Art has been part of me for as long as I can remember. One might say, I never truly outgrew my crayons. I spent my days sketching, shading, and drawing. I studied fine art at both levels of my secondary school. My mother is a tailor and she like most mothers, let me play with offcuts from her client's fabric, out of which I clothed my little dolls when I was a child. I guess she didn't realize she was drawing me into the fashion world. Fashion and design are my safe spaces, they allow me to explore and express myself. My creative background allows me to sprinkle an urban touch to African fabric and blend two otherwise divergent fashion worlds. Fashion after all is blind to color, creed, and geographical location and that's precisely why our creations are able to sell across borders.
Elizabeth Atuhura, 29, Kampala
I did not ever think I had a bone of creativity in me; fashion was the last thing I had in mind. But all this changed, when in 2018 I joined the Mbabazi family, which took me in and helped me on my path of self-discovery. You know what is odd, I was hired to prepare meals and yet I find myself part of and partial to the tailoring workshop. I am a single mother and all I was trying to do was survive, not get hooked. I made my first dress, unaided in 2019 and when a client walked in and bought it, I was blown beyond count. It was at that moment that I started to believe in myself and my self-doubt slowly withered away. I love patch skirts because they are made from otherwise useless pieces of cute fabric. They remind me that every single one of us is valuable and has a role to play in life.
Justine Nantume, 31, Kampala
When I dropped out of school in 2016 after my lower secondary, I was at a loss on what to do with myself till the community at Mbabazi House of Style came calling. I remember the day I joined Mbabazi like it was yesterday. I started out raw; my cuts were terrible, my sewing, even worse. I have only gotten better through trial and error and watching and learning from the people at Mbabazi. I delight every time anyone, clients or colleagues, compliment my work. I am proud of my modest work for it gives me deep satisfaction to know I am creating value. I find I am drawn to maternity skirts. I love how freely maternity dresses fit. They are perfect for sunny days too. Every time I earn some income, I am quick to send a portion of it back home so my little brother can go to school.
Lydia Kansliime, 24, Kampala
Words have always been my strongest attribute. I joined the Mbabazi sisterhood because I believed I could put my words to good use and improve sales here. When I joined the team in 2016, all I did was manage sales. But you see, no one does sales without appreciating the products one is attempting to sell. I paid more attention to what the tailors were doing down at the workshop. It wasn't long before I picked interest in the production process. I wanted to be part of the creation process and not just a salesperson. I wanted to belong. Isn't that what we all desire, a place where we belong? Everyone here is part of everything, ours is a wholesome unit bound by strings of co-dependence; we know we need each other. Tailoring for me is not only a vocation; it is how I cope with my difficult days. All I need is fabric and thread and my troubles vanish like smoke. I put my heart and soul into everything I create because that is the only way to achieve perfection.
The M8115 dress is a beauty. It especially looks good on plus size women like me. I float in the air when I wear it.
Winnie Nantege, 29, Kampala