The first time i met Wilkings Fadhili my friend had dragged me to a poetry event.My job was to take pictures and videos of her and watch if she throws her hands while she strutted at the front hosting the event .friendship is a calling*pun*
Fadhili, who was the days guest speaker was wearing this round shaped cap that could possibly double up as an umbrella.
He was talking about “Fashion Torch Africa ” an agency he was running whose vision was to grow fashion brands into viable businesses.
The presentation reminded me of my already forgotten dreams of modelling.
Of that one time I travelled to Thika and paid for an advertisement shoot that I never saw photos of.Of the many auditions I’d lined up at only to end up with the conclusion that the industry was just for the chosen few.
Unlike some of us whose ultimate modelling dream was to be in an advert or magazine.
Fadhili even got to travel to South Africa as a Kenyan representative.An experience that made him reseal that much more could be done for the Kenyan Fashion Industry.
Through out your years in social media you’ve probably received a message from an unknown person.Some utterly obscene from crazy perverts .Others that start with a ‘hi’ and others that you choose to ignore because the amount of con people you’ve met in your life have made you super suspicious.
So one day you get an message online ,first thing is the name looks foreign ,second,the person is asking you to send an email to someone else telling them what you do as an entrepreneur.First reaction is you ignore but this person just keeps on persisting.
So you think its suspicious but it doesn’t end there because he gets infuriated by your action.Out of curiosity and seeing that you have nothing to loose you just send the email.
Only for the best thing to happen:you get an opportunity to win a grant to improve your company.
You’re pretty much absorbing the turn out of events when you get a call ,TrueCaller, shows the President’s name .Of course you laugh at the thought of the genius who might have come up with the idea .Your experience with funny people claiming to send you M-pesa has taught you caution but you decide to pick the call possibly out of curiosity.
You’ve only seen people being called by presidents in movies.But they forgot to show that when you receive such calls asking you to meet him you don’t even sleep. You don’t want to wake up and find your suit became a size smaller or that you never woke up at all.
Those are just to name but a few the kind of luck Fadhili has experienced so far.
But what exactly is Fashion Torch?
Fashion Torch is an Incubation Hub that conducts training and mentorship programs for anyone who wants to start a fashion or creative business.At the hub they’re given access to training, mentorship, funding, PR, Marketing and Media coverage
What inspired you to begin Fashion Torch?
The idea of Fashion Torch Africa came as a result of the need to grow the industry to another level that could grow fashion brands into viable businesses.I felt the models needed good management and the designers needed good strategic presentations.Through my experience as a model I also felt the gap led by lack of good management and that inspired me to do more in the industry than just modelling.
How was your experience as a model?
My experience as a model was awesome .Thank God for Ajuma Nasenyana who was my manager then doing shows and adverts .it was fun and gave me an opportunity to network and understand the industry .I modelled for three years.
Tell us abit more about your background?
I grew up in Kakamega through most of my schooling years .I would have done my University studies in the same area but Luckily I ended up at Daystar University.
Getting an opportunity to live somewhere other than my home town for a first time .
I was a rugby player then .I ended up in modelling when i attended a fashion forum in campus and managed to answer a question from one of the visiting panel which secured me a spot as a mentee .
Have you ever worked anywhere else that’s not a fashion environment?
I studied Mass Communication and PR from Daystar University, so after my studies I got a job in a local media company as a journalist and news reporter.I only worked for four months and later on I developed an interest in Creative entrepreneurship.
Any collaborations fashion torch has made so far with individuals or organizations in regards to improving the program?
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, The London Belle and many more.
With very many young people turning to fashion design not forgetting the slow progress in embracing locally tailored clothes.how is fashion hub preparing the mentees in regards to the matter?
One of the key things we help the mentees with ,is how to create a well structured business module for their brands, by doing this we create an entrepreneurial mentality that works on solving any problems in the designing industry
What is fashion torch doing differently to improve the modelling industry?
We have started a program called MORE THAN JUST A MODEL this program equips models with added skills to be brands and start their own businesses in the fashion industry other than just modelling.
From your own experience as a model and participant in the fashion industry any word of advice for aspiring fashion-prenuers? .
Always create your own vision, then work around it on how it can add impact not just to the industry but the society as well.
What are the two main challenges that you’ve faced so far when beginning fashion hub?
There was a challenge in people believing in the concept but with patience things will start falling in place.Second challenge was funding but right now its not really a big challenge but we still need those funds to help the program get better.
The space to accommodate more mentees is the challenge we are currently facing .
We have so many people who want to join the hub but we need a much bigger space or building that can accommodate upto 50 people.
How can someone join the hub?
The easiest way is have people write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org