Bevern Oguk is the Co-founder of Co-Be Nairobi. Co-Be Nairobi is a #madeinkibera brand offering made to measure, ready to wear and accessories. Their main style is modern, minimal and chic, with athleisure as their specialty.
Their accessory line channels their ethical brand ethos working with Kibera artisans, and using natural materials like brass, bone and wood.
Why the creative industry?
I have always been a creative for as long as I can remember. I am an artist first and foremost, and fashion was just an avenue to express myself.
The other reason is because I believe most of the problems we are facing as humanity can be solved simply by creative design and critical thinking.
Do you keep up with the trends in the industry?
Not like that. I’d say I am influenced by things around me: music, pop culture, technology, art, people… So that way, we are absent come up with fresh, timeless and exciting designs.
Why the leap into entrepreneurship?
I like asking questions. Most importantly, I am a problem solver. I believe we are put here to make the world a better place. With all its challenges, entrepreneurship gives great satisfaction and all round progress that cannot be found elsewhere.
How are you paying it forward/ how do you encourage youth in the industry?
We have this program that we are part of. We go around high schools on their career days, just take them the understanding that fashion is actually a respectable career and the returns are equally good. We are also rolling out a mentorship program for these youths when they finish school and are keen on a career in the creative industry.
Do you think there is enough government support to the industry?
Not yet. But it’s our fault. We don’t speak in one voice, we aren’t united. This makes it hard for the government to notice us.
It is very hard for the government to listen to 2 or 3 people. We need to show them our books, our returns, how big we are. And we can only do that if we unite and speak in one voice.
Who is your mentor and is it important to have one?
My mentor is Akinyi Odongo of Akinyi Odongo Kenya (AOK). We have formed a creative initiative called Fashion Agenda Africa with Akinyi as the patron. The initiative is in Botswana, Kenya and soon to launch in other regions.
It is very important to have a mentor who guides you and sees the potential sometimes you don’t see yourself.
Advice to other creatives?
Be authentic, the market knows and appreciates an authentic brand. Focus on building a good product, great team, and an innovative process.
Find their products at www.co-be.co.ke