"Veryldesigns is not just me, it's the people I work with. It's the models, and it's the creatives we shoot with. It's a whole ecosystem. It's my culture. It's Africa."
SCENES shines a spotlight on youth around the world who are breaking down barriers and creating change. The character-driven short films will inspire and amaze, as these young change-makers tell their remarkable stories.
In the heart of Kampala, a young Ugandan fashion designer is defying the odds and climbing the ladder of international success.
Despite never attending a fashion school, Rachel Bashabe has built a successful business. Her fashion label, Veryldesigns, combines traditional African printed fabric with a contemporary flair.
Rachel told SCENES that she started Veryldesigns to celebrate her country's unique fashion heritage, "The goal I had was, I'm going to showcase modernised African prints. I want to manufacture in Uganda. I wanna show that you can create quality from Africa that goes to the world market."
Veryldesigns embraces slow fashion and only produces a small number of each design, as opposed to mass production typically seen in fast fashion.
"Our main aim is to always think of the environment. We never throw away cut-outs. Sometimes, I even stitch them together to create a random sampling," explains Rachel. "Nothing is wasted in our production line," she says.
Rachel started her career as an accountant but was forced to leave her job due to debilitating health issues. Her doctor told her that she would never be able to hold down a regular job again.
"Endometriosis and fibromyalgia, what I suffer from, are called invisible disabilities. I'm constantly in pain. Sadly, there is no cure," says Rachel. She explains that she went through a period of depression, but she managed to turn her emotions into a source of creativity.
As a hobby, Rachel soon started making clothes for herself and her friends. She received compliments from her community, prompting her sister to suggest setting up a website.
"In the first month, 10,000 people went onto my website. At one point, we had 5000 orders. I didn't expect this demand," says Rachel.
Noticing her unique designs, representatives from prestigious fashion events, such as New York and London Fashion Week, extended invitations for her to exhibit her work. "That was the turning point. That's when we expanded and blew up," recalls Rachel.
"Business is hard, and really, I've been making it up as I go. I create for me, and somehow, the world loves it," Rachel exclaims.
Veryldesigns offers two distinct fashion lines: a ready-to-wear collection and a premium bespoke range. "I always say I want quality because I want you to wear it and know that you are going to look beautiful, you're going to stand out," she says.
'It's a whole ecosystem.'
Rachel takes pride in her accomplishments but attributes a significant share of her success to her team and the solid relationships she has with different creatives in Uganda.
"Veryldesigns is not just me, it's the people I work with. It's the models, and it's the creatives we shoot with. It's a whole ecosystem. It's my culture. It's Africa," she says proudly.
Twesigye Rehemah, a seamstress at Veryldesigns, told SCENES that Rachel takes the lead in selecting the fabric and crafting the designs for the outfits. Working for the designer has given her exposure, and she thoroughly enjoys her craft.
"I get to do what I love most, and the designs have turned out beautifully," says Twesigye.
Flavia Genza is a fashion model and has a fondness for the clothing line. "I liked it because it was playful," she says. "It's designed in an interesting way that's different to what you see out there, and that spoke to me," explains Flavia.
Rachel emphasises that one of her essential leadership skills is being receptive to her team's feedback. She believes being open to receiving constructive criticism is vital in fostering a strong team and building a successful business. "There's beauty in learning. There's beauty in vulnerability. There's beauty in knowing that you don't know it all," she explains.
A formula for success
The young entrepreneur says that establishing a brand is a challenging task. She advises anyone contemplating setting up a business not to cut corners and to do things properly.
Rachel says a blend of passion, effort, and open-mindedness is the formula for success. Despite her accomplishments, Rachel remains grounded, acknowledging that there are many talented individuals in her country, "Now that I've made it, I need to bring my people."
In the near future, Rachel wants to establish a production line to create her prints. The fashion designer aims to employ more Ugandans and collaborate with the multitude of talent that exists in the country. She wants to showcase her culture to the world.