Exclusive Fashion Interview With Founder of Ngiri giri Bags Suzanna Haller
Ngiri-giri bags are handmade, using local material from leather, cotton canvas and locally made traditional cotton material, called kanga, creating bright, long-lasting and totally individual bags in a variety of styles and sizes. Each Ngiri-giri bag is unique!
When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
Ngirigiri was launched in 2010 with the vision of creating and sustaining employment in Mombasa Kenya.
Whats your background?
I moved back to Africa as a teacher in 1998 to teach at the international school in Mombasa. After being born in Nairobi I always knew I would return to Africa at some point. Meeting, then marring my Swiss husband we went on to have our 3 sons here in Africa, and Africa was home once more.
My love for design and desire to engage in the community, I started working along side a disabled workshop where my visions came to life and Ngirigiri was born. In 2018 we set up our own workshop still with the focus on disability. I am hugely proud to be where we are today. Fashion with humanity, touching lives, is what we are all about.
How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
We have just set up our own workshop in a local village, which is very exciting! Raff, who is my workshop manager No 1. He has worked with me for the last 10 years. His roll is the production and quality of the work, he works on all new designs and concepts with me and together we produce the look and feel that we are after.
Joy; has just come on board. Locally trained in tailoring she is now in charge of all the cutting of the patterns of the bags. The ethos behind Ngirgiri is to train up all our team to be able to cover all areas in the workshop.
Harold; Has been working as a tailor for many years. His roll in the workshop is the finishing and stitching of the bags. Every bag is hand made and we believe in high quality.
And then there is ME!
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
Starting my own work shop this year has been empowering as well as overwhelming at times, so much to learn in a very short time. You need to be committed to your ideas, designs and have a splash of passion in what you are producing, this will pull you through the ever changing world we are living in. I am hugely grateful for the journey I am on.
What is the hardest lesson you have faced since you started the company?
Don’t mix friendship with business.
Tell us one piece of advice you would give to anyone else setting a small business:
Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. And smile, it will all work out. Maybe not the way you thought, but the way it is meant to!
2020 is almost here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
So many exciting projects ahead. We are have launch our online shopping sight, giving us the opportunity to reach a wider platform of our clients.
2020 will see us collaborate with a new brand that is about to launch. Watch this space, very exciting times for us.
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
Everything has been a milestone for us this year, with so many new beginnings. Taking our brand to London & Dubai in 2017/18 has been amazing.
I think for me it was receiving an email from a husband who had spotted one of our bags in Dallas Texas airport and knew his wife would just love one.
He did something he had never done before and asked the lady where she had bought it. He then contacted us and bought his wife one of our bags.
He then wrote and told us just how thrilled she was and how glad he was to have found his nerve. That for me was a highlight.
Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
Mombasa, my home town!
Being bold and authentic, with that touch of class.
Best thing about London to you?
The vibe. I love being in London.
Statement shoe or statement bag?
Statement bag every time!
Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
Be very careful of who you step on, on your way up. As you will meet them on your way down! Given to me by my very wise Father. His words of wisdom have kept my feet very firmly on the ground. Hugely grateful to have him in my life!
Where can people find out more? (website/social media) www.ngirigiri.com
Some great collection from Ngiri giri Bags check out their online shop here www.ngirigiri.com
Content courtesy of Ngiri giri bags & Nairobi Fashion Hub