Hello everyone, we took a break from our blog but now we are back better than ever 🙂 We are starting a new interview series on our blog, where we learn about the designers and entrepreneurs behind the fashion we love.
We are truly excited to kick of this series with a wonderful brand Kinabuti. Kinabuti is an ethical fashion label out to empower women and youths in Nigeria and Africa. It was founded in Nigeria in 2010 by Caterina Bortolussi and Francesca Rosset. The Kinabuti brand is refreshing, distinct and afro urban as it combines creativity of exquisite African textile with Italian designs.
We interviewed Kinabuti co – founder Caterina and asked her 10 questions. Without further ado, here is our interview, we hope you enjoy it 🙂
LZ = Lara + Zuri
KB = Kinabuti
LZ : Where did the idea of Kinabuti come from? Please walk us through on your journey from Italy to Nigeria ?
KB : I am from a small village called Spilimbergo in Italy with about 300 people in the countryside just behind the hills and surrounded by cornfields. My parents are farmers and so were their parents. We had simple life surrounded by nature, with strong values and a place where we could play freely. After I graduated I moved to London where I worked in an investment bank and in a shipping company as buyer broker but I wanted more out of life. I wanted to travel round the world to find and feel a sense of freedom that I never had in London. I was doing a job I was not enjoying and I was not feeling London and my life there anymore. And here all of a sudden, the opportunity to travel and work came to me and it brought me to Nigeria. I worked on advertising, communications, events as well as organizing two international film festivals in Nigeria. Designing clothes was my dream, my way to express my creativity and myself. That’s why in 2010 we started Kinabuti.
LZ : When you think about Kinabuti, what are you most proud of and why ?
KB : I love the social mission that Kinabuti has in promoting entrepreneurship amongst women and youth in Nigeria and Africa
LZ : Kinabuti is a Partnership. What has been your experience so far? Do you have any advice on how to select a good business partner?
KB : I started this business with my childhood friend, Francesca. She is very loyal, trustworthy and we are very complementary in our skills. I cover more the creative side, she is involved more in production. I believe that these qualities are key to establish a healthy and good partnership.
LZ : Kinabuti is based in Nigeria and you both are Italian. What has been your experience doing business in Nigeria? Any peculiar benefits or challenges – please share?
KB : Main challenges are lack of consistent supply of electricity, lack of roads, a lot of red tape and when it comes to the Business of fashion: lack of distribution, lack of a real supply chain and inconsistent production quality which makes it very challenging to produce in Nigeria but it creates opportunities to create models that can serve and support the present framework in the development of micro entrepreneurship.
LZ : Kinabuti has been in existence for 12 years – Congratulations! If you were to go back in time and advice your younger self on how to make Kinabuti successful, what 3 tips would you give yourself?
1) Money talks. When you are living your dream you tend to forget of the financial aspect of it and hope that through hard work and passion things will eventually work out… but numbers remain numbers .
2) Listen to feedback ALWAYS, it is the only way to learn.
3) Remember that there are no ERRORS or FAILURES but just a learning curve.
LZ : What motivates you?
KB : I love working with the youths, creating models and structures that can truly empower and develop entrepreneurship.
Nothing makes us more happy than seeing our people doing well in life through their business and good values.
LZ : What do you do on a daily basis to grow as an entrepreneur?
KB : Read a lot, listen to podcast and exchange ideas with people I respect.
LZ : I know Kinabuti will be moving towards a new direction soon, Can you please share with us what to expect?
KB : We have decided to stop our clothing line and to focus mainly in developing Kinabuti as a social enterprise that promotes youth and women entrepreneurship in Africa. We have gathered a lot of knowledge in these 12 years and we want to use all that we know and our skills to really serve the development micro enterprises in Africa. Micro enterprises are the base of any economy and they foster sustainable economic growth.
BASED ON THIS DATA: Africa has the youngest world population + 200milion between the age of 15 and 24 (60% of the population) and each year an extra 13 million young Africans enter the labor market. Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa with 180 million inhabitants. 92.2 million internet users (51%) mainly accessed by mobile 81%. Active social media users 18million with a 20% growth from 2016. Fashion, entertainment and technology are the sectors youths are most passionate about. Lagos is African capital of movie industry (Nollywood), fashion, music and entertainment
- Promote opportunities within the fashion, entertainment & digital sector
- Vocational & entrepreneurship trainings, access to information job opportunities
- Become a point of reference connecting talents to established industry players
- Channeling innate talents into value and income generation sustainability
LZ : What do you love most about Nigeria? Can you please share 3 of your favorite things to do while in Nigeria?
KB : In Nigeria you will make amazing friends, I really have not seen that kind of bonds and love in many other place.
Nigeria has an incredible art and music scene from live concerts, to art exhibition to Theatre plays (you will always find something to do)
Nigeria heritage, traveling around – it is worth it to discover the Ancient tradition and festivals.
LZ : Thank you very much for your insights and time. Is there anything else you would like to add to this interview for our readers.
KB : DARE2DREAM
Thank you very much Caterina for taking time to answer our questions. We love Kinabuti fashion, sad to learn you will stop producing clothes but excited about your new chapter focused on women and youth empowerment. We are routing for your success and know you will make great impact.
Lastly we are excited to announce that Kinabuti and Lara + Zuri partnered together to give Lara + Zuri readers a discount on selected items on their website. Trust us you don’t want to miss out on these sales, and own the last clothing pieces from Kinabuti. We already have a few Kinabuti pieces in our closet 🙂 Simply shop on the website https://kinabuti.com/ and use discount code “ LZKB“. Shop away and let us know what you got by tagging us on instagram @lara.zuri and use “#LZKB” on your pictures.
To learn more about Kinabuti, please watch the video below, follow them on instagram @kinabuti and check out their website www.kinabuti.com.
Lara + Zuri