Sewing a Legacy | David Avido

David is a community activist, public speaker, and mentor.


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David Avido (KFW) [EP.65]

[00:00:00] David Avido: I showed it to him and he was so impressed. He asked me what more I was doing, I told him, and he told me that he felt like I was too much involved with a lot of stuff, and if I wanted to grow, I needed to choose the thing that gives me peace and the thing that I find purpose in it.

[00:00:12] [Ident]: [Afrika Design Ident]

[00:00:15] Adrian Jankowiak: David, welcome. Thanks so much for joining me. And we'll start with a question we really like to ask, which is... what was the meaning or reason behind your name? That can be personal and brand as well.

[00:00:27] David Avido: My name is David Avido and the term David Avido means growing up together with the people around you, lifting each other to greatness.

[00:00:34] So that is what the term Avido means, growing together with people around you to greatness.

[00:00:38] Adrian Jankowiak: Nice. And what about your personal names? Do you want to give insight into that?

[00:00:43] David Avido: Yeah, my personal name is like David Ochieng and Ochieng means I was born when the sunlight was up.

[00:00:48] So the sunlight around and stuff that shines all over me and the people around me when we move around. Yeah.

[00:00:56] Adrian Jankowiak: Nice. And do you feel that's a reflection of you as well? Your name?

[00:01:00] David Avido: Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes I normally do because doing fashion and finding myself, I was looking for something that have purpose and how can I be able, like, you know, to be purposeful around.

[00:01:10] And I think sometimes my name kind of guides me a lot and pushes me to do the things that I want to do and not to recognize limits around me in whichever way.

[00:01:19] Adrian Jankowiak: So, how did you start? What inspired you as a kid then? Because you've always been a creative, not just fashion. So, where did your beginnings come from as a creative?

[00:01:30] David Avido: When I was young, I was like, you know, so much focused into soccer and I was like believing that Soccer is what's gonna, you know, pay the bills and, you know, help me to get up for myself and my family. But that dream went out when I dropped out of school and I was really good in school, actually.

[00:01:44] Like, I remember, like, I was so good in math, so at some point I used to feel like I wanted to be an electrical engineer. Especially maths, I was so dope into it but since my mum didn't have enough money to sustain my education in school, I had to drop out, because, you know, the schools in Kenya, yeah, like, you have to pay school fees as if you're paying rent for them to allow you in the school compound.

[00:02:06] So, I dropped out of school when I was 11 years old, and that's when my dreams for being an electrical engineer shattered and also being like a, you know, professional footballer also shattered because football is what used to pay my school fees until I was 11 years old. And at that time the scholarship was pulled out with the guys that were sponsoring the football team I was playing for. Being a designer, I think this is just like something that, you know, I never thought that it was supposed to be anybody's career or anything because anybody can do anything out there, you know, being raised in a community like Kibera, you're just involved in doing everything that is around you.

[00:02:37] So we end up like, you know, doing everything around without knowing this is the thing that you're going to be like not to focus in life. For me to decide like to focus into fashion, I had already done lots of stuff. I did, like, you know, rapping for, like, almost a year or two. I did spoken word.

[00:02:51] I was dancing a lot. At first, spoken word is what helped me through spoken word because I was going through a lot of challenges at the time and when I dropped out of school, like, you know, 60 to 70 percent of my friends were killed. Most of them were into crime, others mistaken identity.

[00:03:07] Mistaken identity is like wherever I get involved in crime and then I run away. Then the vigilante or the police they come and find you, torture you until they kill you, trying to find me. So, I was afraid of creating friends at the time, so that's why I started, like, you know, doing spoken word because I didn't know it was spoken word at the time.

[00:03:22] I just knew that if you want to get things off your chest, you need to speak about them, and I didn't know who to talk to. So I was, like, talking to myself, and then it turned out I was actually doing poetry in some way. Because I ended up performing it a couple of times to people.

[00:03:35] Just, like, you know, narrating all my story and stuff to people. People were like, oh, this is poetry, this is spoken word, and that's how I learned it. So, spoken word helped me to accept myself. And then now I was like, looking for like, alibis. People that I can spend time with in case any of my other friends is caught out there into crime.

[00:03:51] I mean, nobody comes to me to ask me questions or anything. So, I was looking for an alibi of people that I could spend time with and stuff. So that's how I ended up, like, into, like, a dancing group. Then I danced for a while. And I would say, like, dance helped me to express myself. Because for you to be a dancer, you have to smile, engage with the crowd when you're performing to them, learning the dance moves and stuff.

