Exclusive - Here's How Sustainable Fashion Brand, Suave Kenya Is Changing The Sustainability Narrative In Africa
Creating outfits, accessories, and other items from waste products is a concept that is gaining ground in the fashion industry. In recent times, sustainable and eco-friendly fashion is one aspect of fashion that many entrepreneurs are going into.
Just like the African Creative Hub that produces fashionable and creative accessories from plastic bottle wastes, used car tyres, and many more, and the Bijoux Trendy fashion brand that produces outfits from 100% organic cotton, the Suave Kenya fashion brand is one that uses upcycled materials to create bags.
Story Behind Suave Kenya
Suave Kenya is a fashion and accessory brand from Kenya that uses upcycled materials, ranging from second-hand clothing to leather, and it was founded by Mohammed Awale. The brand which has been in existence for 7 years was birthed when Mohammed was convinced to try his hands at bag making.
"I have always been into starting my own business, and I was influenced by my cousin's leather bag business, so I tried to use second hand clothes to make bags. The reactions I got were amazing, and it made me explore more of that until we found our niche."
The early start of any brand tends to be shaky, and as statistics show, 80% of new startups and businesses fail within the initial 3 years of starting.
Mohammed definitely had his fair share of startups' failure as he had dabbled into several other businesses before Suave Kenya, but they were unsuccessful. However, finding the right passion and funding for a brand is one of the factors that determines if it would stand the test of time.
"The first year for Suave Kenya wasn't as difficult because I was working half the time at my 9-5 job which was supplementing the business. But it got harder once I quit my job to focus on the brand full time", Mohammed said.
Suave Kenya And Sustainability
The ability of a fashion brand to use materials that are environmentally friendly or eco-friendly is known as sustainability, which is the foundation that the Suave Kenya brand was built on. These materials, ranging from items of clothing to excess fabric from export industries, are sourced from one of the largest second-hand markets in East Africa, Gikomba.
The brand used those materials due to the low-cost factor as well as the fact that they wanted to work with traders who had excess items at the market.
"I wasn't really aware of the scale of sustainability, mainly because at that time, it wasn't a big phenomenon in the country, and continent at large." - Mohammad Awale.
How Suave Kenya Is Changing African Communities, And The Sustainability Narrative In Africa
Apart from the fact that making use of waste products to produce bag packs is beneficial to the community, Suave Kenya works with market traders and in-house trained individuals in the production line, to contribute positively to the community. As Mohammed mentioned in the interview, "We strive to start with the individual who later is a big part of a community."
Having a global brand that is Africa-based is indeed possible, and this is what Mohammed Awale hopes to achieve in the long term with Suave Kenya. In Mohammed's words, "From Kenya To The World."
Regarding sustainability, the more people are aware of the adverse impacts of fast fashion in the world, the sooner we, as a people, can change it. As Mohammed mentioned, "The statistics are alarming". So, at Suave Kenya, they aim to change how people view upcycled fashion by showing people how good they look, and the impact it has on helping the environment.
"Sustainability is going to be bigger in the future as everyone turns to look at more ways to reduce their carbon footprint. We need it to be a collective effort." - Mohammed Awale.
We love what the Suave Kenya brand is doing, and we hope that the future of sustainability in Africa is a guaranteed one.