- perm_identity Terunesh Tafari
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What is your fashion background?
I attended the London College of Fashion (University of Arts) (LCF) and was awarded a Degree in Fashion Management. I decided to enroll at LCF due to the world-renowned tutors that all have
actual experience in the Fashion Industry. I sought a Management Degree specifically related to fashion which would allow me to cater to my creative side, but also instill in the me the disciplines necessary to run a successful business in the sector.
While attending LCF I had a part-time role at Marks and Spencer’s Head Office as a Trends Assistant under the Creative Director, Yasmin Yusuf. There was a lot of competition for this position, but I was determined to get it as I knew what valuable experience it would give me. Following my graduation from LCF, I was recruited by Matches Fashion in their Buying Office, under their head International Buyer, Brigitte Cosgrove. This gave me a broad range of experiences in all aspects of buying including product selection, trend analysis and valuable negotiation skills. Following this, I spent five years at Burberry where I worked with Michele Smith, the Seniour Vice President of Womenswear.
Where did the inspiration to set up Nyuzi come from?
I have long felt there was a significant market for luxury products created by Black Designers. With the current focus on diversity and the general shift in consciousness, especially within the Fashion Industry, I thought this was an ideal time to set up the business. There is a massive gap in the market for a Black, and Black women, owned and run business, operating at the Luxury end and featuring leading Black Designers. Added to that the trend towards sustainability and ethical sourcing, both of which Nyuzi embraces, it felt like everything was coming together and this was the ideal time to get a top-quality team together and set up the business.
What does the name Nyuzi mean?
The word Nyuzi derives from Swahili and means “Thread”. It is not a literal meaning, but something much deeper. It conveys the sense of “everything coming together for our community” - like a thread running through it. The black community has historically been very tribal, and not providing the support to each other that helps other groups to grow and thrive. It is about time we start working together to enrich our community. As people with a Black Heritage, we need to own companies and not just promote companies owned by others. We need to uplift and highlight our own communities and create “end to end” value chains. This will extend the “Black Pound” and improve many aspects of our community.
What does the Nyuzi brand represent to you?
It is about giving young Black Designers a platform to showcase their work on an equal playing field. And not only to their own communities - but to a discerning international community that is seeking quality and can see that quality in the many talented Black Designers. Nyuzi is about showcasing the leading Black Designers, along with some up-and-coming talent, and putting them on the world stage to compete with the best.
Who do you see as the typical Nyuzi customer?
Our demographic is an International Community that is well off and well-travelled, cultured and consider themselves fashion innovators and trendsetters. They are concerned with sustainability and have an interest in the general ecosystems of the Fashion Industry. Their ethnicity does not matter. It is the desire to acquire high quality fashion items that makes them a “Nyuzi woman”.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
We shine a light on Black Talent end-to-end. From our content providers and photographers to our brands and designers. Our team is 90% black. We are not just "selling" Black Culture. We are Black Culture. We want everyone to enjoy what our community has to offer on a global scale. But like our top-end competitors, we are 100% committed to quality.
How do you feel the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has influenced your business plans?
BLM is an important cultural movement. We support it - not only because it has an important message but because it is acting as a driving force and integral starting block for other organizations and movements. Although the BLM movement is important, it is up to us as a Black Community to instigate real change by implementing actionable structural development. And one way to do that is to help to build a successful business.
What is your focus and vision for the next few years? What are your ambitions for Nyuzi?
My ambition is to make Nyuzi both a leading luxury brand and, through our Nyuzi Brands platform, provide opportunities for a range of Black Professionals connected to the Fashion Industry. This means not only designers but the whole support infrastructure. We want Nyuzi to be spoken of in the same breath as the leading French, Italian, British and American brands. No doubt this will be a long journey, as luxury brands are not built overnight, but we want to perform on a par with leading e-commerce sites selling Luxury Fashion on a global scale.
Any Closing thoughts?
I see no reason whatsoever why a business, Black owned and managed by Black Professionals with years of experience in the luxury fashion industry cannot compete on an equal footing with those luxury brands we all know and love. There is a plethora of talented Black Designers, who design for a global audience, but who have lacked reliable and credible access to that market. If I can play a part in solving that issue, and creating a profitable and sustainable Luxury Fashion company, I will consider myself as having achieved one of the goals I have striven for my entire life.