Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Singer strikes the right chord with clothing line

Ms Kosgei shows off one of her designs. PHOTO/ANTHONY OMUYA

Ms Kosgei shows off one of her designs. PHOTO/ANTHONY OMUYA 

By ANTHONY NYONGESA

It started with a desire to make costumes for herself and dancing crew that would suit her music style, besides identifying her with her Kalenjin community, but she did not in her wildest imagination think it would turn out to be a full-time business that has even become a source of livelihood.

It is through this business that the fast rising gospel musician, Emmy Kosgey, has been able to travel to different parts of the world to market the clothes and her music, as well as meet clients.

“Since I sing in Kalenjin, I wanted a brand I could be identified with by my fans here in Kenya and abroad,” says the musician famed for a number of hits among them Taunet Nelel (A new beginning), Kaswech (Hear Us) and Katau Banda (The Start of the Journey).

Just like her songs, the musician’s designs won admiration from fans immediately she started holding her shows. She says demand for the clothes has been souring every day.

A must stop

For lovers of traditional wear, her shop, Emmy’s House of Design on Biashara Street, Dharamshi Building in Nairobi, is a must stop.

“My firm get orders not just from fans who have seen us perform in the outfits but also from those intending to wed here in the country and abroad where I travel regularly,” says the musician who now juggles between music and the business.

Each dress has its own price ranging from between Sh5,000 to Sh10,000.

“We have long and short dresses based on local and West African designs. Local designs are more affordable in comparison to those from West Africa, which we only make on order,” says the musician, whose song ‘Katau Banda’ emerged best song in the traditional category during the Groove Music Awards 2009, held at the KICC, Nairobi, last year.

Ms Kosgei believes that besides singing, her dressing was among the factors that won her accolades among the judges.

How did she begin the business? “Following pressure from my fans to sell them similar clothes, I started designing and sewing more last year,” she says, adding that she began with a capital of Sh100,000.

Depending on the season, the second-born in a family of four says, her company makes between Sh10,000 and Sh20,000 a week. From the music, she makes Sh60,000 from each corporate function and performance she adds.

“My main intention is to spread the gospel, and therefore, don’t charge church performances,” says the musician who held a crowd pulling show in Mwanzo, Eldoret recently.

Even after attending a hospitality course at Utalii College after completing secondary school at Solian Girls in Eldama Ravine, the passion for singing was greater.

Overwhelming

“This opened the door for me because immediately I released Katau Banda in 2005 and posted it on the internet, I got an overwhelming response, with a number of people inviting me for performances,” she says.

Her first performance outside the country was in South Africa where she was invited by Kenyan fans living in Johannesburg, before she went to Dallas in the US.

So, what does it take to do her type of business? “Commitment and professionalism,” she says. “It is by doing quality work that one is able to get a number of clients.”

Having been born and brought up in the rural area of Mserechi, Mogotia District, Ms Kosgei has had a passion for gospel music since her childhood.

“I am from a family with a Christian background and thus participated in school and church choirs while in primary school,” says the businesswoman who got ‘saved’ at a tender age while in Standard Eight in 1995.

When she is not at her business where she is the designer-cum-manager, Ms Kosgei is always in the studio rehearsing songs to recording or out of town engaged in performances.

Currently, she is planning to expand her business by opening regional offices across the country.

“I want to make it easy for my fans and clients to order my clothes instead of travelling all the way to Nairobi,” says the entrepreneur who also runs a school for needy children from her rural home in Kelelwa, Mogotio. The academy is supported by the clothing business.

anyongesa@nation.co.ke

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