Francis Iraguha’s first shoulder brush with fame was when he featured in the video of Shanel’s Ndarota.
“Every time I left the house, someone commented about the way I dressed in the video and my friends always told me I had great style. Later, I decided to take the compliments to another level and do something about a talent I clearly had.”
“I opened a second hand clothes shop and most of my clients were people I was already acquainted with and others who’d heard about my incredible eye for fashion,” he says.
Francis studied at St Famillie Primary School and later attended APRED Ndera for his secondary education. He is yet to start his online University studies in the United Kingdom.
“I saved up some money from selling the second hand clothes to buy material for brand new attire. My boutique was originally called “Guess Who” but I wasn’t satisfied and looked for something with more individuality to it, bringing to life, Zahabu Francis.”
“Many people think everything sold in stores is in vogue or of good quality and to be honest, fashion is still new to Rwanda.”
“People started buying my clothes but my dream was to go beyond individuals and so I ventured into making uniforms for different companies as desired by the client. Many youngsters avoided my clothes thinking they were for the elderly. I learned to satisfy my customers’ needs by mixing fabric and material, making attire for various occasions.”
“Some clients come with their own designs and we help them bring them to life but I like to make my own designs and sell them.”
The business is promising because people are beginning to change their mind set about home made products. “Some people think that the smart thing to do is to buy already made clothes from abroad and not waste time with local fabric, but that is so wrong.”
“Getting raw materials is still a big challenge in Rwanda because they are still imported from other countries and the burden is that the last consumer always gets the worst deal as sales are made according to prior buyers.”
“My simple request to whoever concerned when allocating the budget is to consider our sector because the country is losing its grip on tradition and culture and everything we Rwandans should be proud to call our own.”
His dream is to see more designers come up in Rwanda like it is done elsewhere in the world. But he insists that they should use the available Rwandan fabric at their disposal as nothing beats originality and authenticity.
“My customer base has increased because I actually talk to them and find out what they like and dislike. It’s not just about selling clothes. We share thoughts and they make me a better designer by the day.”
Rwanda is a country where people fear the unknown; risk takers are limited. Many still think clothes that have crossed seas and oceans are still the best. They believe Italy, France and New York are some of the best places to get these clothes. True maybe, but Francis dreams of Rwandan fabric on the runway, he dreams of models from our very nation on the runways of fashion shows across the globe, giving the likes of Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace and Ralph Lauren a run for their money! He dreams of being Rwanda’s equivalent to these fashion heavyweights.