Founder Juliet Namujju On Eco-Fashion, Plastic Waste & Persons with Disability
Kimulifashionability is a sustainable fashion brand whose objective is to fight for the conservation of the environment and inclusion of persons with disabilities by using plastic waste materials to hand-craft apparel and accessories. Founded by Juliet Namujju, she describes her role at the brand as; ‘to ensure Kimulifashionability team members become leaders, responsible and accountable for their specific roles.’
Like the case is with other entrepreneurebels featured on this blog, we had a chat with Juliet, and below are her responses to some of our questions. Get inspired!
Your Instagram bio reads ‘made by PWDs in Uganda’ could you please enlighten us on what this means?
“Our sustainable products are hand made by persons with disabilities in Uganda”
What inspired you to start?
I grew up in poverty as an orphan with my single grandmother, in a remote and rural village in Uganda due to the victimization of disability caused to my family. My Grandmother was a tailor and inspired me as a child to use cut-offs and plastic waste, I Would gather from the streets, to produce my own dolls because she could not afford to buy me toys. What others threw away, I started to use as available resources to create something. This changed my mindset towards waste and I started to see the value in protecting the environment. At the age of 20, I founded KimuliFashionability as a sustainable fashion brand to fight for the conservation of the environment and the inclusion of persons with disabilities. We use plastic waste materials to produce fashion and Accessories, which are hand made by our tailors with disabilities, whom we train and Employ to creatively upcycle plastic waste into fashion for beautiful products with a purpose for Awareness about the under-looked global plastic waste crisis. Waste is only waste if you waste it
Why the name Kimulifashionability?
Kimuli is a word from a local language “Luganda” which means “A FLOWER”;
Because we turn what people see as trash into something beautiful like a flower?
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned since you started operating?
- LESSON1: As a social entrepreneur starting small is the right procedure to grow since it helps you to practically learn the market demographics and other business associated challenges: Never wait to raise 10,000 USD to start chasing your vision.
- LESSON2: At the early stages of the business passion is the fuel and the driving engine, therefore, work with people who share similar values and passions. Also, don’t spend your little funds on paying workers, approach qualified people, and ask them to support you as volunteers (it might be 1 hour a week) since you are still testing.
- LESSON3: Your social capital is so vital, always build relationships with people whom you can learn from, give you connections and referrals for your growth and progress.
Other Objectives of Kimulifashionability Include;
- To empower persons with disabilities through training them the skills of Artistic fashion
- To produce artistic African fashion through upcycling of plastic waste hence conserving the environment.
- To boost the self-esteem and positive attitude of persons with disabilities in order to promote self-sustenance and full participation in society.
- To advocate the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all communities and government programs.
- To create empowerment opportunities for Youths and persons with disabilities.
- To create awareness of sustainable waste management in Africa.
Where do you see your business ten years from now?
My vision to see Kimuli Fashionability as the leading Sustainable and Inclusive Eco-fashion label in Africa is what makes me always to explore, dare to challenge, dare to insist, dare to keep pushing and be determined to succeed.
Kimuli Fashionability transforms the plastic waste in Africa into an inclusive Eco-fashion label providing employment opportunities for disabled taillors and youth through turning plastic polythene into durable, sustainable, and waterproof garments and accessories.
“I have a plan in the near future to start a blog inspiring young African entrepreneurs while sharing my real entrepreneurial life on how to run a sustainable social enterprise,” Juliet adds.
Like any other business, I’m sure you’ve had your ups and downs. What keeps you going despite these highs and lows?
It’s the hard work, humility, and constant-creativity, ability to identify opportunities, and utilize them and mostly perseverance and persistence including sleepless nights.
I have also been able to use my story to create impact and built a strong passionate team because “if you want to go first walk alone, but if you want to go far walk with people”.
During this lockdown, how have you been able to address the challenges that surfaced with the COVID-19 situation?
We launched a campaign “For each up-cycled product bought, 50% of the proceeds are used to manufacture reusable, Biodegradable antiviral face-masks which are freely distributed to local market vendors, health workers and other essential service providers in Uganda, and while the COVID-19 pandemic threatens all members of society, persons with disabilities are disproportionately Impacted due to attitudinal, environmental and institutional barriers that are reproduced in the COVID-19 response. After finding out that people with hearing impairments have been left out in line with protective gear, we have developed upcycled masks to enable them to communicate clearly and protect them from COVID-19 Spread.
What message would you chip in for other people out there, the people who would like to start an enterprise of this nature and may be of another kind?
To my other fellow people out there who would wish to start a sustainable business “I urge them to utilize each and every opportunity that comes across their way, through partnerships, networking and hardworking, let them not wait to have lots of money to start, start small and grow big as you learn from failures.
It’s no surprise that grassroots entrepreneurs led organizations are so successful today because as entrepreneurs, we are able to adapt to local needs while mobilizing community members to create positive social change, therefore, I strongly urge all people to raise up from their long-lasted comfort zone challenges to get involved in working together to dismantle barriers, challenge perceptions and improve the lives of women and girls, and save the environment in our various communities.
“Our products are unique, waterproof, eco-friendly, affordable, durable, sustainable, Inclusive and they satisfy their needs.
You can purchase our upcycled garments through our social media platforms currently through in boxing or a call and then we can deliver or ship to any country.” – Juliet concludes.
On social media, find kimulifashionability via