[00:04:11] But after around two years, I felt like the alibi was not enough, because most of my dance mates were all in school. And then me, I was just like out there still like doing different stuff. So I did like, you know, kickboxing, did marathon for a while. And I even have a couple of few dancehall songs that I wrote that I used to perform to people.

[00:04:29] And there is a time whereby like, I was now like, you know, looking for who can I spend more time with because still my dance mates were like in school from Monday to Friday from 6 a. m. in the morning up to like 5. 30 or 6 in the evening. So you are only meeting for like one hour for training each and every other day.

[00:04:45] So all these other almost like, you know, 11 hours I'm spending alone and something could still happen to me. So as I like, you know, doing sketching ideas for dance costume when we were going for, like, competitions like Zakata and different dance competition and performances around, so we didn't like, you know, costumes for them and we didn't have people that could give us, like, you know, better costumes, so we started, like, you know, sketching costume ideas for the team and then that's when we started, like, you know, looking for tailors that could help us to make it work.

[00:05:14] The tailors, they would do like amazing work, but most of the time, whenever we would dance with the costume, they would cheer up. So, whereby they were making pieces of outfit that you can just wear on a day to day normal life, but not the ones that you can dance well with it. So, it needed like, you know, to be more stretchy and stuff.

[00:05:29] So, I started like, you know, spending time with the tailor to like, see what is going wrong, how are things happening. And then I realized like, they were better alibi even, because... Like, I would spend time with them from, like, you know, 6 a. m. in the morning to 7 in the evening. And I would just, like, help them to iron their pants, help them to buy thread, bring it back to them, deliver to them. Their outfits, go into the market and bring new fabric for them and stuff.

[00:05:51] After two years, spending time with them, I knew how to sew, but... I didn't take it as a big deal. And I was not like looking up to be like a designer or a tailor, I was just like, you know, doing it because I feel like that was something that was just okay. And normal day skills.

[00:06:05] Adrian Jankowiak: Yeah. Okay. So you gained a lot of experience from people and then what pushed you from making clothes for your friends, for the dance crew, what pushed you into further developing your understanding of fashion and of tailoring?

[00:06:20] David Avido: I remember like I had a couple of guys around that were like, you know, motivating me.

[00:06:24] The guy that really helped me a lot, his name was like Jaffa the Chimp, because from dancing I got my first sewing machine through him whereby, like, I was given the sewing machine with, like, the former member of parliament the late Kenneth Okoth, and the machine came through Imran and Jaffa the Chimp, and when I got the sewing machine, I could not even, like, you know, use it in whatever way because I didn't have a space of how I could sew with it. At the time I was just like involved in so many things. And every time we used to go and dance, we could get paid like 5, 000 Kenyan shillings. And we are like almost 16 people in the dance group. So sharing the money in between, you just end up going back home with 50 shillings.

[00:06:58] So I remember like the first ever time I remember like I made an outfit for Don Carlos, who's like a reggae artist from Jamaica. He has come to Kenya to perform in KICC. It was brought in Kibera so that he could see like places around and because they normally say like Jamaica is just like, you know, Kenya and some part of the streets in Kibera looks just like Jamaica and stuff.

[00:07:15] So he was around the community seeing the things around and that's when I was like enough to get a shirt for him. And when I made a shirt for him, he performed with it at KICC, and then later on I got the opportunity to go and meet him in his hotel, and then we were able, like, you know, to talk in depth about what I was doing, so I told him, like, I was so much into dance and doing reggae and dancehall music, because I had a couple of songs that I showed it to him and he was so impressed. He asked me what more I was doing, I told him, and he told me that he felt like I was too much involved with a lot of stuff, and if I wanted to grow.

[00:07:46] I needed to choose the thing that gives me peace and the thing that I find purpose in it. And on top of it... He paid me like $300 for, you know, the shirt that I'd made for him. I felt like I was so rich. I'd never like, you know, holded money like that, like $300. I was like, oh my God. Went back home, like, I was just like thinking, like, you know, wondering, like, you know, piece of shirt, $300.

[00:08:06] We've been dancing every day, like, I go home with 50 shillings, 100 shillings. What am I supposed to do? Okay. So if I'm going to focus on something, what am I going to focus on? And I started asking myself questions and I did not want to rush into a conclusion whereby like I'm like, I'm going to dance or I'm going to keep on doing music or I'm going to keep on doing kickboxing, marathon or continue like, you know, seeing the tailors because I didn't have a place to sew you and I didn't see myself as a designer at the time.

