This year, I had the pleasure of being introduced to the amazing fashion duo – MaFashio. These two Zambian sweethearts (Kayi and Kii) are fashion mavens that transformed their love for blogging into a fashion empire.
Since I met them, Kayi and Kii have been nothing but helpful and supportive to me and I am so excited that they agreed to this interview.
– Who/What is MaFashio? Tell me about yourselves
Well we are sisters who love fashion and we started blogging in 2012. Kayi studied economics and finance in school and Kii is currently in law school with a background in computer science. However, we always had an art background because our father is an artist and our mother used to make clothing – so it runs in the family.
When we began MaFashio, we did not know that what we were doing was called blogging – we just wanted an online platform where we could post pictures of well-dressed people we saw on the streets. At the time, we didn’t even know we were doing street style photography! We just wanted to let people know they looked good and we wanted to show what people were wearing on the streets of Lusaka. We wanted to share Zambian street fashion and be a part of telling Zambia’s fashion story.
– How has MaFashio evolved?
As we said, we started without really knowing what we were doing. However, we were one day contacted by the famous photographer, Gareth Bentley, who called us up and invited us for coffee. Gareth helped us understand the world of blogging and gave us tips on branding our website.
With time, our street style photography gave us buzz in Zambia. We started getting invited to fashion events to take pictures and blog. Our blog brought the Zambian fashion industry together because, at the time, no one was really taking such pictures and putting the fashion events out there. The blog also helped to introduce the fashion industry to others in Zambia and got more people to take the industry seriously.
By 2013, we incorporated the company and the administrative load increased. MaFashio became an actual business and we had more administrative responsibilities that we had to incorporate into our work. Our blog became even more popular at this time because of all the events we covered. Incorporating MaFashio and formalizing it as a business gave us more validity in corporate world and this is very important to any blogger or person in fashion who wants to make business deals. We allowed MaFashio to grow and evolve. We went beyond taking street style pictures to covering events, styling clients, becoming makeup artists, getting endorsement deals and others.
– How do you balance your love for blogging with the brand that MaFashio has now become?
It is hard. We don’t publish blog posts as often as we did before because of all the other responsibilities that have come with the business. We don’t have it all down to a science yet. We just try to prioritize important activities.
– How has the Zambian fashion industry changed since you started in 2012?
It has grown. Really. More people have embraced their uniqueness and diversity in style and this shows that the people themselves are growing. Also, there are more bloggers now and people take fashion more seriously. In fact we always tell designers that; they need to take the fashion business seriously if they want to grow.
– What is your favorite part of what you do as influencers?
Kayi: I love creating the systems and processes that hold down the business. I love coming up with new concepts for our business and also love meeting strange and interesting people. Since we started we have met so many different characters!
Kii: I really love working with the different brands.
– What are the administrative things that people take for granted when it comes to running a fashion blog/business?
When it comes to blogging, people tend to forget that others are watching. They forget to check grammar, the layout and theme of the website etc. But all those things are important if you want to be taken seriously as a business. People and companies may be watching and you could miss out on opportunities if you don’t present yourself properly online. For instance, some of the brands we have worked with loved the fact that we used good grammar and weren’t vulgar on our blog. That is one of the things that led to us working with them. (this is a major key right here! 🔑🔑🔑)
– Seeing as MaFashio has grown beyond blogging, do you now have any employees or assistants?
Yes we have interns. Our team of interns helps us on set with campaigns and other jobs. We also have accountancy and legal support.
– How would each of you describe your personal style?
Kii: I’m kind of a tomboy. I love to wear ripped jeans and sneakers. But at the same time I also love flowy dresses.
Kayi: Bohemian looks… Fifties pin-up girl… Cinched waists.
– What do you think is the main problem stifling Africa’s fashion industry?
There is more than one problem. First of all, there is the perception that fashion is for fun. In Zambia some people still don’t believe fashion can actually make you money. There is also the problem of infrastructure. There are so many creative people but no infrastructure to support designers. And then there is also the problem of lack of training and skilled labor. In order to change all this, there needs to be a mindset change. That’s why we’re excited about initiatives like the African Development Banks’ ‘Fashionomics’ platform, that brings to the fore the multi-dimensional nature of fashion, and of course, it’s economic benefits.
– Any advice for fashion bloggers?
Engage with your audience. Know what they love and which platforms they love to use and then make sure you are actively engaging with them on those platforms.
– What can we expect from MaFashio in the future?
We hope to dabble in retail this year and hope to launch this in 2017.