Spec sheets and prototypes: accelerator training in Nairobi

As part of the Designer Accelerator programme which offers opportunities for creatives in African countries, a production-centred training took place in Nairobi for the designers behind Kenyan brands Jiamini, Katush, Suave and Hamaji. Organised by our social enterprise partners Artisan Fashion in Kenya, the participants had a full schedule of immersive workshops that covered all aspects of production.

Through a full range of subjects that were filled with activities and constructive feedback sessions, the Artisan Fashion Training was designed to guide the brands through the entire production journey as they built samples for their upcoming collections. The designers began the training with the foundations: getting to know the style and anatomy of the product they’re designing, creating a detailed specifications sheet, and how to effectively communicate the product idea. “Providing a clear specifications sheet to your production is the glue that holds together your design,” says Jennifer Mulli of Jiamini.

Jennifer Mulli of Jiamini, photographed at Artisan Fashion by Louis Nderi

Inclusive of day trips and site visits to cloth mills and tanneries, the workshop covered additional topics such as Design with Cost Considerations, which discussed the need of examining prices when creating a new item and how the cost affects the entire production process, as well as classes meant to teach designers how to choose their supplier. Most importantly, the workshop featured courses on incorporating sustainable practices in their production. The training wrapped up with the designers completing their very own prototypes for upcoming collections.

The five-week Artisan Fashion Training took place in Nairobi, Kenya and covered all aspects of production. Here, the designers are getting started on specification sheets for their upcoming collections.

On how the workshop has helped in developing her skills and expanding her knowledge on the production process, Katungulu Mwendwa, founder of Katush, explains, “My experience in working with Artisan Fashion was quite a fruitful one. It was both exciting and new for me because there was a bit of stuff I didn’t know beforehand in regards to working with leather and beadwork.”

Pictured: Mohammad Awale of Suave during a workshop on sustainable practices in production.

The training’s location in Nairobi was significant as this was the birthplace of the Ethical Fashion Initiative in 2009. Our partner, Artisan Fashion, is an independent social enterprise that employs over one thousand artisans, most of which are women, to create and produce delicate handmade accessories. Experts in jewellery and accessory production, Artisan Fashion is a leading producer in Kenya for luxury brands worldwide. 

This Kenyan hub brings together a range of artisan skills, from traditional Maasai beading to horn and bone carving, leather craft and embroidery, employing community groups and women’s cooperatives throughout the country. Their extensive client list includes Stella McCartney, MIMCO and Vivienne Westwood, to name a few.

The workshop wrapped up with the designers completing their own prototypes for upcoming collections.

The Kenya Designer Accelerator is funded by ACP.

Photography by Louis Nderi.