written by Roberto Di Bella and Margherita Alinovi, 4th September 2019
In December of 2017 during our first trip to Kenya, we went to visit Jukumu Letu, an organization that offers affordable education to children living in the slums of Nairobi. The uniqueness of the project, absent within the majority of school or similar projects within the country, is the special care taken towards ensuring the wellness of the socio-economic aspects of the child’s life. They provide opportunities of counseling for children and families who have been emotionally and physically abused, they safeguard and protect children from dangerous situations and empower parents and the community members as a whole by offering them job opportunities. As Jukumu Letu is purely relying on private funds, the organization does not have a stable income to allow the school to run operations smoothly. Since then, as it is a project that is very close to our hearts, we have been thriving to find a sustainable solution to try and help them. We finally came up with our idea.
As two friends that love to travel, we have always been fascinated by the colors, patterns and the various materials found in the different countries that we have visited. In our opinion, textiles define the identity of a country through the story and the message that they contain. Our dream would be to share the way we perceive the world during our travels with a line of t-shirts made out of the different textiles and materials that we collect and believe are the most representative of each country. Moreover, we would like to give a social meaning to these t-shirts by devoting the revenues of the products to a charity of our choice within each country.
The easiest country for us to start was Kenya as Margherita grew up there and still has strong connection within the country. With the amazing opportunity to be able to return, we explored the feasibility of the realization of our project. Within the first few days of our stay, we were able to meet with Anne Mcreath, a famous designer within the world of fashion both locally and internationally. Anne was able to give us an insight into how the fashion industry works in Kenya, and therefore the tips and tricks as well as the possible complications that need to be taken into consideration. After additionally receiving feedback on our project, we decided that it was the case to meet with Kikobo Leisure Wear, one of the most famous fabric producers in Nairobi. Through the owner, Sabine, we were able to receive an idea of the costs of production of t-shirts with the possibility of shipping the product directly to Europe. Thanks to the help of Sabine we were also able to meet with Kangarui, a local business that produces and sells t-shirts with a similar concept to ours. Not only we discussed with them the possibility of cooperating in the future, but we were also able to better understand what it would be like to enter this industry through the eyes of experienced entrepreneurs.
Despite the adversities, overall throughout our stay we received a lot of enthusiasm and positive feedback regarding the project that we would like to initiate. We were able to find Sabine, who not only could follow the production but can additionally guarantee a product of quality at a reasonable price. Through Kangarui, we are able to receive support and hopefully a stepping stone into the market. And finally, through Anne and various other iconic figures present in our network, we have been able to find a marketing strategy to expose our brand.
In order for us to begin, the next important step in the realisation of this project will be to find the funds to do a trial production of approximately 100-200 t-shirts, to test the market and be able to gain an understanding of whether or not the product could sell within our target population (18-26-year-old Europeans).
Our trip to Kenya has been truly inspiring, we had the opportunity to meet amazing people and understand the feasibility of our project. We do really hope to proceed with the next step of our project in finding the means to begin funding the project and be able to go on with this amazing opportunity.