[00:08:32] So when I say like, you know, asking myself like. What am I going to do that is going to be like the thing that I want to be again now and at least find a dream that I can live the dream now. I started asking myself, like my younger self, like, you know, what would my younger self want? Because at that time I was now turning around like 19.

[00:08:50] I spent like around like 9 years in the street just trying to find myself getting involved in different things and, you know, got lucky to be alive until that time. So I started asking myself, like, you know, the reason why I was not an engineer, the reason why I was not like any in school, because I wanted to be like an engineer and I couldn't be anymore because I didn't have no educational background.

[00:09:07] And then I got to a conclusion that the reason why I was going through the circumstances that I was into is because my mom didn't have, like, you know, a good job that could sustain us and take us to school in one way or the other. And when that happened, I was like, if I'm gonna do anything, I'm gonna do something that can make my younger self feel alright with and find peace in it. So I thought of like, you know, should I continue kickboxing? But I was like, if I do kickboxing, how am I going to help other women like my mom out there to support themselves through kickboxing? It's not possible. So I thought about like, you know, dancing. I'm like, why would I train women to dance?

[00:09:41] Because I'm not even earning from it. But maybe if I train them how to sew. At least they can gain the skill and they can get hired because all women like will not want to go out there and to be hired as maybe like, you know, security guys because of they know karate or, or maybe like, you know, they can sing and stuff.

[00:09:56] I mean, it's not easy at that time. So I feel like maybe through sewing, it will be easy for them maybe like, you know, to get opportunities whereby they're being hired and stuff. So, I decided to focus on fashion. I took fashion, like, for one entire year. Like, you know, not thinking about any other thing. I stopped doing kickboxing.

[00:10:12] Stopped writing music. Stopped doing marathon. I was just, like, you know, dancing part time to put my body in shape and also did not want to ditch my dance crew just like that. So, I kept on, like, you know, like, having, like, at least two, three days for training for one hour together with them. And then, the other times, I was just doing more stuff about sewing and stuff.

[00:10:28] Gaining information about fashion and at that time when I first started, like, you know, making clothes, my main motivation was like, you know, to show people that also good clothes could come from place like Kibera because we used to go to different competitions and people were like, look, are these outfits?

[00:10:43] Like, where are you guys from? You're from Kibera. They would judge us because they had the stigma of like, if you come from places like Kibera. We are associated with like, you know, drug abuse, crime, prostitution. So, most of the time, I just wanted to show people that also good clothes can come from a place like Kibera and be worn worldwide.

[00:10:56] And I had already made like an outfit now for Don Carlos and felt like, you know, making more outfits. And then I ended up like, you know, making outfits for almost the whole of Jamaican artists. And most of them ended up, like, you know, becoming my friends and we're in a position whereby, like, we can exchange words and I could learn from their story. What led them to be musicians and why they were doing music and how they feel doing music.

[00:11:16] And I started putting those simple thoughts and I started, like, you know, learning and understanding, like, you know, the purpose of doing what you really want to do and how much it can give you peace when you do the right thing. That's how I actually, like, you know, started, like, you know, learning more stuff about my inner self.

[00:11:30] Adrian Jankowiak: And it's really good that you found that value that you could provide that you could create something in Kibra and it would provide value to others. How was that first year and the time after it as well from the time where you managed to sell that first shirt and you realized you can have higher value items to actually making that happen?

[00:11:52] What was the journey like in trying to get more customers, you know, in a local market as well in Kenya. Do you keep making dance outfits or whether other clients and other approaches that you were taking as well?

[00:12:05] David Avido: So at the time, like I remember like I used to see you the whole night at first, like when I was given my first sewing machine, I didn't have like another space.

[00:12:12] I used to say with my mom and our house just used to have like my mom's bed, one chair that I would sleep on. And then my other siblings, they could sleep down and my sister could sleep on my mom. So my sewing machine, I had to put it outside the house and I used to tie it to the dog chain and the house was made out of like, you know, iron sheet.

[00:12:30] So I made like a small hole where the chain could pass and when I'm sleeping at night, I could hold it up. So in case like, you know somebody trying to steal it, I could hear the scratches from the iron sheet. Then I can start screaming like, hey, that's my machine and stuff. So it was like really tough.

[00:12:43] And that's when Ochieng like, you know, came to visit me. He was like our mentor during the time we were dancing but somehow like, you know, getting like the motivation from him and him inspiring us, like, you know, how to be different in terms of dancing and stuff. Him himself, he was not a dancer, but he was like a community leader. I remember like when he came to visit me and my mom at some time he saw the situation we were in and then he was like, David, why don't you just come and stay with me? I'll give you like a one room. Because his kids were like in a boarding school at the time.

