Even from her days in elementary school, Christine Mbabazi was always inclined towards the extraordinary. She had shown glimpses of promise in athletics, drama, and music, but perhaps the most important moment came when she had some chance encounter with the world of fashion.
She was still a pupil in Class Five, and a schoolmate of hers had shown up to school in a ‘Kitenge’ dress which looked beautiful until she made it even more gorgeous by complimenting the outfit with some accessories. The said schoolmate looked like a work of art after Christine did her magic, and the little girl from Rwanda had just found yet another thing that she was great at.
From that moment onwards, Christine took her fashion skills seriously.
She would combine colours and make unique dresses and accessories in her home which she wore to the many events that came up during her time in High School. And perhaps the crowning moment came when she was named ‘Miss Designer’ at Gahini Secondary School in 2010.
That was to mark the beginning of something special as Christine Mbabazi was to eventually move from designing clothes in her bedroom to opening her store; Christine’s Creative Collections (CCC). And now, she has set her sights on transforming her fashion brand into a household name.
Christine Mbabazi was born in 1990 to Rwandan parents who lived in Uganda. Her family returned to Rwanda a few years after her birth and she, thus, had most of her early childhood in her home country. After her primary and secondary education, she went on to study at Mount Kenya University, Kigali, from where she bagged a degree in Mass Communication in 2015.
Christine got her business up and running in 2011 and, interestingly, she had to juggle her studies with business when she gained admission into college.
Her company, CCC, produces and sells a wide variety of fashionable items, including bags, clothes, and shoes. The company adds a touch of Rwandan culture in all its creations as all the items are made by hand from locally-sourced materials.
“The brand is promoting African fabric and African designs, with my creativity, and developing it to the rest of the world,” says the young entrepreneur. “I love the African fabric. Growing up, I liked looking unique – so I used to cut my clothes in different ways, I used to change them, I used to sew with my hands. It all inspired me to come up with what I have today.”
Having already handled the demands of the business together with her academic commitments at a certain point, the Rwandan entrepreneur appears to be still in the juggling game. She currently doubles as an On-Air-Personality on Rwanda’s Radio 10 – another passion of hers (not necessarily borne out of her academic qualifications).
Christine had been interested in radio even before her days in college, she was a member of a debating society back in high school, and this may have helped hone her public speaking skills. Before landing the job at Radio 10, she had once auditioned to be a presenter on KFM, but that didn’t quite work out.
When she was invited to feature as a guest on a programme on Radio 10, she saw it as her big chance. She grabbed the opportunity with both hands, and it didn’t take long before she landed a job on the same radio station. She had to feel her way around the new job initially, but she got the hang of it eventually.
Mbabazi uses social media as a tool to reach new customers, and the radio job also helps her connect with a broad Rwandan clientele. Corporates and individuals in the blue-collar industry are known to patronise her brand, although there may still be difficulties associated with convincing people that traditional fabrics can be at home in formal settings.
She hopes to break that stereotype and create a larger market for her products, as well as showcase Rwanda’s rich cultural heritage to the outside world by exporting her products to other parts of Africa and the even the western world.
Featured Image Courtesy: CNN