Judy Githogori is not your average tailor. She is a fashion designer set on making the world a better place through her love for fashion. Situated at Oljabet town, Laikipia county, Judy has a designing shop where she specializes in Ankara fabric. The reason for choosing this kind of fabric for her designs is to encourage Africanization among Kenyans. Her inspiration comes from showing that even Ankaras-popularly known as kitenge-can also be fashionable. Most Kenyans, especially the youths, have welcomed the western way of dressing and that is what she is trying to rectify. She started her business in 2017 after the contract to her employment ended. She chose Oljabet as her base of operation because it is her home town and the cost of living is low. Since it is quite a small town, she only uses it for production purposes. Her marketing strategies include; loyal customers who help publicize her designs, online marketing on Facebook and Jamaa Supermarket in Nyahururu town which acts as a middle man in selling her products. What makes her business stand out is that her clothes are trendier than the others in their locality. The designer has offered employment to a number of residents who help in navigating her day-to-day business in both temporary and contractual capacities.
As one of SMEs under the Laikipia Innovation and Enterprise Development Programme, Judy had the opportunity to promote her products in Mombasa during a recent marketing foray by the local stakeholders. The event aimed at promoting Laikipia economy gave her a platform to expose her products to a bigger population. She attributes her success to the Innovation and Enterprise Development programmes. “If it were not for the innovation programme, I would not have got some of the clients I have right now,” Judy says. The programme has helped her acquire exposure and expanded her business through more clientele. Her motivation comes from helping the less fortunate people from her community. She sponsors a couple of students where she pays for their school fees and buys them all the necessary items needed in schools. She says that the more sales she makes, the more she is able to give back to the society. Just like any other business, she experiences challenges such as unresponsive residents who have not yet grasped the aspect of fashion and Ankara culture. Her support system is quite varied, from her family to the county government.
She is a beneficiary of the Laikipia economic stimulus where the county government in conjunction with several banks help Laikipia businesses get back on their feet after being hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Judy advises the youths to follow their dreams and for parents to be supportive in their children’s careers. She has been looked down upon because of the path she chose for a career since she is a university graduate. “If you are talented and passionate about something, pursue it. Your passion is what drives you because whether you are making money or not, you enjoy doing it,” Judy also credits her success to selfdiscipline and focus. Self-discipline encourages one to push themselves and focus enables devotion and commitment to a particular goal. She stands by two values: Integrity and Honesty. She believes that one’s word is their bond. “If you make a promise, make sure you see it through to the end. Stick to your word.” She has a vision of expanding her business not just countrywide but also worldwide with her aspiration being Zara. She also hopes to employ more staff, preferably ten or more permanent staff. She sticks to the phrase all work and no play makes jack a dull boy. In her off days she enjoys morning jogs and spending time with family. Even though her work is demanding, she finds the balance to take care of her mental and physical health. As Kenyans, we should promote our very own. We build ourselves. We should not go outside the country buying what we can produce for ourselves. Let us market our products among ourselves.”