[00:13:08] So he was like, when my kids are in boarding school, like you can use their room and when they're back we can sort something out. So I used to sew in his house, like the whole night. I'm just sewing the whole night sewing in the morning hours. I used to see from like nine o'clock.

[00:13:21] All the way to 5.30 a.M And then I start sleeping from that time. I start sleeping from 5. 30 a. m. until like 11. Then when I wake up at 11, take a shower. I start doing like my deliveries around. Then after doing the deliveries around until around like, you know 3. Then I can take like some time to rest or maybe go for training for one hour with my dance team.

[00:13:41] Then after that I take new orders. Then I continue sewing again from nine. So it was just like back to back, the same thing for like one year. And after that one year, I'd worked with like, you know, Chronixx, Alaine, Ce'cile, Bruno Mars.

[00:13:53] I made an outfit for Bruno Mars, and then after that, I was invited for the Berlin Fashion Week. So I went to the Berlin Fashion Week, and when I went to Berlin Fashion Week, that's when now when I, when I first took the plane to there, I just like, I was like, I'm going to press space and, you know, delete everything that I have on my mind, because now I felt like I was now going to learn from the creatives that actually now understands fashion and stuff and then see what they normally do.

[00:14:15] But when I reached at the Berlin Fashion Week, I saw some of the offers that they had, like my, my work was even like more better than theirs. Like I had like even better quality in so many situations. And it impressed me and it gave me the motivation of like, you know, even loving myself more and accepting myself more.

[00:14:32] So I learned all the things that they were talking about, like, you know, sustainability on their end and what sustainability was and what they were aiming as designers and things like that. So when I came back to Kenya. My mindset was different. I mean, I was just like, you know, inspired to better myself and better the people around me because most people were like, you know, trying to work hard to go to places like, you know, Berlin, you know, other like France, you know, New York, but now I had the mindset of like, why don't I find a way to make our place to be also like Berlin or New York.

[00:15:02] Whereby we can bring people and see the beauty of what we have here rather than just like aiming to go out there because there was nothing new there. Because actually, we had gone through so much struggles without having resources and stuff, but our work was even better than some of the designers there.

[00:15:17] Even some of the designers there, they were saying that some of their outfits were being made in Africa and then they would be shipped to there. And some were saying that their work, most of their work is being done in places like Bangladesh or China. And when I look back at myself, I'm like...

[00:15:30] I make everything in my own place, like the only thing that I'm lacking is like better sewing machines. So, whereby like this sewing machine, I'm only getting them maybe like from Makina market from other tailors, whereby I can use to do the other work. So, when I came back home, I was just like now investing on myself, understanding how I wanted to do stuff different and how I wanted to grow from there.

[00:15:49] Adrian Jankowiak: Were there any moments for you like that one in Berlin, perhaps, as developing your style as a fashion designer that they really clicked for you, maybe moved you to another level in terms of finding yourself and what you're creating?

[00:16:04] David Avido: Yeah, by being there and seeing like the quality of work that they had and some of the quality of the work that I had, and they had better sewing machines than I did. It really made me feel so proud because I got to realize that the only thing that we don't have here in the community, is the resources and the opportunities to express our work out there.

[00:16:22] I got back home, I was like, I didn't have like, you know, the interest of trying to go and prove myself anywhere else or do any other things out there. But I only had the interest of like educating people around me in the community and making them understand what is out there because the more you keep on traveling, the more you understand cultures and the more you understand cultures, the more you will love your culture more because it inspires you to be like a better person from where you come from.

[00:16:46] Adrian Jankowiak: Yeah, and that takes us nicely into Kibera Fashion Week as well. Where did this idea for Kibera Fashion Week stem from? And, you know, maybe you've kind of gone into it when you were just saying in terms of pride and wanting to bring people here.

[00:17:02] So how did that all start moving?

[00:17:05] David Avido: So before the idea of Kibera Fashion Week I mean, like, you know, I've been supporting, like, lots of people in my community, like I normally, like, you know, train lots of women how to sew and, you know, just for them to earn a skill and then after that they can be hired with people out there, like, you know, companies or designers to... they can earn a living from it.

