From An IT manager to an African Print Diva- Meet Lucy John Lusaku

By Willy Nkya
  African Print Fabric, or Kitenge , is a traditional waxed cotton fabric worn across Africa that comes in a vast range of vibrant colors and designs. Reflecting both the cultures and aesthetics of Africa, truly you can find an African Print Fabric to suit any project       
     In understanding these signature African fabrics, I managed to visit a Kitenge shop ,located in sinza kijiweni  Dar es salaam just opposite  PUMA petrol station. Lucy John Lusaku the rightful owner of Lucie African shop is an independent and confident young lady ,who sells original kitenge fabrics from Congo Kinshasa and Bukavu textiles. Apart from just selling the fabrics Lucy also designs these fabulous African prints and leaves her customers wanting more and more. Lucy is a 2015 graduate from the Institute of Finance Management holding a Bachelor degree in  Computer science and former Miss IFM 2014. Her love for fashion began way back as she was growing up , and studying in Dar gave her a chance to become a model and an aspiring emerging designer. After the tragic loss of her father in early 2017, Lucy had to quit her Job as an IT assistant
manager and moved back home in Kigoma to assist her Mother in the family business that is the Kitenge Business. It is by then Lucy realized her passion for African fabrics (Vitenge) as it has been a business that has paid off their bills since childhood till to date. She learned a lot from her mother about the kitenge business and came back to Dar to start her own shop ,and  she says,ever since she started, there is a brighter future ahead .

Types of Vitenge(African print Fabrics)
Lucy sells different types of vitenge, mostly depending on the colors and the prints of the fabric.In choosing the fabrics she chooses the prints that can be easily  defined ,example flowers that reflect the reality. The common types of vitenge that she has is 1) Metrage 2 . Veeco 3.Vlisco 4.Masco 5.Orientar  6. Java 7. Gold star Wax  all these fabrics are 100% cotton and they are eye-catching

Setbacks of the kitenge business
Lucy:  “The kitenge business has been a business that has been done by so many people in Tanzania, so there is a stiff competition in this kind of business, but what disappoints me is that some competitors are downgrading this type of business by selling poor quality(fake)vitenge . This puts a bad word out there for people like us doing such a business. Also as I said earlier ,I do also design for my customers,but some customers are reluctant to receive advice from a professional like me upon the choice of kitenge and the suitable design, and at the end of the day they choose the type that doesn’t suit their skin tone and body in general. Lastly I think customers should stop comparing high quality fabrics to the low quality ones especially those sold in cheap prices ,and should consider the fact that “Not all that glitters is gold””

Marketing strategies
Lucy: “I mainly use social media like Instagram, Facebook,twitter and snapchat ,this has helped me expand my market as I get orders from people in different places in and outside Tanzania. Also my good friends are part of my marketing team ,just by word of mouth  to their friends. However, I prefer using mass media ,and recently I did an interview with Africaswahili Tv about my store as well”

   How to distinguish original and fake kitenge fabrics
Lucy: “Since I have been in the business for a while now ,I can tell a fake kitenge from a mile away, but among the simple ways are as follows:
·         Weight
     An original Kitenge weighs more than a fake one,if you have bought several vitenges just try to see if they weigh the same .
·         Color shouting
    Most of the fake or the poor quality vitenge have brighter colors compared to the original one and if you wash this fabric ,the color wears off so fast. Thus, remember the fabrics that shouts in terms of color is likely to be fake
·         Texture
    Each type of kitenge has its own texture ,its important to know the texture of the type of kitenge you want to buy ,for a person who is new to these fabrics its hard to tell the texture as people might mislead you. the best thing you can do is go with someone who has a much better experience in such kind of fabrics

Lucy believes that her designs and fabrics are state of the art ,and she brings something new to the kitenge business in Tanzania. She strives to make her customers feel new again especially when they wear one of her great fabrics. And she looks forward to promote African fashion and taking Tanzania to the next level .

Well there you have it..In case you want to learn more and maybe see for yourself these brilliant African fabrics, you can reach Lucy on Instagram @lucie_African,Facebook (Luciane John) and Twitter @lucie_John or call +255719443439. And guess what! She has a 20% discount,so in case you are wondering on a Christmas gift these fabrics could be a good idea.



Post a Comment