Capital Campus had the opportunity to sit down with Wilkins Fadhili to know more about Fashion Torch Africa an incubation hub whose vision is to grow fashion brands into viable businesses.
CC: Tell us a bit more about yourself.
WF: I spent most of my life in Kakamega. I only got an opportunity to live somewhere other than my hometown for the first time when I enrolled at Daystar University.
CC: How was life in campus?
WF: At Daystar I studied Mass Communication and Public Relations.During my free time I rugby, I ended up in modelling when I attended a fashion forum at campus.The guest speaker asked a question which I answered thus getting me a spot as a mentee in the industry.
CC: How was your experience as a male model?
WF: I modelled for three years.It was fun and gave me an opportunity to network and understand the industry.Ajuma Nasenyana who was my manager got me a number of shows and adverts.I also represented Kenya in South Africa as a model.That experience made me realise much more could be done for the Kenyan fashion industry.
CC: Have you ever worked anywhere else other than a fashion environment?
WF: After my studies I got a job in a local media company as a journalist and news reporter. I only worked for four months, later developing an interest in creative entrepreneurship.
CC : So what is Fashion Torch?
WF: It’s an incubation hub that conducts training and mentorship programs for anyone who wants to start a fashion or creative business.At the hub you’re given access to training, mentorship, funding, PR, marketing, and media coverage.
CC: What inspired you to begin Fashion Torch?
FW: From my experience in the industry I felt there was a gap because of lack of good management.From the models to the designers who need good strategic presentations.Thus I felt the need to do more than just modelling in the industry.
CC: What is Fashion Torch doing differently to improve the modeling industry?
WF: We have started a program called “More Than Just A Model” this program equips models with added skills to brand themselves and start their own businesses in the fashion industry other than just modeling.
CC: With very many young people turning to fashion design viser ve the slow progress in embracing locally tailored clothes, how is fashion hub preparing the mentees?
WF: We coach the mentees on how to create a well-structured business module for their brands.Thus creating an entrepreneurial mentality that works on solving any problems in the designing industry.
CC: Any collaborations Fashion Torch has made so far with individuals or organisations in regards to improving the program?
WF: Yes we have made a number of collaborations with 1608 Creative our official US partners, Kenya Airways, Business Daily Africa, Afrivazi, Atelier De Ray, Blaze Kenya, Zenred, Ojwa Styling Company and The London Belle.
CC: What are the two main challenges that you’ve faced so far when beginning Fashion Hub?
WF: First was people believing in the concept.Secondly, was the problem of getting funding but right now it is not really a big challenge though we still need those funds.
CC: About that, you did get a grant worth 16.5 million, it would be encouraging to tell us how?
WF: Well, I got an inbox on Facebook requesting me to write an email about what we do at Fashion Torch. Of course it was peculiar but I went ahead and did it.That’s how I got an opportunity to pitch to 1608 creatives.
CC: What other opportunities have come your way through Fashion Torch?
WF: I have had the opportunity of meeting the President. Aside from that I have been a speaker at The Blaze summit and The GES summit that was held in Nairobi.
CC: You met the President, how did that happen?
WF : He called me (haha).It was sometime after getting the grant from 1608 Creative. I happened to get a phone call from an unknown number. Trucaller showed the President’s name but of course, it’s hard to believe it. Anyway, I went ahead to pick it and it was actually him. That’s how I got an invite to State House.
CC: Well, that’s not something we hear often .So how can anyone join Fashion Torch Incubation Hub?
WF: The easiest way is to us at [email protected]
This article was written by Capital Campus Correspondent Evon Mercy Vala.