One on one interview with Fatumah Asha, Uganda’s fashion guru

After attending a number of high notch fashion events, behind the scenes to every good design and utter creative pieces there is a name tagged to it. Engaging with many people in the industry a common name is always mentioned. Out of cat killing curiosity and of course F.O.M.O (fear of missing out). I embark on a quest to find out who is this guru? My mind paced, pondering a starting point. I comb through my contacts up and down, down and up and voila (read vwalaaaaa!) Lady luck smiled at me, a friend gives me the address and the mission commences. An appointment was set.

I arrive and was ushered into the waiting area. The room is large and spacy. Totally out of the common designer stereo types. The walls are pale yellow a bright chandelier illuminates the room and creates a cozy feel. The carpet is wool .A bevy is chit charting in the corner while cutting cloth, an Arab girl is ironing pieces of cloth on the floor. A group of white girls are sited in a queue waiting to fit into their dresses. In the corner is a lady, her head bent on to the sewing machine with the accuracy of a neurosurgeon, she stitches away. Her name is Fatuma Asha! After her work we roll on to our interview read on;

So when did you start out and where did you derive the passion?

In 2004 I studied fine art at Makerere University but majored in fashion. Since I was little I had a passion for design I hand stitched and redesigned all my dolls clothes she smiles. I would also buy big clothes and hand stitch and reduce them myself.

What type of clothes do you design?

I basically do bridal, red carpet and casual outfits. I do not do traditional and corporate.

But why?

Truth, I find them boring. I like to be creative .Its hard in those fields.

You are a big name in the fashion industry have you worked with any celebrity before?

So many! I really can’t mention all, but I have worked with mostly artists and socialites. Forgive me for bragging but most of the dresses on red carpet events in Uganda are my work.

So what is trending in the fashion industry today?

For bridal and casual the off shoulder gowns are so in! And oh flared pants are also back.

What sets you apart from other designers?

My finishing, fitting and cutting.  No one cuts like I do. I make clothes to fit body type .I like being very creative. I draw my own designs I rarely copy. Trend setting I can say.

So what have you achieved from the trade?

I have gotten to work with and know very many important and ‘big names’ in Uganda. I have gotten international exposure, like I have made dresses for tourists who keep on making orders even when not in the country and yes I deliver! She smiles.

I have also managed to live a comfortable lifestyle off the trade. I do not have much but I have managed to pay school fees for many of my relatives. Generally, I can’t complain. We both laugh away.

I have also moved to a better place from sharing a small space with five people plus I can now afford my own space.

Any Challenges?

Oh yes! Many, she chuckles. First the expectations. Many people expect a lot yet their budgets are small. Someone picks a design from a magazine and they expect me to reproduce that which isn’t easy. In most cases the materials used are so expensive and not even in Uganda so people get disappointed when you can’t meet their expectations at their prices.

Also fabric, Uganda has limited fabric some designs need specific fabric when the worst comes to the worst I import, which is very expensive.

Then people taking credit for your already done work, we invest in photo shoots, models and the best photographers then people just use your pictures to market their own brands that’s not nice.

So what advice to you give to budding fashion designers?

There’s no formula to success. Do not follow rules be creative do not do the ordinary. Do not compete, be patient the problem is that these designers start today and think they can do what emporio Milano can do. Perfection is never rushed .It takes time and patience.

Last but not least the customer is the boss treat and maintain all your client swell.

Where does one find you?

At Aponye mall, block B shop number GF06 Facebook- Fatumah Asha, instagram- Fatumahasha email fatumaasha@gmail.com .

Below are some pieces of her art,

 

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