“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
I am scared, feeling a little different because of this particular piece. It’s always been me sharing a part of my world in my own way. So, you will understand why today I am feeling different: I am taking a walk through someone’s world and telling their story in a way that I hope will be best for all of us.
On this first Metamorphosis post, we feature the story of a guy (first male feature on the blog) who has been to rock bottom but kept his head held high and now uses the much he has to make the world a better place. I know him through a friend. Our first formal conversation was a request to help with photographing his suit collection that goes by the brand name: LaGiacca
The first question am burning to ask him is whether he is married or not. He has this golden ring that you will notice after his smile. Plus for the unmarried kind like me, no ring goes unnoticed.
“Are you married?”
“Then what’s with the ring on your finger?”
“It’s a gift from a client”
“Are you sure you are not married? I am asking for my readers ”
“No, I am not”
So, dear readers, here goes an eligible bachelor with a ring that was a gift from a client!
Mr. Dennis Kaweru
How was life before everything changed, before quitting your ‘normal’ Job?
I was a banker for four years, starting off as a clerk and rising through the ranks to become a trade and corporate specialist at Standard Chartered Bank. In my portfolio, I dealt with high-profile and sensitive clients in six countries across Africa. Living my dream and earning more than enough to keep me going, this burning desire to start my own business kept gnawing at me.
What have been some of your toughest moments so far?
I once suffered from depression! A seemingly good deal went sour and under, I ended up losing all my investment. Here is the thing, I started a motorcycle spare parts shop on the side with my mother and also joined an investment group, which I later quit. The members’ rigidity, bureaucracy and slow implementation of projects did not go well with me.
Then in 2012, I tried to make more money on the side through an oil refining deal. The venture went bust leading to loses of Ksh4.9 million. We had to close the spare parts shop because we were left in huge debts. I lost millions and owed people amounts to the tune of Ksh700,000.
“And here my heart breaks when my Matatu fare is not refunded or die a million deaths when I forget it”
The heavy blow left me suffering from depression and was hospitalized for a week.
Fortunately, I was able to take a bank loan to pay the debts and cover my bills for the next two months. Slowly, I began picking up my pieces.
Biggest lesson from the loss?
Failure, I always say, taught me a valuable lesson in entrepreneurship. It dawned on me that I should have ventured into a business I was passionate about – whose processes I understood from beginning to end. This realization led me into an adventure that sought to fill a gap in society.
Months after getting out of hospital, in January 2013, I set up a fashion enterprise — a passion that I had been suppressing for a long time.
To build a name, I started by dressing up friends and former workmates for free. Having noticed that suits found in most shops were baggy and dull. Besides that they were being mass produced with little consideration on creativity. I would go out shopping and get over-sized suits, take them to my tailor for resizing and sometimes add a few design changes to make them perfect and attractive to wear to work.
Tired of the long process it took to get a fitting suit and the unavailability of what I term “creative men’s suit shops in Kenya”, I decided to bridge the gap.
Armed with positive feedback that I had received from people I had dressed and Ksh 23,000, I bought a sewing machine, registered a business, hired a tailor and the La Giacca brand was born.
La Giacca was a side business until I quit my job when I was 25 years old, to give it undivided attention. I consistently encourage people to follow their passion.
Today, the brand boasts of having a line from:
- LaGiacca Silver,Gold & Platinum,
- LaGiacca Ladies, LaGiacca Weddings & more recently
- LaGiacca Kiongozi targeting High Net Worth Individuals.
“How old are you again if I may ask”
“I was born on the 13th of August, 1988”
“What did I do with my life when I was under 29”
The boy child…why are you so passionate about the boy child?
#ChanuaBoyChild is an initiative that I begun after realising how marginalised the boy child’s needs have become. Having looked around and saw a boy who had so much expected from him with little or no guidance whatsoever into becoming a man. I decided to bridge that gap, by speaking to boys and young men alike, through my life experiences, to transform, empower and create capacity for the boy child to be a responsible man and leader into his adulthood.
I ensure that every boy who goes through my hands is well equipped to thrive in his desired path and be a man of honour in the society.
“I am also passionate about the girl child”
I have consistently been of the opinion that women are a wealth of resources and energy that could change the world, if channeled towards the right direction.
I believe that an empowered woman takes her role powerfully in the community and nurtures it into it’s full potential. I am currently working on a project that will focus on the entrepreneurial woman. To celebrate her, mentor her train her and reward her.
Do you have other initiatives ?
Out of my mentorship passion I begun the MentorMe Talk Tours under a brand that I created. MentorMe that seeks to link up mentors and mentees, celebrates entrepreneurs and give guidance to our audience on entrepreneurial roadblocks, through a weekly publication. We are currently improving our model to accommodate all the needs we spotted in our niche
The MentorMe Talk Tours has seen me travel wide to universities and high schools across the continent, leaving an impacted people wherever I go.
I like to call it #BrandsThatBuildBrands and derive my satisfaction from building brands and leaving a legacy.
We recently also launched the UaLangu Foundation, a social enterprise that seeks to empower the less fortunate in the society, predominantly, the single mothers.
Through this foundation, they are provided with training on financial management and some skills in creative works. All their products are then sold through Expos and our website and the teams rewarded. Most stay loyal to the organisation even after gaining financial stability, enjoying the security afforded by the business model.
I have actually been nominated for Cafe Ngoma Awards under the leadership category, because of these initiatives. They are very close to my heart. Rael, I hope you have already voted for me…
” How many times are we allowed to vote? ”
” As much as you can”
“Isn’t this too much for one person?”
“I have an amazing team of seven that keeps the brand going”
Lastly on our plate…
We also love giving people a good time. An environment to unwind, away from the busyness of the city. Through N’dunda- The N is Silent, we throw parties in the wild and it’s always the place to be. We pride ourselves in meticulous planning, and the ability to bring out the best of the wild. I dare every reader to try our next “N’dunda in the Wild” on 31st December, 2017. We will cross the year in the wild, at Ol Donyo Sapuk.
One last word that could serve as a reminder/guiding principle to those who will read this?
Follow your passion. No dream is too big to be accomplished.
Love & Love.