Abigael. K. Gabby is a twenty-two-year-old Ugandan national, student and fashion designer currently running her fashion line ‘Gabriella Atelier.’ Her fashion line has also birthed the campaign and another fashion brand, ‘iWear Me.’
In an interview with Abigael, she shares a few things about her, and what drives her to do what she does: because in actual sense, Abigael’s presence is larger than life. This lady is a mover, and is involved in various community development projects; she’s into children empowerment, not to mention but a few. Let’s get started.
Abigael, what inspired you to start your fashion line ‘Gabriella.Atelier’?
Honestly, having always been a fashion lover, I didn’t know what exactly to do in the fashion Industry. I must admit I did a lot before I could finally say ‘this is what I want to do; fashion designing!’ I always wanted to be my own boss for as long as I can remember so starting my business, however small it still is. It gives me joy because I’m growing along with it and being my own boss!
Okay, a second. Before you became this boss, this Gabby that is running project after another and actually winning at what you do, where did all this start?
Oh forgot to mention where it all started.
Aha (giggles) Right after my high school! So, my sister and I started running a shoe shop downtown Kampala which I must say helped me with entrepreneurship skills and financial management but since I was basically unsure of what I wanted I always kept my door open for every opportunity that knocked. After that, I joined the best company and probably best people I have ever worked with Eminent Brandz where I learned most of the things am applying today about self-branding, marketing, good graphics and most of all running with them Kampala kids fashion show which has grown into a leading international kids fashion show.
What inspired the name ‘Gabriella Atelier’?
Nothing really, Atelier means’ fashion workshop’ in French so it’s basically my name.
iWear Me, on the other hand, is basically a clothing line dedicated to people like ‘me’ struggling with insecurities and self-acceptance involving in campaigns and creating more self-confidence awareness and movements. So this is more than just a clothing brand. The name iWear Me means “I am being myself” that’s where I drew my inspiration
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in starting your own business and how have you been able to overcome them?
My challenge has always been balancing school with books and lots of running projects on my table. Being a young entrepreneur is possibly one of the hardest things but I have managed to create Time for everything that’s to say my school, my work, and my running projects.
The other challenge is positioning ‘myself’ in the fashion industry, which I am basically working hard on.
What keeps you going day by day? Or how do you manage to keep moving despite the challenges as a business owner?
What keeps me going every day in spite of so many challenges is the inspiration of knowing at the back of my mind that someday I will make it no matter what.
Where do you see your business in the next ten years?
In the next ten years? I don’t know how best to picture this ha-ha but I see it not only growing big but also changing lives.
Since everyone is having their own special experience this lockdown & quarantine season. Would I be right to assume it has had some setbacks on you and your business?
Well, since my business is still running online I must say quarantine has done more good than harm for me. It has given me more time to create things I thought I was too busy to-do and learning a new skill. I am basically putting effort into learning fashion illustrations and opening my mind to DIYs at home. So quarantine has been not really bad on my side when it comes to my business
What are some of the achievements your business has had ever since you showed up?
Um, not much to share yet. But, I was on women’s day this year recognized as one of the women doing extraordinary work in Uganda by ‘Ntunga’ I have also had a chance to work with Miss Uganda North America leadership program on their recently concluded 2020 cares tour.
What else keeps you on your toes you besides ‘Gabriella Atelier’?
Apart from running the Atelier, I do spend my weekends at Kampala kids club where I happen to be one of the co-founders along with The founder Hunter Nsubuga and Producer Nalinya Fifi. I love kids (stresses point) and every minute I get to spend with them means a lot to me. And also run quite a lot of projects with eminent brands like Kampala kids fashion show, Kampala teens fashion show, little miss universe and lots more in kids business.
Could you share what Kampala Kids club is, and what your involvement with the club is?
Kampala kids club is a foremost initiative and talent academy for kids. We equip kids with things that they might not learn in school from building their confidence, building their talents which we believe could be careers for them in the future. Not only do we focus on the talent we equip them with elementary entrepreneurship, teaching them about finance and money at a young age. We come up with projects and challenge them to do it and this quarantine we have come up with “Junior Chef” this is to help them even to know how to cook it’s a competition that we shall launch after quarantine so, for now, we believe they are home learning how to cook. Recently some of the kids from the club were booked for international fashion week Dubai which we were glad to participate in…
There are some posts of you with Miss Uganda North America. What’s your involvement with the pageantry and how do you get to work with these amazing people?
Just like any other person who is passionate about humanity I do work with ‘different, better with a purpose’ which is founded by a friend of mine called Iryn Nakitende. It’s an initiative helping the girl child in menstruation hygiene by teaching them how to make reusable pads. I have also worked with MUNA for some good time now courtesy of ‘Different Better With A Purpose.’ so since it’s a diaspora project and they get to run things on the ground, I have been one of the people helping when I asked.
Now ‘Different Better With A Purpose’ was the official partners for Miss Uganda North America 2020 Cares Tour in Uganda, together with Miss Oregon USA where we engaged in so many charity works and donations. We visited Remnant Generation safe home for teen mothers and donated to the home, visited Rubaga Girls School and talked about Mental wellness creating more awareness and also visited Katanga Slum and Miss Uganda North America program donated dust bins to create more awareness about hygiene.
Abigael, you are amazing, and your work is definitely mind-blowing. So I noticed you traveled to Ghana sometime last year, could you share what that epic slayage was all about?
Oh yeah hahaha seems I have a lot to share (giggles). I was invited in Ghana as one of the country representatives late last year for the Young African leaders’ Summit which was to bring young leaders all around Africa together to discuss issues that bother us in our different fields of work. I was glad to represent the art industry alongside other young people only 4 Ugandans attended the summit and I was glad to be one of them.
What advice would you give to other youths out there… Who are not starting, or who want to start their business?
Starting is never easy. It took me a lot of time to say NOW LET ME DO SOMETHING! The only advice I can give you if you are reading this is to START. Don’t be afraid to take that one step. Be open to learn and never be afraid to be different.
Okay, so you’ve read Abigael K. Gabby’s story. She’s amazing, and I’m pretty sure a lot of us can agree on that. And she just left you a piece of advice up there. Don’t miss it. So this season, I’m going to be running a series of inspiring stories on businesses and individuals in Africa and all over the world. Young people who are doing amazing things. Don’t miss that out. Abigael’s story has been the first this season. Another story is on next Thursday. Don’t you even make a mistake, of forgetting to subscribe because a lot more is coming… A lot that is going to inspire you to become better, do better, achieve more and most of all, touch/change lives. Cheers! Peace & Love, -Betty!
Enjoy more pictures of Abigael here, and follow The Lunkuse Initiative on Facebook and Instagram here, for other updates on community development, social entrepreneurship, and business… Follow Gabriella Atelier HERE