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newtimes - 24 days ago

19-year-old on pursuing his dream in fashion

Steffa Dusenge was a fashion model but had dreams of becoming a fashion designer. He hence decided to start a designing company. At the age 19, he owns a company ‘High Kingdom’ (HIIGHK) which makes bracelets. His pieces are mostly made out of rocks and stones. His company designs quality women and men’s bracelets that are fashionable and affordable, and he currently has three collections in eight different looks. These bracelets, whose prices range from Rwf 15,000 to Rwf 30,000, are made out of stone beads like lava stone, marbles, amazonite, lapis lazuli, amethyst, turquoise, which are imported from countries like Denmark while others are obtained locally from Musanze in volcano rocks. How he started  According to him, fashion is not about gimmicks or necessarily looking good, but rather about telling your story and expressing what makes you unique.  Some of the bracelets he makes. Photos/courtesy One way of doing that is through the smaller things you wear – accessories. This is what partly made him venture into this business, he says. Starting out in 2019, Dusenge says the journey wasn’t too rosy, considering he didn’t have enough money and no equipment either. But he never buried his dream nonetheless. Since he had the skills (which he got from his elder sister), he sought all means to make his idea work. He could rent machines from different companies that were already established by then. On a day, he was charged between Rwf 2,000 to Rwf 3,000 for one machine. By 2020, he had made enough savings and was able to buy a machine from China.  At that moment, his worry was mostly reaching the right market and gaining trust from his customers. Challenges Dusenge says, though he was young, energetic, with a burning desire to start his own business, he wasn’t well-prepared for what it was going to cost him. “You know how they say entrepreneurs must do whatever it takes to make their business succeed? Well, as much as I would love to agree, I quickly decided that the whole getting up at 7:00 Am to design and deliver a bracelet wasn’t really my cup of tea. With my naiveté, I dived headfirst into everything, for instance e- commerce-buying raw materials, taking care of customers, insurance, accounting, product photography, and so much more,” he states. He however, through experience, and a spirit of believing in himself was able to cope and overcome.  Although his business is still small, it sustains him and has also been able to employ five workers.  He says with marketing, he maximises social media where he showcases photos of his work, “So far, the feedback is positive from my followers. I am anticipating my company to have picked up in the next three years.” His advice to fellow youth is that, when they put their minds to something, even when they don’t have the necessary equipment, they should stand firm and believe for victory, noting that even Rome wasn’t built in one day. Giving back  Dusenge came up with the idea of giving 10 per cent of his income per bracelet to charity in 2020 after seeing how Covid-19 had affected the lives of people, where some lost their jobs and couldn’t get enough money to feed themselves and their families. He gives to the poor in different villages of Kigali where he goes through the heads-of-cells to identify the right people that need support. Dusenge’s firm (High Kingdom) is a brand inspired by the pre-colonial kingdom in Rwanda, as the ‘high’ comes from superiority and good acts from the kings and queens that were part of the empire. According to him, HIIGHK is a symbol of righteousness that reflects doing good deeds for one’s self and others. He believes that positive actions can transform lives, inspire confidence, and unity.  That is why he deems it important to give back to the deprived with the little he earns, believing that it can give hope to the hopeless. Dusenge uses ‘hilghk’ for his social media.

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