A Q&A with the talented Edi Muyishime, a graduate from SITA’s last Mitreeki Fashion Incubator Programme

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Edi Muyishime is the proud founder of contemporary fashion brand Muyishime. The Rwandan-born, Nairobi-based designer participated in SITA’s Mitreeki Fashion Incubator Programme 2020-21, alongside 41 other fashionpreneurs.

Mitreeki teaches business concepts and their application East African fashion sector. In particular, Mitreeki supports designers to integrate their skills in design with their knowledge of production, distribution and marketing. Students cultivate a statutory process for finding inspiration from the world around them (for example, architecture and flowers), and translating it into a collection with distinct colors, shapes, silhouettes and textures that emulates brand values and identity, is viable to produce, and which meets the needs of the target market. Edi’s recent work provides a dazzling example of this. Intrigued by the way people “have to hide their true colours”, especially sex-workers in Nairobi, he produced an all-black collection with a twist: lustrous black couture with brightly colored linings that flash color when the models move. With this collection, Edi was celebrated in the ‘30 Under 30’ of the continent-wide Arise Fashion Week.

Six months on, Edi continues to put all his newfound knowledge, business skills and confidence to good use. Below, SITA caught up with him to catch up on his latest updates.

Hi Edi. Thanks for speaking with us. Shortly after Arise Fashion Week in Nigeria, you were featured in ELLE Magazine (Côte d’Ivoire). Congratulations! Can you tell us about the piece?

Yes, I collaborated with an American photographer and a Nigerian model named Aize when they were on vacation along the Kenyan coast. They ended up shooting several pieces from my collection. We were pleased with the results, so wesubmitted the photos to several publications. Luckily it was picked up by ELLE Côte d’Ivoire. They did a short story too on the brand and everyone involved to accompany the images.

You can take a look at Edi’s feature in ELLE here.

That’s great. Tell us a bit about how you started your brand. How did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?

I was born around fashion because my mum was a seamstress. I grew up sewing and experimenting with scraps and machines in my mum’s atelier – always drawing designs. When I finished high school, that’s when I decided to pursue fashion professionally. I enrolled in Uni as a fashion student and started developing the brand whilst I was studying and interning.

Muyishime is brand that deals with fashion from an artistic perspective through sculpting and use of other techniques. It’s a brand that gives a voice to many because it’s all about self-expression – our designs blur the lines between gender norms and embrace androgynous designs.

When and how did you find out about Mitreeki? 

I found out about Mitreeki through Ann Mcreath, she personally sent me the application link and I thought it was a good opportunity to expand my knowledge and network. I was confident in my design skills and creativity, but I knew I needed to learn more about the business concepts associated with running a successful fashion business.

How has Mitreeki helped you?

Mitreeki has helped me gain a deeper understanding on the fashion business, particularly when it comes to Marketing – as well as pricing and understanding the market’s needs. I also learnt a lot about networking, and how sustainability is both a necessity and an opportunity. We were taught how to make use of what’s available to make an income and how to operate and sell products on our websites. We learnt a lot!

Which business concepts have been most game-changing for you/your brand? For example, channeling your creativity into a cohesive collection that appeals to your target market.

That’s so exciting to hear. So which business concepts have been most game-changing for you and your brand?

The concept that has been most game changing for me is sustainability, because right now I’m been utilising everything to reduce wastage as a direct result of all the practical tips I learnt. For example, I use scraps to make bags for my clients and other accessories like masks, which are a necessity due to the pandemic.

Do you think Mitreeki classes helped to boost your confidence? If so, how has the confidence contributed to the success of your fashion brand?

Do you think Mitreeki classes helped to boost your confidence? If so, how has the confidence contributed to the success of your fashion brand?

Networking is another thing Mitreeki has really helped me with, and I think this is thanks to the confidence I have built.  I’m naturally a bit shy but interacting and solving problems with my colleagues from Mitreeki has helped me open up to the idea of coming out of my shell and interacting with strangers, these people are eventually becoming collaborators and colleagues.  I would say being in Mitreeki has boosted my social skills as well as my fashion knowledge too.

For regular updates on the progress of Mitreeki graduates, follow SITA on Twitter: @ITC_SITA

Voices of SITA
Voices of SITA
This blog provides a window into the SITA project. Through stories from India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, this blog showcases the project’s progress and impact.