Towani Clarke’s fashion brand, Kutowa Designs, is an Afro-chic fashion and accessories label which combines African fabric with modern international styling.
Towani had established a reputation, her client base was expanding and with all the profits being ploughed back in, the company was growing organically. However, her dream was always to take Kutowa beyond national boundaries but that was going to be difficult to finance from organic growth and how exactly would she go about it? That was when Nyamuka Zambia came along.
Towani applied for the competition and at the end of the 6-month process was thrilled to be awarded 3rd prize of K175,000. However she admits that the biggest gain was actually the mentoring and advice she received along the way which helped her construct a strong plan for expansion, support that didn’t end after the competition finished.
So how did she use her prize money? An upgraded web presence was a Kutowa priority and Towani has recently launched an online shop which allows her to meet demand from overseas clients who have been asking for her designs. She has also used her winnings to invest in financial and business systems to help her keep a strong grip on the company.
Since achieving Nyamuka Zambia success, the Kutowa brand has been seen on the catwalks of South Africa and Towani was invited to showcase her collection at London Africa Fashion Week in 2016. CNN’s African Voices series reported on her business success (http://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2016/03/25/african-voices-trendsetters-spc-c.cnn) and the company continues to grow.
Reflecting on the impact Nyamuka Zambia has had on her business, Towani says that it “helped me to join the dots in terms of the concrete steps I need to take to get where I want to go; to expand the business in terms of the production capacity and create the online platform, to take the business beyond the domestic market into the regional and international levels.”
Key success points
- Win K175,000 investment for her business
- Achieved recognition in international markets
- Created online retail portal to meet international demand
- Grew number employed by 50%