Young fashion czar seeks to take advantage of the limitations of over-the-counter outfits
By Beverline Timanoi
Joshua Mayiani, 23, has an exquisite taste in fashion.
Also known by his stage name, Nation Boy, Mayiani is the brains behind Kitengela Suits, a fast rising fashion house in Kitengela that makes custom outfits meant to fully express client desires.
“Ever since I can remember, I have been particular about what I wear and how I look. Even as a young boy, I felt that I am defined by what I wear,” says Mayiani.
Evident in the designs he makes, Mayiani’s focus is custom-made outfits. He seeks to take advantage of the limitations of over-the-counter outfits. He believes that custom-made attires offer clients exactly what they are looking for.
“People are no longer going for ready made suits. They dig up unique styles, tailor them up, and achieve a unique personalized design. Custom-made outfits are one-of-a-kind, handcrafted garments made expressly for a client,” he explains.
Men who appreciate the highest quality are increasingly going to great lengths to get the attires they desire custom-made. He sees the trend as a way for men to make their mark.
“A suit makes a man,” says Mayiani. “Attention to detail. Professionalism. The world is more competitive than ever before. You’ve got to find a way to stand out.”
Less than a year after he started Kitengela Suits, he does not regret it. His skills are unmatched: He displays the designer skills he studied at the Technical University of Kenya in every outfit he makes.
“The business, which requires more than Ksh100,000 to begin, can bring in a profit of not less than Ksh3,000 per outfit depending on the fabric used,” says Mayiani.
The outfits prices range between Ksh5,500 and Ksh25,000, depending on the fabric and design used.
Being a musician and meeting many artists who market his designs has also been advantageous in growing his business.
“Music and fashion go hand-in-hand; as an artist, you have to dress fashionably. I have dressed the likes of Sanino Bless, Sammy Bless, Flex Mziki, Davie Dancer, The beats Entertainment Dance Crew, and many others,” he says.
As a way to market his designs, Mayiani is planning a Mr. and Miss Kitengela Suits competition. “I will be hosting Mr and Miss Kitengela suits in April this year; I will dress all the models present with my designs and award the winners,” he says.
“We help our clients bring their fantasy designs to reality; for those without any idea of a design, we suggest this, depending on age and event,” he adds.
When coming up with a design, age and the targeted event determine the details required a lot. “The elderly need something smart and simple; they don’t like decorations. Dinner and red carpet events require a different design from an office look,” he says.
Even though his business is steadily growing, it faces challenges like any other business. Clients who make orders only to change their minds and demand a refund are the main challenge.
He also loses clients who demand fabrics that can only be sourced outside Kenya — which he says is financially out of his reach for now. He however does not worry too much about the challenges as he believes every business has its own headaches.
While he loves fashion, he is smart enough not to put all his eggs in one basket. Mayiani works as a product consultant at an Oppo phone company, whose returns cushion the sometimes low workflow at his workshop.
“As a fashion house we have our goal, which is to create employment for the youth who have knowledge in different fields such as marketing, tailoring and modeling,” he says.