/seraphina.rw