HAMARO KOMORA SELLING KANGAS / LESSO DESIGN COLLECTION IN NAIROBI
HAMARO KOMORA SELLING KANGAS / LESSO
DESIGN COLLECTION IN NAIROBI
Traditionally, Kangas have been known to communicate messages to the readers whether on love, caution or ridicule.
They are not complete without those ‘Swahili proverbs’, in fact, one wonders what to go for when buying, message, color or design of the patterns in it.
The messages are twisted in a style that holds one’s attention and they are mostly worn by women across East Africa.
Colorful with floral patterns, the garment has diverse usage in the region that tells of the rich heritage and wisdom of the people.
Swahili language and culture describe kanga as a rectangle of pure cotton with a border all around it, printed in bold designs and bright colors. It is a long as the span of your neck to knee, or from breast to toe. Kangas are usually bought and worn as a pair.
According to Kenya National Museums catalog on the exhibition, the garment originated in Zanzibar around 1870, some stylish ladies in Zanzibar got the idea of buying printed kerchiefs in lengths of six; it developed through a century of increased trade in the Indian Ocean region.
Kanga designs have evolved over the years, from simple spots and borders to a huge variety of elaborate patterns of every conceivable motif and color.
The ‘kisutu’ is black, white and red kanga worn by the bride during a marriage ceremony, it’s unique in the fact that it doesn’t have a written inscription.
These are perfect gifts that husbands can give to wives; children to their mother’s newborn babies are usually carried using them.
Kangas have also been used as a bait to mobilize people in campaigns while at the same time attacking or ridiculing the opponent through the messages.
I meet Hamaro Komora in Nairobi at one of the biggest events as she sells this beautiful collection.
Komora born and raised in Mombasa saw the need for selling Kangas in Nairobi because of its high demand.
She started her own Boutique, the Kanga Kulture Kollection which is a Swahili store based in Nairobi.
She started this business at the age of 27years, in the year 2015.
When she thought of starting a business she was looking for uniquely interesting and fun business.
‘I did my research, and found out most businesses operated in Nairobi are boutiques, salons and beauty cosmetics.
When it comes to African attires mostly it was vitenge/Ankara’. She added.
The idea of selling leso/kanga came into her mind. And since she was from the Coast, she took advantage and started selling Swahili products in Nairobi.
Komora has also been indifferent exhibition in Nairobi to sell out her kangas collection designs like the Kilimani Street Festivals, Hairitage Chronicles and Harvest Festival in Limuru.
Adding that the turnout was a great experience she got an opportunity to showcase her kanga collection exchange contacts and made a huge sale that boosted her business.
Through interacting with friends and colleagues, she was able to start her business. ‘They all supported me by being my first clients, I started selling my products to my colleagues at work, then later decided to market and sell online’. She added.
Apart from selling Kangas Komora also sell other Swahili products that included kikoy fabrics, dera, Swahilisandals (mikeka from Tanariver County) beaded baskets, mabuyu kashata, achari, mdalasini and many more.
She later introduced readymade kanga outfits for the people in Nairobi to have the knowledge that Kangas can also be tailored to make an outfit and patched t-shirts.
‘There are unlimited ways to wear the material, while it was traditionally for women it had become a unisex fabric’. She added.
She also participated as a vendor in one of the Hairitage chronicle (nurtured knots) events, the lesso edition, the theme of the day the event was leso and since she was selling readymade leso outfit and fabrics too, some of her outfits were worn by models, during the photoshoot session and she was featured in the standard newspaper.
Still passionate about her business, she grew up interacting with kanga products, she was inspired when she sells Swahili products especially to some clients who didn’t have any knowledge about them, and they end up satisfied and appreciate by her service.
Her Life-changing moment when she started participating as a vendor in most of the exhibitions, her first exhibition was at ICC Church Mombasa Road, a one week conference that involved many countries within Africa.
She got an opportunity to showcase her products, exchange contacts and made huge sales. Up to date she still gets orders from her loyal clients in Ethiopia, who attended the conference.
She learned exhibition is key factor in a business marketing strategy since then I have been attending most of the exhibitions.
‘Believe in your own ideas: - if you have an idea,
sell it with conviction and show others how passionate you are about it’. She rolls out.
Her husband Collins Osewe and my mother Halima Mkamburi inspired her lot. His husband is optimistic and enthusiastic about life. He has always motivated her to grow, showed her how important it is to work hard on everything.
Her mom is a businesswoman who shows passion and drive in her business whether big or small, and she is also a hard-working woman.
They have both been so supportive to her, and encouraged her to never give up on her business.
‘When I shared my business idea of selling Kangas in Nairobi they were so excited, my mum introduced me to her leso suppliers Sianzi Mimi Lld( Mali ya Francis ) and Mali ya Abdalla’.
Komora ‘s mom used to have a general store shop in Likoni back in 1997, later started selling kangas, ‘ I remember every Thursday she used to bring in new stock and by end of the day they were sold out, she used to do tailoring too’.
After her father retired in 2009, they both relocated to Malindi the year 2010. She’s currently doing farming and continues to sell lesso too.
My younger sister runs a jewelry shop in Mombasa, called Lesma Collections.
Her biggest sacrifice was when she decided to be a full-time entrepreneur. Before it used to be her part-time job, ‘I am working on something that I’m passionate about. When you take a bigger risk, there is a chance of a bigger reward ‘she added.
Komora is a journalist by profession, filmmaker and now an entrepreneur.
Born and raised in Mombasa and later moved to Nairobi in the year 2011.
She completed her primary school level in 2002 at Consolata Catholic Primary School, then joined Moi Girls Kadzonzo in form one (1), and later took a transfer to Star of The Sea high school where she completed her secondary school level in 2006.
Graduated in Nov 2010, and moved to Nairobi in search for a job in prominent TV stations hoping to work as a video editor, reporter or writer in the media print department.
Unfortunately shedid not succeed, instead got a chance for an internship in a film company called Level One Communication EA. I worked for 6 months as an intern, and later I got a job in the same company as a camera person, and a video editor.
The experience was good and interesting.