[00:17:22] And then aside from, like, you know training women and guys around, I also like been paying school fees for a couple of students in primary school and high school, so I have like 10 kids that I sponsor. Five of them are in primary and then five of them are in high school right now. And then I normally basically make like, you know, school uniform for different students in school. I normally just like go to the school as long as you're performing well. And you wanna be in school, I normally just like, you know, take your measurements and go and buy, like, you know, school uniform fabric, then I make it for you and then I give it back and your school uniform because I believe, like, you know, school uniform can boost the self esteem of a student.

[00:17:55] So from that situation, I felt like I was only able, like, you know, to support the people that maybe I can help them with money or maybe, like, you know, fund something that they are doing or things like that. But I felt like, what about the people that maybe I cannot be able to help? Like, maybe people that don't want to be designers, or people that maybe just want to be models, or just want to be creative and move on.

[00:18:16] How can I be able, like, you know, to inspire them and make them understand better things? That's how the idea of Kibera Fashion Week came because most of the time I used to see like, let's say, people that are involved, let's say blacksmith around the community. You find like they have their kids and most of their kids doesn't even respect what they're doing and that is all like, you know, bring foods to the table.

[00:18:35] So you find like their kids just posting, you know, in TikTok about like maybe big cars or big restaurants and stuff. And for them to be able to post this kind of stuff or to do this kind of thing, they need people that can fund them with money. And that's when they end up like, you know, into things like having sugar daddies or sugar mummies and stuff. And aside from that if I like, you know, some parents whereby they see their kids let's say involving themselves in things like modeling or being into design they start thinking that maybe that is prostitution or things like that because we've never like, have this kind of things in the community and the only fashion shows that we've known we've just been seeing them on the beauty pageants when we are seeing like, you know, the soap operas from films around and stuff. And none of us from the community had like a role model that we could look up to and say that I want to be like this person and that person to just guide the right way.

[00:19:21] For me like the role models that I used to have when I was young were into football because at that time I was playing soccer and most of them, like, you know, were shot dead. Others were, you know, killed in the streets and stuff. So if you have like role models like that, you know, you end up being sad for the rest of your life, it becomes so tough and it becomes crazy.

[00:19:39] And if we're going to be able to do Kibera Fashion, like at least we'll be able to educate people. Not only in our community, but also people let's say in India, Bangladesh, also people let's say in Mathare, Kawangware. Yeah, all over the world because everybody around the world, they just need a sign of hope that directs them to do what they want to do.

[00:19:59] It doesn't have to be like only through fashion, but through any other creative way of just like bringing people together, educating them and giving them the spirit of pushing to who they want to be and how they want to be in life.

[00:20:11] Adrian Jankowiak: So, then how does Kibera Fashion Week look? How does it work? And yes, how has it come together?

[00:20:19] We've just had the second one now.

[00:20:21] David Avido: So yeah, the first one happened like last year. It was like around November. So, yeah, so It wasn't actually supposed to happen last year, just like, you know, we forced issues to make it work because I remember when we were like, you know, doing towards it when we got the grant from European space of culture.

[00:20:35] Now we joined forces together, like Nairobi Design Week and also like Maasai Mbili to be able like to make it work. So we were able to unlock the money from the grant that we had applied and the money was just supposed to help us to have a better office and we were like, yo, guys, let's just do something with this. Let's just do, like, a small fashion week, if we win the grant or we don't get the grant, we did something with the money that came from it. And that's how the first one came. And it was so simple. And we wanted to be also, like, very realistic.

[00:21:02] So that's why we used, like, the railway line as the runway. So we wanted, like, you know, just to be like as lively as possible and having the blacksmiths around to bank on the lights when the models are walking in between and the railway line was like a live one whereby like, you know the train could pass so we'll get out of it the rail tracks and then the train would pass and then they go back into it and it was so dope. And the turnout at the time was really amazing and we got so much inspired from that and now the insight even became more better. And you know, we are in a position now when we were learning how to do a better fashion will come from it because normally like when you have like, you know, fashion shows, like even the turnout normally it's not big, like, you know, look around the world, like most of the turnout for fashion shows will find like maybe like around 100 or 200 or 300 people and that is it.

[00:21:47] But the fashion show that we had for last year, we had a turnout for like almost 400 to 500 people, which was crazy. And now the one that we did this the other day, the turnout was like almost 7, 000 people. You can imagine how crazy it was.

[00:21:59] For it, we want Kibera fashion to be like more educational so that we can because when people speak about like sustainability into fashion and just like sustainability as a whole, when you go to Europe or US or UK, sustainability is not the same thing that it is there and the same thing that it is back here.

