I cut my mum’s gomesi and handmade a dress for our doll - Katamba
Tell us briefly about yourself?
Iam Nicholas Katamba, 36. I was born in Mityana to Pascal Ssemakula and the late Cotilda Nakachwa. I went to St Noah’s Kiyinda Primary School Mityana, Mityana Secondary School and Crested Secondary School in Makindye for high school.
In 2010, I joined Tiner International School of Beauty, Art and Design for a three-year course and attained a diploma in fashion design in 2014. After school, I set up my fashion label Just Kat Wear (JK@).
How did you come up with Just Kat Wear?
I came up with Just Kat wear from my name Katamba. Since ‘kat’ sounds like cut I went for just that.
What does it take to be a fashion designer?
To be a fashion designer, one needs to be able to sketch with inspiration, illustrate with colours and models and be able to draw pattern drafts and later cut those patterns onto fabrics the right way; sit at a machine and stitch perfectly or like me, even use freehand style of stitching.
The difference between a designer and a tailor is that tailors only sit at their machines and stitch without going through the steps I have mentioned above, whereas some designers even decide not to stitch and they sketch, illustrate and cut patterns for assistants to do the stitching.
Do you do fashion and design for money or out of interest?
I have had this passion since I was still a naughty little boy. I remember cutting my mum’s gomesi. I cut that gomesi and handmade a dress for our baby (doll). Luckily, it was amazing and my mum did not punish me. I design for money as well because at the end of the day it is what puts food on the table and pays my bills and also helped me to pay tuition through fashion school.
Are there any challenges involved in what you do?
There are lots of challenges involved in designing. Many people are used to cheap second hand stuff so they want to pay less yet nice materials are expensive. Also, it is not easy to find good fabrics that correspond with designs customers ask for.
Getting paid half, less or even not at all for a client’s outfit and especially when you have worked with him or her before, is also a challenge. This applies to celebrities whereby you create a nice garment for him or her, say for a show or red-carpet appearance, and then she says she bought the outfit abroad from a certain design label yet at times you gave the dress free-of-charge so she could mention your name to market you.
What are your future prospects?
I would like to grow my business/label by opening up a big shop or more than one and also target the international market whereby I can be able to sell more of my creations abroad and showcase them there as well. Also be able to share my designing skills with lots of other fashion lovers everywhere in the world as my skills have enabled me to travel to different parts of the world outside my country which is a very big achievement.
What special thing don’t people know about you?
One thing that people do not know about me is that I have a special touch and ability to turn anything, such as wasted fabric, fibre or anything that has to do with stitches into something useful or a nice garment for the next event or daily casual wear with my talented left hand. I make both women and men’s wear.
Talking relationships, are you married?
I am not married but have had good relationships before; no children yet but I am looking after some people in my family and I am proud of that. I cannot forget my beautiful dog and security guard. Her name is Brutus Wannonda. When the time is right, I will settle with someone. I have been more focused on my passion and it has consumed all my years, though I have no regrets, I have given it undivided attention and I believe there will be time for a relationship. No rush.
What do you like most in a woman?
What I like in a woman is personality and chemistry; how one communicates and responds to a conversation self-care and style. I like it when a woman knows what to wear and what works for her body and when to wear it for a specific event but she still has to be very time conscious; you know women and being in front of mirrors for long, a trait which I do not like.
What would you change about yourself if you had the powers to?
I would change nothing about me even if I had the powers to because I love everything about me.
Do you have any weird behaviour?
Hahahahaha...not anything I know of because it is within my conscious when I do or say it. Weird behaviour… I love my drink. Others may find it weird but I would not because I love my drink at a time when I really need it. Life is too short, you know!
Katamba’s design work
Nicholas Katamba has showcased his designs with Malengo Foundation for the Hotpink charity fashion show sponsored by the UN, at the Bayimba Music festival of the Arts last year and this year at the Seed Fashion Show by the American Embassy and Kas Wear where he made outfits for American diplomats, which he says exposed him to a big clientele of artistes, actors and actresses and various other people who pay well. He has also exhibited at Rasmas Global Festival of the fallen and Living, Social and Political personalities since 2008 to date. He has also showcased his designs at a number of beauty pageants around Kampala and also does business outside Uganda in Zanzibar, South Africa, Sweden and Norway.