“I have learnt how to respect all people equally and to value them. All people are equal and very useful.”
Amani Kalisa, also known as Amani-K, is a professional fashion designer and female activist. She is not only the founder and director of Amani-K fashion houses in Rwanda, but is also a mother and a teacher. LINDA MBABAZI explores her world of fashion, mother-hood and business.
Has fashion always been your passion?
Yes. I always wanted to be a fashion designer. Ever since I was a child, I used to create styles out of simple fabrics. Later, I realised that it was a talent which I could develop into a career. I ventured into the world of fashion in 2003 and I have enjoyed it ever since.
You now have a new venture, a fashion school. Tell us about it?
The Fashion school started in April 2007, with 20 students, the number has since doubled. There are no specific criterions to be registered, as long as one has the talent, and wishes to develop it.
After successfully attaining a degree in fashion designing, I thought of my fellow women, and how I could support them, especially those interested in this industry.
That’s when I decided to set up a school, which would offer an opportunity for talented Rwandan women to develop their talents and be able to create jobs for themselves.
What one crucial element determines success in business?
Customer care. It’s very important to learn how to handle clients, regardless of their status, nationality, or even age, because the fact remains that they are all clients.
How do you balance your different roles as wife, mother and entrepreneur?
It is not easy, especially when one has a young child who needs a lot of attention. I have learnt that the secret is proper planning and prioritising.
For example, I utilise my mornings to sort out domestic affairs, and then in the afternoons, I attend to my clients both at the store and boutique. But I also have to dash at the school and inspect the progress of the students.
What is the greatest lesson life has taught you?
I have learnt how to respect all people equally and to value them. All people are equal and very useful. Life has also taught me to be patient and ambitious, but to also learn how to collaborate with different people, since we all have different talents. So when we combine the talents, we create many different constructive things which are crucial to our economy.
Describe your personality of style in five words?
Creativity, innovative, superlative, distinctiveness, and trendy.