Ladybrille® Fashion Business With . . .Fashion Designer Gloria Wavamunno #Africanfashion

“At the tender age of six Gloria Wavamunno had already developed a deep love for fashion, fabric, and garment construction. Her inspiration has since been limitless and has been drawn from vast subjects like motion, music, and ethos. Born in London and raised in both London and Kampala, Ugandan, Wavamunno was exposed quite early to both western and African influences. Her use of African Kitenge fabric from all over Africa in modern-cut designs captures the passion for her homeland, its vast culture, and wealth of inspiration.

In 2008, she graduated from the American Intercontinental University in London and interned with  renowned men’s designer, Ozwald Boateng.  With the impeccable skills she gained as an intern, Wavamunno decided to explore the entrepreneur in her and take on the fears and excitement she relates with creating beautiful clothes. So, barely a year after graduation, she founded her own label, “GloRia WavaMunno”. Since the creation of her label, GloRia has worked tirelessly to put out a collection every season, showcasing her work  at major fashion shows yearly. A signature style of authentic fabrics, sharp tailoring, sensual designs and individuality continue to show in her creations.

GloRia WavaMunno the designer is set on redefining the fashion industry in Africa with timeless creations for the discerning fashion lover. For her, fashion is not merely a trend but rather an integral part of her. Ultimately, the GloRia WavaMunno brand remains her true reflection of her love and passion for individuality, sensuality, and culture.”

Ladybrille sat down with Gloria Wavamunno to discuss the business of fashion. Enjoy. Tell us, briefly, how and why you decided to strike out on your own as a fashion entrepreneur?
Gloria W.: It was always an idea in my mind, it was really just waiting for when; when I would be ready, when I would feel ready, when it would be possible. Describe the exact products and services you provide?
Gloria W.: As a brand, I create eccentric, modern, clean womenswear. With occasional ventures into jewellery and unisex t-shirts. I continuously experiment with mixing  African fabrics with plain textures fabrics. What is the core mission of your business?
Gloria W.: The core mission of the GloRia WavaMunno brand is to continue to evolve in the style, texture and message of quality designs. What clearly defined business goals do you have for your brand within the next two years?
Gloria W.: I hope that in terms of development, the brand will be stocked in fashion stores across the globe.  I would also like to increase brand awareness and support in its mission. I also plan to grow my manufacturing capacity within Uganda. (You go Gloria! (We are) big fans of Made in Africa designs). Now, for your products/services, what is the distribution system you have in place to make sure customers get your products when and where they want it?
Gloria W.: We use a stable, reasonable and reliable shipping company which is key, and as long as orders are made vie email with standardized size requirements, we try to deliver to international locations within 2 weeks to 2 months depending on the quantity of the orders. What has been your biggest business success to date?
Gloria W.: I believe the orders made by fashion houses who wish to stock my pieces in their boutiques outside Uganda. What has been your biggest business mistake so far?
Gloria W.: Well as a designer who decides to be an entrepreneur, some times the business side is not your forte so I made one or two mistakes in the beginning but nothing major that I can remember. What kind of challenges do you face when it comes to sourcing of materials for your fashion business?
Gloria W.: When it comes to African fabrics, it is difficult to find the same pattern in large quantities. With plain general textiles, it is difficult to find good quality and a variety of fabrics. These are the main challenges with sourcing for materials. (It seems like sourcing of African  fabrics is a common problem for African designers). What do you believe are the key qualities of a brilliant (Ladybrille) entrepreneur?
Gloria W.: I think in anything you do, you must have the passion for it because the passion will not let you settle or lower your standards and that of your products. When you love something, you wont let it go, even when it hurts (not on purpose) sometimes. So I believe passion is one of the key qualities that drives a brilliant entrepreneur. Can you share with our audience some few tips on financial management of a fashion business? 
Gloria W.: Well financial management in the fashion industry can be tricky as product pricing is complicated. For example, it takes lots of hours to make a garment – from the process of finding the material, sketching to pattern construction, then sewing the garment. All these stages tie up to the cost of a product, yet you may not get much profit in return for all the work invested.  So if finances are not properly managed, you may run your fashion business at a loss. As a new brand, I would say, ensure that finished products have great quality that will create high demand which will keep you in business. How have you been able to integrate new technologies into your business to make it successful?
Gloria W.: New technologies such as social media has been extremely helpful in getting my brand acknowledged in various places around the world. For a new brand, the fact that these media are free and accessible is extremely helpful. Tell us the three ways you have used social media to increase brand awareness and gain recognition for your brand?
Gloria W.: Before my website was launched, my first public page for information on my brand was a facebook business page. I used that for the first two years of my business and it really helped with publicizing the GloRia WavaMunno brand. I recently joined twitter so I use social media to keep clients and potential clients up-to-date on the brand’s progress.  Once again I believe you must have a strong brand image, because it’s the visual that first catches people’s attention, then the message behind those images keeps people interested. And at the base of all that, the core, is the quality of your product. true indeed, product quality is the what keeps me returning to my favorite designers). In your opinion, why do fashion businesses, especially African fashion businesses, fail?
Gloria W.: I am not 100% certain.  But since every African country is different, politically, socially and economically, I believe it stems from the lack of locally manufactured African fabric and the  nature of the target consumer market. As an investment, the fashion industry is cost-intensive with many stages of production so I believe, some designers get easily disheartened by the lack of support from the local consumer market and give up just as easy.  I was well-aware of this challenge before returning home to Kampala, Uganda, so I am and have been ready for the challenge. I am building a global and not just a local brand so I don’t depend on the local market alone. What do you look for when you hire employees?
Gloria W.: When hiring employees who are mainly seamstresses at the moment, I look for drive, passion for the job and loyalty. Because my brand also stands for being able to grow a skill and improve so I look for people who are well-driven and passionate about their craft. What drives you as a business owner? 
Gloria W.: My love for creating amazing clothes!  Some times I can’t believe (even when things are not going as hoped) that I’m actually doing something I dreamed about since I was a child. I’m creating! – that alone drives me to learn, develop my skills and push forward. makes you get up to do what you do everyday instead of throwing in the towel and getting a 9-5?
Gloria W.: Oh that’s simple; because I don’t know what else I would do.

To view Gloria WavaMunno’s website, click here.

The “Ladybrille® Fashion Business With . . .” is a feature on Ladybrille® Magazine that is focused on entrepreneurs in Africa’s fashion industry, with a heavy emphasis on fashion designers. This feature highlights business principles, business practices, follows the money, discusses the challenges faced by fashion startups as well as offers pragmatic tips that should help stir the Ladybrille fashion entrepreneur towards success. If you would like to be featured, send an email to our Associate Editor at ([email protected]), indicate the kind of fashion business you operate and what you intend to share with our audience that you feel will be beneficial to them.

~Copyright 2012 Ladybrille Magazine. All Rights Reserved.

Courtesy photos

Elfonnie Inokon Anusionwu

Elfonnie Inokon Anusionwu is a Ladybrille Woman Alumna. She is also an engineer and fashion entrepreneur. Elfonnie cites her passion for Africa and particularly her country Nigeria as the basis for why she writes. She believes that it is only through journalism that Africans can change the world’s perspective about who they really are. Follow Elfonnie on twitter at @elfonnie.

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