Career & Money
Anita Beryl Talks Dressing Malaika Nnyanzi and What it Takes to Make it in Fashion
Welcome to a new series ‘Fashion At Work’, where we talk to people earning a living in the fashion industry in Uganda, how they are thriving at what they do and the challenges there-in. Fashion is a fast-growing industry offering a wide range of employment opportunities to Ugandans. Fashion At Work is highlighting some of the talented Ugandans working in it.
This week we talked to the designer of the moment, Anita Beryl. She’s a fashion designer and couturier behind the brand, Beryl Qouture by Anita Beryl. The brand’s mission is basically to make clients look elegant and has been in the business since 2011. Anita Beryl’s high profile clientele includes Flavia Tumusiime, Malaika Nnyanzi and Kenyan fashion journalist Carol Odero among others.
When did you realize you wanted to work in fashion?
From an early age, I was driven by my good eye for beautiful and very fashionable things. And knew that I would find my landing in the fashion world. And a fashion designer is exactly what I set out to be.
Where do you draw your inspiration?
Inspiration is drawn from different things. It’s not zeroed down to one thing. It could be anything, from a sad moment, happy moment, a movie you have watched, it could be travel, nature. What matters is what it directs you to create. Sometimes, you can’t choose where to draw inspiration from; depending on what you are working on.
You did amazing at the UEA awards winning an award and also dressing a number of celebrities. How was the experience for you?
UEA awards was very amazing, I must say preparations were really hectic but I’m glad I managed to pull them off and very successfully too. Winning the most outstanding fashion designer award was the crown of it all, I didn’t see that coming one bit, the experience is very humbling, and you almost feel like God is just being way too kind.
It was even more humbling receiving phone calls from different celebrities before the day asking about how I can help them with wardrobe. I knew then, that these people had faith in me to make them look their best on that red carpet, and that comes with a lot of pressure. I’m not one to shy away from a good challenge, so I took it on and I’m glad it was successful.
You designed Malaika Nnyanzi’s red carpet gown, one of the best creations on the red carpet that evening. Tell us about how you came up with the design.
Malaika Nyanzi is pretty much every designer’s dream client, her personality is just the main source of inspiration. She’s very vibrant, sweet, gorgeous and classy. When you spend 10 minutes with her, you could have a full 20 piece collection.
For her red carpet moment she wanted to feel like a princess and grand in a very simple way. So I found so much joy working with that kind of inspiration. All I needed was to perfect the details, she’s a perfectionist in every sense of the word. It took me some time to think of all the details but once I was done with that, the rest was done in 2 days.
What are your thoughts on red carpet fashion and how it’s impacting (or is set to impact) the design industry in Uganda.
The Red carpet is my favorite part of this entire game, its impact is quite crucial in every designer’s world. In Uganda, people have stepped up their game, our fashionistas really make an effort and invest so much in how the look on the red carpet. This pushes the designers as well because you know that when your work is out there, it’s your brand at stake, you’ve got to step up and put your best out there.
I can safely say that it’s already pushing our fashion designers to work harder, and get more creative which can only better our fashion industry.
How do you balance working with fashion and bridal clients? Do you have a favorite?
I don’t have a favorite. A client is a client. Bridal client or fashion client, there is no difference. They all get the same service, and attention.
You’ve showcased at a number of international fashion weeks, when do you feel you’ll be ready to make the brand available on the international market?
The brand is already available to the international market. If you visit our website, www.berylqouture.com, you will be able to access our products from whichever part of the world you are in. We do ship clients’ orders to all parts of the world. So we’re always accessing the international market.
Have you harnessed the power of social media to take your brand to another level?
Definitely. We are very much active on social media, and 20% of our clientele is accessed through social media. We are very active on Facebook (Beryl qouture by Anita Beryl), Twitter(@BerylQouture), and Instagram(@BerylQouture).
What factors have contributed to the success of your brand since you started?
Before everything else, it is God’s Grace. Then maintaining a high-quality standard for our products. Keeping time and commitment when it comes to clients’ orders. That has helped us maintain trust with our clients.
Then being consistent with our brand has also been very crucial in the success we have attained thus far. We also make sure that for everything we do, we give it our all till we achieve perfection. That helps you grow, keep in touch with your clients and you have more income coming in, eventually being able to run our business.
What does it take to make it in fashion?
It takes patience, hard work, passion, and love. Otherwise, you may not even last two weeks in this business.
What’s your average day like?
I wake up in the morning at 6:30am. Different days have different schedules. I either start with work or church. Then I head to work, and have morning meetings. Then the rest of the day is with my clients; either for fittings, or clearing orders and working on whatever could be pending. All of that ends at about 7pm. After that, it’s home time.
What challenges have you faced working in fashion?
The first would be getting good fabrics, especially at a good cost, since the fairly priced ones aren’t that good. And this makes it impossible for us to get clients clothes that are averagely priced.
Shop Beryl Qouture by Anita Beryl’s new collection online here.
This interview has been edited and condensed.