WALKING IN STYLE: Yvonne Mwazo, founder, Reina Africana. [PHOTO – COURTESY]

It is said that the first impression forms a lasting impression. Therefore, it is advisable to be  well groomed during your first meeting.  It may cost you a big deal! BL magazine talks to Yvonne Mwazo, a young and seasoned fashion designer on her journey as an entrepreneur.

BL: Who is Yvonne and how did you get where you are today?

 Yvonne:  Yvonne is a 23 year old girl who was born in Kenya but moved to America with my family when I was only five years old. I grew up in California. I have always loved fashion! Since I was a little girl my sister, my mother and I would always go shopping to buy new outfits for church.  On Sundays, it was like our girls day out. I have always been creative and it eventually led me to start my first business; Reina Africana. I’ve always wanted to be a designer and have my own clothing line. That takes a lot of time and money so I knew I had to start somewhere, being a stylist is the way for me to get my clients to trust me and introduce myself to the fashion industry. I’ve been a stylist since January 2017.  To be honest, being a wardrobe stylist is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am allowed to create my own schedule, work with so many different people, go to amazing locations and most importantly, make my clients feel and look amazing in whatever they are wearing.

BL: Did you always want to be a stylist?

Yvonne: No (chuckles). While growing up, I always wanted to be a doctor or a therapist so that I could help those who are in pain but that changed gradually. In the summer of 2016, I was selling distressed jeans to my friends and the people I met at events I was going to because they always liked what I had put on. I’ve had a couple of girls ask me to buy the jackets I had on and I definitely sold them at the end of the night ahah … I was also cutting up t-shirts. I got a sewing machine and started making Ankara chokers, selling gold African chains which is definitely my best selling piece for the past two years. Right now, Reina Africana is selling authentic African jewelry hand beaded by the women of Kenya.

BL: What attributes would you say drive you?

Yvonne: Passion and patience. Being a stylist is not as easy as it seems. When I started out, I didn’t know anyone in the industry so I had to work hard and smart to gain experience for some time. I tried to reach out to other celebrity stylists but they turned me down. I never gave up and the rest as they say is history.

BL: What should we know?  You are best at what? What sets you apart from the competition?
Yvonne:  I’ve always loved fashion. I specialize in photo shoots, fashion editorials, content creation, building portfolios, closet cleanses, fashion shows, everyday styling and anything related to fashion! I am proud to improve the image of the women I work with and give them the confidence to see themselves in a chic and fashionable way.

I do whatever it takes for my clients to look and feel their best. Being a classy businesswoman who specializes in high fashion with an edgy street style allows me to merge all of them together to tend to so many different men and women.

BL: Who are some of the artists you look up to?

Yvonne: I admire Law Roach and J Bolin. I simply like the way they elevate their clients’ looks without masking their personalities.

BL:  If you had to start over, what would you have done differently?

Yvonne: If I were to do it over again, I would definitely be more organized. I tend to jump into projects without thinking about how much work and time it will take.

BL: What advice do you have for upcoming stylists?

Yvonne:  Collaborate with other creative such as models, videographers, photographers and make-up artists as this will help you build your portfolio. Always participate in new projects even when there is no pay.  Finally, hard work definitely pays.

BL:   What is your best quote?

Yvonne:  My favourite quote is Edith Head’s  : “ You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.”

Fashion you can buy, but style you possess. The key to style is learning who you are, which takes years. There’s no how-to road map to style. It’s about self expression and, above all, attitude.



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