That is the answer that I got at the Collective Rw fashion press conference, hosted at the Innovation Village in Kigali.

Collective rw press conference1

collective rw press conference 3

The Collective RW is this group of fashion designers in Kigali who decided to put their effort together in order to showcase their creations on the runway. It’s like fashion week basically, but created by the designers themselves and not a fashion council.

The conference speakers were a group of these really interesting African fashion voices: Diana Opoti, Leanne Tlhagoaone, Shaldon Kopman, Lulama Wolf and Trevor Stuurman.

collective rw press conference 2

The talk i got to attend to was the one held by Leanne,Lulama, and Trevor.
Personally, I was dying to see Lulama. She is this badass South African documenter/blogger. I saw her instagram account and i was like, you’re right on my street (insert a dance emoji).
Of course, i was so inspired by her that i did an illustration of her, which she was super kind to repost on her Instagram account (ahem ahem new followers gained ahem ahem).
She is basically an Instagram celebrity with over 60k of followers (like whaaaaaat???–Yes i knooow).
Being a minimalist person, her account is just heaven for me,since she is the queen of soft and minimal.
But what I love about her the most is that she is an African, living in Africa but thinking globally. Basically, she is not an African cliché. Her feed has an international look, while retaining its African authenticity.

I have to stop fangirling. I basically was fangirling all the time at the event.  Do you know how awkward it gets when fangirling over someone younger than you? Well, that’s how I felt when I learnt she was 23??!!! I was like ‘’Omg get your life together Christella!”
She was so sweet and humble alongside her cute co-speaker Trevor, who is also a huge documenter but with a maximalist style, but nonetheless they get along like hand and glove! They both are part of these fashion trailblazers, who are globalizing Africa through their creativity.
So, as an African myself, who found herself starting a blog in a small room in Kigali, my question (with some kind of frustration, because let’s face it, having spent a long time abroad, I’m not happy facing the not so small ‘’limits’’ when it comes to blogging in Africa), was how to keep up with international bloggers? How not to be left behind? How do they damn do it?

Their collective answer was basically (allow me to paraphrase):  stay authentic. Use what you have. Use the elements in your space. Globalize the place you are in right now. Trevor even went to say that before coming here, he had to look up some information about Kigali, but couldn’t find anything relevant. So, there it was my answer. You’re a blogger in Kigali? Make Kigali known to the world. Inform others through your creativity and blog about your place.

I also got an answer from Leanne, who was hosting the talk, and she only said this to me, (try picturing Oprah here, giving her best piece of adviceJ : < You are enough!> and guys, I f**** wanted to cry, like oh God, what are you so good to me? (Picture the Michael Jordan meme).
I think I have to keep remembering this, every time I’m faced with limits and hesitations on this journey.

Fast forward, after the conference, I got to talk to Lulama and she asked about some of my illustrations that she is going to print back in SA (South Africa). How cool is that? How more awesome can this chick be?
Well, after that I quietly left, because I’m super awkward at socializing, when it’s a lot of people I don’t know. And this is the exact opposite of what a blogger should do. Sigh!
But anyways, I have a secret technique (not so secret anymore…). Before leaving, I place myself in a corner where I know everyone is going to pass by eventually, and guess what? I am able to have a last word with everyone. No pressure….

Ps1: I couldn’t take pictures, as I can’t really multitask, but some people do. So, the pictures here were taken by this super beautiful creative and talented fashion spirit named Michaella. (I think she deserves a post and you’ll discover her in the coming days).

Ps2: Links that might be useful to understand the fashion world in Rwanda.
Inzuki designs
Haute Baso
Sonia Mugabo
House of Tayo


Christella Bijou


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