One of the major keys to success is to keep moving forward passionately and determinedly, on the path of our dreams whether it be rocky or smooth knowing that it can’t get better, any other way.
Kemi kalikawe always knew what path her destiny had carved for her, it was clear that she was cut out for something huge and unconventional. As a child, in Tanzania, Kemi had pictures of what she imagined would become her future. She had dreams of working in the design industry and totally revamping the system.
But for reasons, she may not readily tell, she found herself studying marketing in England. But the detour wasn’t for long before Kemi realized herself and took a turn in the direction of her dreams; she relocated to Kenya and began her study in interior design.
Interestingly, that small step in the right direction became the biggest step of her life.
“The school that I was going to also had fashion design. I ended up wanting to find ways of promoting fashion designers and so I put on a show for them,” she explains. “When I came back to Tanzania, I worked with the British Council… and my job was to find underground fashion talent and put them on the stage. That’s how I ended up making my own dresses… and the people that would come to the show loved my clothes.”
From interior designing, Kemi progressed to fashion, forming Naledi Fashion House (Naledi meaning star in Setswana) in the heart of Tanzania, in February 2008; an establishment that has now grown to become an amazing behemoth and a one stop shop for all.
And like “Naledi”, Kemi became a sparkling point of attraction, drawing her inspiration from exceptional forms of design and creativity.
She delightfully expresses her passion, making the most out of the most ordinary fabrics,
“Sometimes I see a fabric and it just speaks to me,” she says. “So I take that and start thinking of what I can do to bring out its beauty.”
But beyond creating exclusive designs and top class finishings, kemi is deeply passionate about mentoring and enabling the youth discover their calling and also helping young and upcoming designers become more effective in their careers – for her, that remains the best perk of her profession.
“I choose to include other designers because there isn’t particularly a space where designers can showcase their work, she says, It’s expensive to open your own store. So this was something that gave me that chance to promote other designers plus sell my own things.”
Naledi has played a pivotal role in growing Tanzania’s fashion industry and has worked with several organizations like British Council for 2 years in its program WaPI Arts festival, all the way, seeking and mentoring young talents.
It has also worked with Goethe Institut organizing the first Fashion Round Table Discussion, bringing together designers, retail business owners, fashion journalists/media and industry stakeholders like Basata, Cosota and local celebrities.
At some point, Naledi worked with Alliance Française, organizing a unique fashion show, combining fashion, traditional drum music, dancing choreographed models and young acrobats and also with Tanzania House of Talent (THT) to open the first fashion school in Tanzania.
About her brand, the vintage designer declares:
“My brand is Africa revamped,” she says. “Africa getting a modern twist and just bringing the West and Africa together and marrying them into something beautiful.”
Great idea, yielding mind blowing results.
Keep the light shining Kemi, all the way………………
© 2014, Lovelyn Okafor. All rights reserved.