Passion for fashion: Zia’s journey from mitumba sales girl to dressing celebs
Published on: February 15, 2019 02:00 (EAT)
Starting an online business is never easy, especially an online clothing line as opposed to high street fashion shops. It takes passion determination and patience. That is exactly what Zia, a 23-year old Community Development graduate from Daystar University is doing with Zia collection. It all started in 2013 with a Facebook page that she opened up that gained 500 followers within 24 hours. “I was shocked with the response as well as the messages I received on Zia Collection Kenya Facebook page with orders being placed immediately after,” she told Citizen Digital.. Diana Mashua, her sister and the husband helped set up Zia Collection. This happened during her visit to their home in Australia in 2013. It is during that time that she realised clothes in Australia were cheaper than those in Kenya. She set her mind to providing clothes for women of all shapes and sizes. “My aim was to appreciate both inner and outer beauty of the trendy, fashionable and chic woman without discriminating them with my collection.” Zia then pitched her business idea to the couple and they agreed to invest in her business. “My sister became my partner, she helped me out with the shipping of clothes as well as bridging the gap between me and the cloth distributors in Australia.” The business was set on online for preorders and later delivery to clients. “At this point, I was working with various Australian distributors and I could not order clothes unless my customers had pre-ordered, I was playing it safe,” she says. Before Zia Collection, the fashion entrepreneur used to sell second hand clothes popularly known as mitumba to friends and family. “Selling mitumba clothes to friends and family has helped in the building of Zia Collection, she says, it was easy for people to trust in Zia Collection as they had already experienced my services with the mitumba,” She did not have a business plan for Zia Collection at first as well as for the previous mitumba business, she ended up using all her profit on her personal needs. “I was only 19-years-old when I began and did not understand the importance of accounting for money I got from selling the clothes,” she says. At the age of 20, Zia was convinced by her mother to open up a bank account for her collection for proper accountability: “I am really blessed to have a family that is supportive.” It was tough for Zia to balance both school and work at the same time; receiving calls during class for orders that sometimes resulted in me missing classes to deliver to my clients. “My mother was so supportive from offering to be my personal assistant to taking orders for me as well as helping with the deliveries, when I was backed up with school work,” she says. Zia has always been business oriented, from selling popcorn at Ksh.5 at the age of seven in Mzima Springs, Nairobi. “During school break, I’d put up a popcorn stand in our estate and sell them but nobody used to buy them because most of the time they were burnt but this did not stop me. “I was there every morning with my stand, she says, my mother was the only person who would buy them and she encouraged her friends to buy them too even though they’d throw them away immediately after purchase,” she adds. Zia believes that parents should support their children’s dream by encouraging them to pursue their ventures. “For one to have a prosperous online business, one needs a great following that will like, comment and share your social media posts to their various social media pages,” Zia has the same group of friends since High school and she believes that she is extremely blessed to have them. “We all have each other’s back, we meet once a week over coffee to gauge our weekly growth; we are all entrepreneurs and make a point of encouraging one another in bettering our different ventures,” Zia is a believer of possessing a positive aura and believes that in order for one to succeed, one needs to surround themselves with people who have dreams, desires and ambition like theirs. “We have a chama that has been running for the past two years. It allows us to invest in various businesses that enables us to grow as a whole,” she says The 23-year-old is currently sketching her own clothes and works hand in hand with a highly competent tailor who makes clothes for her. Zia Collection now has over 7,000 followers on both Instagram and Facebook and it’s all in the name of like, share and comment. Social media is the new future for fashion: Zia says she has dressed celebrities like Talia Oyando of Homeboyz Radio, Brenda Wairimu of MOMMY101 on Ebru TV Sharon Mundia (Living with Ess) as well as Sharon Mwangi and Elani for their KooKoo music video. Being a Community Development degree holder from Daystar University, she intends to further her passion for fashion to help eradicate poverty. She wants to start a project for counties that will empower women by teaching them how to sew and earn a living through fashion. Zia’s advice to aspiring and even accomplished designers is to strategise by creating a business plan, focusing on authenticity, learning how to work with others, embracing social media and not to forget to pray without ceasing.