Teta Isibo, 28, the founder of Inzuki Designs, a local company specialising in African inspired jewelry, accessories and interior décor, is an indomitable woman.
Born in Nairobi but raised up in Uganda, the third born in a family of six (including a twin sister) returned with her family to Rwanda in 1996, where she completed her secondary school at Green Hills Academy. She then went to the United Kingdom to pursue a Bachelors of Science degree.
Born to the late Alex Mutimirwa and Marie Isibo, she started her business with the aim of exporting Rwandan products. “Rwandan design has come of age and today locally made Rwandan products have an aesthetic that can compete in global markets,” she says.
The fiercely talented designer didn’t think she would join the fashion world. “As a child I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do but I was always interested in anything creative and always had an eye for design. In high school, I did sciences at A-level and graduated from university with a Bachelor of Science. I worked in urban planning and the land sector for five years and still do some consultancies in that field. In retrospect I’m not surprised at all that I ended up in the creative industry,” Teta says.
“I am doing something that I chose to do, something I am passionate about and naturally good at. To me, that’s a blessing because many people go through life with no idea of what they want to do, or if they have the idea, they simply do not have the courage to do it! The decision to open my own store was radical, but I have not regretted it even once. I have a clear vision of what I want to accomplish and this is what drives me every single day”, she continued.
While some people might call her crazy for leaving a cushy government job to join the private sector, she doesn’t regret it for one second.
“As my own boss, I have to be disciplined in order to achieve the goals I set for myself. I don’t have a husband or kids, so it’s easy to make my work my main priority. I don’t really have the conventional 9-5 office job, I’m still in the early stages of developing my business so I don’t have the luxury of having strict ‘office hours’ yet. If I have work pending I will do it, it doesn’t matter what time or day it is”.
In most cases when one switches careers, they face several challenges. However, Teta chose to look beyond the teething issues she experiences, believing them to be opportunities. Now, in the short amount of time Inzuki Designs has been in existence it’s been able to showcase and sell a number of its products in places, such as Girl Hub and K-lab.
She is obviously a go-getter; something she believes that any woman can be, despite the challenges they face. “Why do we always dwell on the challenges? I think that Rwandan women have a lot of opportunities. We have equal rights to land, education and employment. I am not saying that there are no challenges but we tend to focus too much on them while the opportunities are right there staring us in the face. The men come and grab those opportunities while we are too busy complaining about the challenges”, she explains.
To Rwandan women, she urges “Never stifle your dreams and aspirations; if they don’t scare you, they are not big enough. Also please don’t use red eye pencil, it rarely works for anyone”.
So, does she have a significant other? “Can we change the topic? Let’s discuss the weather instead; it’s been raining like crazy”, she laughs.
With her hectic career routine –always up and about meeting different stakeholders - it is almost impossible to imagine that this talented and independent young woman has anytime for herself.
But, family is family, and no matter how busy she gets, she always makes time for family and friends. She also enjoys reading and in her own words, she has watched way too many series!
She loves working out and jumpstarts her day by going to the gym first thing in the morning. Trow in the fact that she also takes a 12km walk with her girls once a week and you have a picture of the 21st Century Rwandan woman.