[00:22:15] I feel like I want to be in a position whereby like, I don't just want to feel like we are being educated in a situation whereby people doesn't really know where we are coming from. We want to educate them about ourselves before we are told like we're supposed to follow these guidelines or follow that guideline because like right now, all the designers in the country, as much as like everybody's pushing to be like 100 percent sustainable.

[00:22:37] It is hard for all of us to be, like, sustainable because we don't have a dumping site for ourselves. Let's say, what about the clothes that maybe we make, the collection that we make that we cannot sell them? Where do we take them? And we cannot always, like, remake those outfits. We need to make, like, new ones.

[00:22:51] Where do we dump them? Because in Europe and UK and US, they easily just donate them back here and say it's a donation. That's how they get to dump back to us. But for us, they cannot do the same. So it becomes like really tough to be like a hundred percent sustainable because now we don't even have our own farms whereby we grow, let's say things like cottons to like, you know, to invest them and, you know, make them to be like a hundred percent sustainable.

[00:23:14] So like all these stuff about like, you know, sustainability, just like really, really, really hard and it needs like so much talk and we need to be like fully transparent in so many ways because I went to Europe, like four months ago. I did tour to like different countries, like almost like 22 countries and I met like so many designers and most of them, their work is just made in Bangladesh and China.

[00:23:33] For them, it's easy to be sustainable because they are not growing the fabric themselves also. They're just like waiting for it to be done somewhere else and then it is shipped to them and then. It's easy to be sustainable in a house whereby you are not disposing anything out. So, for us, I think it's really hard for the talk of sustainability and I also believe that nobody can be 100% sustainable because it's just like saying that you are 100 percent perfect.

[00:23:58] Nobody's perfect in the world.

[00:24:00] Adrian Jankowiak: Yeah. And there's kind of the material sustainability of what we're using to make. And there's also the social sustainability and the business sustainability of things. Right. And that's always trying to balance those two things. Yeah.

[00:24:15] David Avido: Which is tough. Like for me, I would say the type of sustainability that maybe like I focus so much into is like, you know, the social one, whereby like, you know, educate the women around at least to help them find jobs and stuff. The economic one whereby like, after they've learned the skill, at least I can introduce them to people that can hire them and give them jobs.

[00:24:31] So for me, I feel like, you know, that is like economic sustainability and also social sustainability. But now, when it comes to like things like, let's say, maybe like environmental sustainability, I can never be like 100 percent into that because coming from Kibera, like this is among the most highest polluted area in the world.

[00:24:47] So saying that I'm like 100 percent sustainable from this kind of position like that is total lies because first of all, I need the support from the government to come and help us to create like, you know, like, you know, better sewer lines, you know, create like, you know, better dumping site and things like that.

[00:25:00] So me saying that I'm gonna invest in that, that doesn't really make sense because I don't have the capability or the manpower to do that. It's only the government that have that.

[00:25:09] Adrian Jankowiak: Obviously, there were so many people involved, models, designers and so many other people. So congratulations to everyone. I just wanted for us to talk more about maybe some of those collections that integrated that sustainability of particular interest and some of the unique things that people can see when they look at Kibera Fashion Week's runway.

[00:25:30] David Avido: Yeah. Most of the unique things that people should expect to see more is like allowing these designers to be themselves, like, you know, to own their creativity 100%. And also another thing that we are happy about, like, none of the designers was like, you know, pushed to do any collection, like.

[00:25:45] They were given like, you know, proper, proper education on how to create a collection and how to create your artwork and how to express yourself because we have different workshops making them learn how to do, like, you know, photography and to tell a story about their work and also Nairobi design also like help us like have another like workshop whereby they educated the designers on how to create like a proper creation for your work or a collection that you want to make, depending on the stage and how to tell your story better from your craft and how to be like a better person from it.

[00:26:15] And also, we also like, you know, did like some other workshops with Anne to understand how to run a business and how do you like to know how like a company's run? Sandstorm taught them that and how can you be like not to be to be relevant for over 30 years like that's like running your own business. It was like more educational and it was not just about them making the collection because you wanted them to gain a hundred times better than just like, you know, bringing their collection for it.

[00:26:41] So each of the designers like had their own topics that they were, you know, expressing themselves through. Some of them were expressing their emotions, their feelings and how they feel about the work they do and how they feel about themselves and how they see themselves continue doing the work that they are doing.

[00:26:55] So, it was like more educational and free for everybody to understand and learn how to make it work, and on top of it, also like, you know, the pushing the agenda of like, you know, designers are supposed to be paid when they getting themselves involved with any showcasing of their work.

