What you need to know:
Kiragga tips people who want to thrive in the fashion industry to be honest, committed, time conscious, patient, competitive. She also believes some basic training and exercising professionalism while dealing with customers creates a sustainable business relationship.
Mary Kiragga’s fashion journey was inspired by her wedding gown. The woman who tailored her gown had demonstrated great skills.
“Three months after the wedding, I made up my mind to learn this skill and my husband supported me,” she says.
Her fashion dream was realised in 2017. The fashion enthusiast started out at home with Shs700,000 as capital. “I bought a secondhand sewing machine, thread, fabric and other materials,” she says.
To compete in a largely crowded market, Kiragga enrolled for a short course in fashion and design at Ebenezer Training Centre in Seeta, Mukono and was certified as a professional tailor.
Her first order, she recalls, came in from a friend who needed five outfits. “I charged her Shs30,000 for labour for each outfit exclusive of material, hence earning my first income as Shs150,000,” Kiragga says.
From working at home to renting space in one of the malls in Mukono, Kiragga has expanded her business over the years with capital worth of Shs20m.
She is quick to note that her earnings dropped greatly due to the pandemic. “I used to earn some good money before Covid-19 ravaged the country. But the clientele has greatly reduced,” she says,
In order to break even, clear her rent arrears coupled with the high prices of materials on the market lately, the fashionprenuer has since increased her prices.
As a way to boost her sales, she acknowledges the power of social media, which she uses to market her items.
“My customers also post my work on their statuses which gets their audiences to know about me and this earns me recommendations,” she adds.
The youthful fashion designer not only puts together pieces for customers but herself as well. She is notably known for her wild fashion sense such as the balloon dress and her party dress with party cans for the collar-helm details.
She is able to express art both in clothing and music. She says she has managed to earn big from the business such as establishing a farm, where she is growing food for home consumption and commercial gains.
“Fashion has also helped me to network with different people and I have gained confidence on the job over the years,” she adds.
Kiragga has continuously exhibited resilience while dealing with customers whom she admits some default payment, especially close friends.
She explains, “Some clients are too complicated to work with; they are rude, undecided and want to pay less. Because I have dealt with a number of them, I have become more patient,” she says.
Kiragga has mastered the art of keeping a cool head amidst client disrespect for the sake of her business. She currently buys her materials in Kiyembe- down town, Kampala and is optimistic that she will ship in materials from Thailand and China.
She also envisions herself in the near future expanding her business. “I have plans of acquiring a big work space and owning a training centre for fashion and design,” she shares.
Kiragga also plans to purchase more machines and employ more young people. For her singing career, she is exercising patient on a journey.
She is aware of how her fashion knowledge is very instrumental in her music career and that the two blend in well with each other as she can communicate through both her fashion and music.
Kiragga counts tips people who want to thrive in the fashion industry to be honest, committed, time conscious, patient, competitive and continue learning.
“Avoid getting too comfortable and dare to try out new things. Recognise that competition only makes you better,” she adds.
She also advises those that want to venture into fashion to acquire some basic training and exercise professionalism when dealing with customers for a sustainable business relationship.