Colombe Ituze Ndutiye has loved drawing from a very young age and was convinced that the career she was going to take would involve a lot of drawing. After trying her hand at drawing a couple of sketches, joining the fashion industry seemed to be the right way forward.
Her brand, INCO ICYUSA, is one of the first fashion brands to be born in Rwanda, offering a range of unisex clothing and cutting edge accessories for both men and women. Her collections combine African traditions and urban lines.
Ndutiye always aims to design collections that fit the needs of all that are involved in the process; that goes from the skilled worker collaborating on the production process to the buyer.
“When I started,I did not really have a clear idea of what and how I wanted to accomplish my dream,” says the talented designer, “I was lucky to be among the few females who were selected to follow an in-country business programme with Peace Through Business (PTB) and when I made it to the finals, I was chosen to follow the leadership session at Northwood University in the United States”, she says.
Her experience equipped her with all the right tools to prosper in her business. Her beautiful collections were then showcased in several East African countries and in North America.
In 2013, Ndutiye was also awarded the Rwanda Fashion/Style Role Model by Diva Awards Afrika.
The following year, she was selected as one of the 6 young fellows from Rwanda to attend an intensive business and entrepreneurship training at the Dartmouth College in New-Hampshire as part of the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI).
After attending YALI, she thought about the messages she wanted to transmit through fashion and realised that it was all about sharing positivity. She wanted her collections to reflect ambition, joy, freedom, and strength.
“I want to give the positive energy back to other women who need a voice to express themselves, to women who already have a voice and need to stand tall and shine, and to men who are supportive of the cause,” she says.
Today, the fashion designer feels proud to see so many Rwandan fashion brands and young talents emerging every day, and fellow Rwandans appreciating locally made fashion for its own value.
“I strongly believe that the future of Rwanda’s fashion scene is very bright and promising, and that it is in our hands to make it happen,” she says.
Colombe never misses a chance to network, expose her work and reach out to a wider market. She is now preparing for Origin Africa, the continent’s largest cotton, textile and apparel trade fair, which will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from the 21st to the 23rd of October.