[00:27:08] Because you can imagine, like, for a designer to make their own collection to come to a certain show, they have to pay the tailors, they have to, you know, get the money to buy the fabrics, and on top of it, all coming to do like a fashion show and still you don't get paid. And people say it's marketing of your work.

[00:27:22] For me, I think it's not really worth it because it takes a lot from the designer and it crushes the designer because sometimes you find like, you know, designers, they leave that place hoping that maybe after one month or two months or three months, they'll get some plan from the work, but they end up not getting.

[00:27:37] And they may be invested like over maybe like a hundred thousand just for a certain collection. So I believe they are supposed to be paid because this is work. It takes a lot of the things that they have to do to be part of the work that they do.

[00:27:49] Adrian Jankowiak: Yeah. And it's also important to have that surrounding infrastructure, right?

[00:27:54] Because photographers, models, stylists, and all the other people who contribute to making your work shine.

[00:28:00] David Avido: Yeah.

[00:28:01] Adrian Jankowiak: The layout, because this year, you know, last year you said we had the railway this year as well was a very interesting layer.

[00:28:09] David Avido: Yeah, the layout for this year like we wanted like the models to work on top of the matatu.

[00:28:14] I remember the first time like when the idea came it was like unrealistic to the team. I remember Diana was like saying, David...How is that possible? How are you going to do that? That was like, yeah, it is realistic. The moment we start thinking about it, then it's going to be like more realistic and then we can find ways.

[00:28:28] And, you know, we kept on thinking and then the idea was introduced to the whole team. And now we are now like, you know, finding ways on how to make it work. And I remember like, after we discussed some of the ideas, the next thing was... how can we be like more cautious enough? Because for me, I believe like if I have partners onboard and we're working with partners, I have to take care of the partner.

[00:28:47] So they are like, you know, comfortable with the work that they're getting themselves involved into and how they're going to work. So the first before that we approached, we approached like, you know Nairobi University, the architectural department to help us to create the bridge between the matatus if the matatus are parked together.

[00:29:01] And then after that, we went to like an architectural firm to get our work to be like approved that it is like doable because if we do something and then maybe we have an accident or something happens like, you know, the government can come up to us that we're endangering people's life and stuff.

[00:29:16] So we made sure like, you know, the work was approved. The firm is called like the Boogertman. It's in Westlands. Then after they had ideas, they were really nice. They were happy with it. And they even send a couple of few of the architectures on the day of the event come and see and make sure the way the work was being like staged and the way it was being put was right.

[00:29:34] So they did the measurement and then they were there for like at least two hours then they left, which was like really inspiring, you know, like just having like a small idea from the community to be able to pull all these people together to come and to be part of like the project. And after that, we also like approached the Red Cross guys.

[00:29:50] In case we have an accident, they could help us, let's say, with a first aid and maybe, like, you know, an ambulance to take us to a hospital as soon as possible. So it was really dope and everybody that was hearing the idea was just, like, you know, believing in it and everybody just wanted to be part of it.

[00:30:04] Like, so many people wanted to be part of it, but we didn't know how to be able to be able, like, to balance it and stuff. But at the end of the day, like, I believe, like, we had the right team, the right partners who were able, like, you know, to make the work to be so smooth and make the planning of the event to be better and made us look to the bigger picture when we were doing the event.

[00:30:20] Adrian Jankowiak: For sure. Yeah. And there was a lot of contributions from many. Also, you've got other things surrounding the fashion week, such as the documentary, which is premiered, which told the story of last year, and now you're documenting further as well. Right?

[00:30:34] David Avido: Yeah, for last year we did a documentary which was like around like 40 minutes and this year also we did another documentary still like under edits right now so we're gonna be having it as like a series kind of thing and we don't want to post it onto YouTube yet because our main goal is to like to have it on Netflix. So on Netflix if you have a series they say like you know they take at least like nine episodes so we're trying to see what we can do to do if we keep on pushing sooner or later, then we're going to have the old documentary that will be like once speaking about like the creatives that were part of the project and how the creatives have played a big role to be part of it and how they can also like be able like, you know, to build their career from it and grow from it.

[00:31:10] Adrian Jankowiak: Yeah. It's really good to track that progress. Really brilliant.

[00:31:14] David Avido: True, true. Yeah.

[00:31:15] Adrian Jankowiak: So, what's next for Kibera fashion week and for the community as well? Where's it?

