Photo/Courtesy Wambui Mukenyi (left), the founder and head designer of the Wambui Mukenyi fashion house and Janet Mbugua modelling pieces from The Janet Collection

Celebrity branding is fast catching up in Kenya as entrepreneurs seek to boost sales.
The entry of TV personality Janet Mbugua in the fashion business using her name as a brand in a clothing line becomes the latest as Kenyans strive to increase sales in a cutthroat market.
Recently, KikoRomeo designed menswear featuring the Kenya Sevens Rugby team with the trend expected to grow as more entrepreneurs turn to celebrity marketing.
Globally, celebrities promote brands through appearing in advertisements, attending public relations events or being adopted as faces of fashion houses— and when Wambui Mukenyi reached out to Ms Mbugua to help her come up with a collection targeting corporate women and market them— it was a refreshing approach to the Kenyan fashion business.
Ms Mukenyi is the founder and head designer of the fashion house that goes by her name Wambui Mukenyi or WM.
How her collection with Ms Mbugua, a news anchor, called “The Janet Collection” is received by the Kenyan corporate women will be a new experiment in the fashion market.
“I met Janet through fashion stylist Annabel Onyango when she was looking for a gown to go to an event. Later on she consulted me on several occasions in regards to her work clothes,” Ms Mukenyi says.
Ms Mbugua suggested that they work on a collection targeting working women between the ages of 25-35 who do not want to wear the common suits sold in shops around town.
“We worked on the collection together. She would suggest that a certain colour is nice, then I would try it and see whether it worked,” says Ms Mukenyi.
Ms Mukenyi has only been in business for two years and has released two collections of 20 plus clothes.
With the assistance of the Internet particularly social media and her website, she has managed to market her clothes to reach many customers.
She makes clothes with contemporary African style which is chic and elegant with a bit of an edge.
Imagine, a Kitenge jacket with spiky stiff shoulders or bright kitenge top with laces at the front and back to hold it together over a white dress.
These are the clothes that featured in her collection that targets customers who want “different” or “not common.”
For “The Janet Collection” she roped in Ms Mbugua’s style to cater for the conservative corporate woman.
Ms Mukenyi says she does not want to give young women the same old boring black and grey suits, but colour, clean cuts and print.
 “The key idea for this collection was simple chic cuts, elegance and a little bit of colour for the corporate woman that make her feel comfortable and also clothes that can be accessible to every woman,” says the fashion designer.
The “Janet Collection” is a ready–to-wear assortment of 20 pieces.
The prices range from Sh6,500 to Sh7,500 and can be purchased through Ms Mukenyi’s website or her studio on the second floor of Diamond Plaza, Highridge.
So when did her love for fashion start?
“I have always been interested in fashion since I was a child, but I did know I wanted to be a designer until I started working as an assistant to a fashion designer,” she says.
Business sense
She worked for a fashion house for two years before it closed down. As the personal assistant, she was keen on the business side.
She says she learnt that one can be creative but have no business sense which would lead to failure.
When she started out, her biggest challenge was getting a proper team to actualise her designs into reality.
“So far, I have a proper team that ensures production is of quality and makes the dress exactly how I have sketched it,” she says.
If one wants to get into the industry for the glamour and money only, it is not enough. There is a lot of hard work that happens behind the scenes, she advises upcoming designers.
“You have to know what the market needs and cater for it. I like being edgy and comfortable too,” she says.
Her work has appeared in fashion pages in local publications and her blog has a good following.
So what inspires her to go on each day?
“It is beautiful to have a fabric, come up with a drawing and see it coming to life into art,” she says.


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