FASHION THROUGH MY EYES

Siphira Gitau spots one of her designs
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Sky is the limit for a   young   entrepreneur in the world of fashion

By PK Wanjiru

If you aspire to be a fashion designer or work in the fashion industry in any capacity, look for the key players in the industry who boldly forged their own career paths for inspiration. Even the biggest names in fashion design had to start somewhere, and often it was at the bottom.

It was their commitment to developing their creative and business skills, persistence in the face of rejection, and their unwavering passion for design that allowed them to break out and succeed,’ :  Anonymous.

Never give up. It’s probably one of the clichés   that   you’ll hear as you’re building your career. But you never know when success really does lie around the next corner. The biggest dilemma   however is how far you would be willing to go especially when you realize that what you learned in school is totally different from your career aspirations. 

A bridal party showcases some of the designs from Cphie designs.

That is the story of Siphira Gitau. Ms. Gitau was born in Mutuini ward, Dagoretti South constituency, which is within Nairobi County. She joined Kirigu primary school at a tender age in 1998 for her basic education and would later transfer to Mutuini Educational Centre. Between 2006 – 2009, she joined Don Bosco Girls in  Embu for her secondary education. Ms. Gitau would later pursue a diploma in social work and community development at the Kenya Institute of Professional Counselling before joining the University of Nairobi where she studied sociology and communication.

Later after graduating, she worked as an intern with the Kenya Red Cross society and Dagoretti children’s office before joining World Vision as an enumerator.

Now one of the fastest growing Kenyan designers, Ms Gitau first encountered the art of fashion at its most rudimentary level.

“My Journey as a fashion designer has been one   that I pride myself in. I never went to school to study anything to do with design. My mother was a tailor and in most cases I used to give her company at  late nights as she tried to meet deadlines for her clients and I would assist her in small assignments such as ironing and fixing buttons”, she recalls.

Siphira Gitau spotting an african attire look. one of her most famous designs.

However by then, she wasn’t sure where she was headed in life and had no idea that this would later turn out to be her biggest venture. Her big break came in 2016 when the Mutuini ward was hosting its first ever beauty pageant – Miss Mutuini. According to Ms. Gitau, it was her friend who pushed her to the venture. “My interest in the beauty pageant was basically to support Wanjiru Kariuki who is my very good friend. She made sure that I participated in the beauty pageant and that is when my interest in fashion design grew after I won in the ‘best African  dress’  category ,”  she affirms.

It was after this victory that Ms. Gitau decided to give fashion design a serious thought without knowing what the future had in store.  She got into the deep waters of the business   and launched Cphie designs. The label has since become a winner especially during Kalasha Film and TV awards an annual event by the Kenya Film Commission. As the founder of Cphie designs, her role is to ensure that her clients’   needs are met on time, besides ensuring that the label runs profitably. “I create a healthy and   conducive environment for my workers so that they can be productive,” she shares.

Throughout her Journey as an entrepreneur, she has learnt many beneficial lessons. However according to Ms Gitau the one which has stood out is giving her clients quality, authentic and legit services.

The young entrepreneur believes that when you give your clients the best, they will always come back and give more referrals a factor that she says has really shaped the growth of her thriving business. By the same token, she is of the opinion that women should be given more chances to prove to the world that they are the future and can thrive in business too. All this can be proved through action and results.  “Women run the world. Studies show that women on average have a slight edge over men when it comes to emotional intelligence .Women score higher than men in almost all emotional intelligence competencies. When it comes to women in leadership or business, emotional intelligence and ability to listen  are   very key and this proves that women can leverage their aptitude with emotional intelligence when it comes to leading their own companies,”  affirms Ms. Gitau.

Now at thirty, she has     dreams of growing her business beyond the scope of her local clients. “Women face unique challenges in business. People tend look down on us .They tend to think we can’t thrive without men and in most cases when we attend business meetings; we are not given chances to speak. That is why I would urge every woman who aspires to venture into business to just take   that bold step and get started. Just do it, use what you have and the rest will fall in place. Women too can thrive in business”, she avers. 

Her   advice to other women aspiring to become entrepreneurs   is to   believe in themselves and their abilities. “Identify whether there is a   need for a product or service in the market.  Don’t depend on handouts to get something done. Look for mentors, read about them, their life journey and challenges,” she says.

 When asked about the reasons behind her success, Ms Gitau says:  “I am glad I was bold.

Even in uncertain times, I always looked at things positively, expecting that everything would fall into place. The downside of thinking that way is that sometimes you take on more than you can handle, but I am happy about   living with the consequences of too much rather than too little.”

Indeed Siphira Gitau’s success story is one that is filled with determination, resilience and   hard work.  It is a true testimony that you can start from where you are and create your own empire.

Siphira Gitau at a Glance

  • Her typical day begins at 6am when she wakes up for her morning devotion before preparing breakfast. By 7am, she leaves to interact with her clients.
  • Favorite book “African girl” by KeziaDzifa
  • Favorites quote “People will stare. Make it worth their while”
     Harry Winston
  • Favorite food Ugali greens and fish. She prefers to go healthy
  • Her hobbies include but not limited to travelling, swimming and shopping.
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