[00:31:22] David Avido: I mean, like right now our main goal is just like, you know, the way people have like Paris Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week, now we want to create our own better and bigger because after the one that we did the other day, like we were in communication with a couple of you, like, you know, journalists from London, New York, Paris and there was so much interested like, you know how we did it and then we did it during the time whereby it was just like after London Fashion Week had happened and now Paris Fashion Week was on the set and Lagos Fashion Week was on the set and New York Fashion Week had also like happened so we were under the radar and they were able like you know to see what we were doing and they were so impressed because yesterday I was looking at how many articles that we were in and I realized like we were like in 46 international like you know Magazines like, you know, from the UK. In the UK, we are around four. In Paris, we were like in around seven. Germany, like around six. In Mexico, in US or... it went so big to a point whereby we had a couple of few conversations with also like BBC London and BBC Africa, and they were so much interested and they're also like, you know, waiting to see what else we're gonna be doing.

[00:32:22] And for we just like, you know, trying to balance ourselves, put ourselves in a position how we can like, you know, to do it more better. We are now on top five fashion weeks in Africa.

[00:32:32] So Lagos is the first one. Then there's another one from Senegal. And then us, we were like number four, number five. I don't remember which people, but we were number four as like, you know, among the best fashion weeks that happened. Number three was Joburg. So we were after Joburg fashion. So you can imagine that this is our second time.

[00:32:49] And now we are being put in that kind of position. So it means like we have lots of, you know that is gonna happen in the future.

[00:32:56] Adrian Jankowiak: For sure. Yeah. That's why we're all shouting, because people need to see this. Everyone is unique. And this is really one of the most interesting fashion weeks people can come to.

[00:33:07] For sure.

[00:33:07] David Avido: A hundred percent. They're not going to see a basic runway from us. They're always going to be seeing, like, you know, great kind of runners. And we're going to be speaking about our stories, like infrastructure, and how we live in more and better ways.

[00:33:19] So we want to inspire them and inspire the whole world and make them see. You know, what's like, you know, our communities like, you know, based on what we can do and how the power of like coming together with people around you and partnering people can build a community and build individuals and inspire people to be better people in the world.

[00:33:36] Adrian Jankowiak: Have you got any message you'd like to leave or a question for the community or for myself?

[00:33:41] David Avido: I normally just tell people that, you know, whatever you do, whatever way you do it, don't be in a hurry to achieve success and forget your happiness on the road. Because if you do that, you'll always try to track back where you left your happiness, but you'll never get it.

[00:33:53] So you'll never have peace for the entire life that you might be having ahead. So just be easy. Work with people and you know, find a way to live a better way. Don't aim for too much success and forget to be happy. Be happy sometimes, and it's good to be lazy sometimes because it helps you to build up to be who you want to be and how you want to be, because that is like how you charge yourself.

[00:34:14] Adrian Jankowiak: For sure. And that's really important to remember. You're a mentor and an inspiration to many people, and that's something good to leave on as well, because we need to keep remembering to have fun and enjoying ourselves, right? Yeah.

[00:34:28] David Avido: Yeah. True, true. Thank you so much for this opportunity to be part of this recording and to have this conversation.

[00:34:34] Adrian Jankowiak: Thank you too, man. Good to finally get this recorded. Very excited for what comes next from Kibera Fashion Week. Congratulations to everyone.

[00:34:43] David Avido: Thank you so much. Congratulations too for being part of it.

[00:34:46] Adrian Jankowiak: Thank you. Yeah. We're so happy to be a part of it. We'll support how we can. And we're really proud of what everyone's doing and we're really proud to be a part of it.

[00:34:55] David Avido: Thank you. Cheers.

This week, we delve into a narrative of perseverance, tenacity, and optimism. Our guest is David Avido, a seasoned professional in the fashion industry, excelling in tailoring, fashion styling, pattern making, teaching, and business consultancy. Beyond his role as a fashion expert, David is a community activist, public speaker, and mentor.

He is the visionary behind Lookslike Avido fashion brand, The Avido Foundation, and the Kibera Fashion Week, garnering significant recognition in Nairobi, Kenya.

His portfolio includes creating garments for notable figures such as President Uhuru Kenyatta, and international artists like Koffee, Chronixx, Nasty C, Ty Dolla Sign, among others. David unfolds his personal journey, narrating how he triumphed over social and financial obstacles through hard work, preparation, and maintaining a positive outlook in the face of adversity. Join us for an inspiring conversation and glean insights from his remarkable path.

Episode Credits

Produced by Nairobi Design

HostAdrian Jankowiak

Producer, Shorts & Artwork: David King'ori

Music: Ngalah Oreyo (@ngalah_oreyo) and Mercy Barno (@merc.b_)