With more people embracing fashion, the need to have accustome-made designer outfits is growing daily.
It is because of this need that Malawi has seen a rise in the number of designers catering for local fashion enthusiasts.
Local designer Betty Annie Njolo, who owns Betty Beauty Wear, says the fashion industry has potential not only to dress local fashionistas, but also export to other countries..
She said: “I think fashion is now the in-thing and people need modern designs in these modern days. Social media has also influenced people’s choices and that give us designers a lot of work to do.”
Njolo said since she came into the industry, she has grown and perfected her art by learning from established designers.
“I improve my designs by learning from others. Lily Alfonso also inspires me,” she said.
Njolo, who is mainly into formal wear, engagement outfits, bridal attires and sometimes traditional attires, said she ensures that she designs outfits which help her retain customers.
The youthful designer also sources and sells fabrics to people with various needs.
Njolo says designing is lucrative as people need to wear designs which end up on social media.
“Malawians are good customers. They pay what is worth the designs they want,” she said.
Njolo, who has two tailors and a sales assistant, said when business is good she produces 50 designs in a month.
Her clientele comprises mostly Blantyre and Lilongwe residents who she meets and connects through her social media page.
On observations that many local designers lack originality, Njolo said that observation is not true.
“Mainly, we do what our clients want. At times they come with a photo of something they saw and liked and we do as asked. But overall, I come up with plenty new designs. I sketch them on a piece of paper then transfer the dream on fabrics,” she said.
Njolo added that her design studio is famed for being unique because she tries to be original in her designs.
“We are called to be unique and we have our own taste of fashion. We add some taste to what the customers need,” she said.
Njolo admitted that currently there is a crop of designers who promise a lot to customers, but fail to deliver.
“Many times when work is overwhelming, I usually tell customers I won’t deliver on the day they need, but if I fail to deliver in time I make sure I recover the lost time and resources which is rare because we try our best,” she said.
Random interviews on social media, where Njolo advertises her designs, indicate, that she is trusted for her timely delivery and accurate outcomes of designs.
Mary Ganya said: “Her designs are unique in that she does both modern and traditional outfits. She knows what she is doing.”
Apart from being a self-taught designer, Njolo is a civil servant and entrepreneur. She started her designing journey in 2017.