Wednesday, November 12, 2014 0 comments

Africa Frist

Since we founded mille collines in spring of 2009 in Kigali we have always followed a strong vision: Africa first. 

At very early stages of the project we decided that we wanted to bet for the African continent not only to establish and produce a luxury African fashion brand but also to distribute it. Thats how we opened in the summer of 2010 our first stand alone store in the city of Nairobi. Today, we have 5. 

Very often, we are asked about our expansion to other international markets. There is a big urge in the mentality of the people in the industry in Africa to take their talent, brands and projects outside of the continent, as if staying here made them invisible. At mille collines we believe that staying inside makes us more interesting and give us time to grow our companies in a pace that is aligned with our operational model. 

We have always defended that an African brand must root itself; connect the creation of the products to the consumers in its regions. Africa is becoming a sophisticated market where local luxury brands have a great opportunity to thrive and expand. 

What helps new companies succeed is the ability to stay focused. International markets are huge, highly saturated and very complex operationally for a young and new company. 

In an exciting move, we have been invited next week to attend the Retail Congress of Africa in Johannesburg with speakers that go from the expansion general manager of Mango to the Director of integrated retail of Walt Disney. 

Why should we move out when the world is starting to move in? 

Thursday, November 28, 2013 0 comments

a beautiful collaboration

This season we were excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with artist Naomi Van Rampelberg. Naomi is known for her fine, incredibly detailed work that she applies to glass as well as paper collage. For the first time ever she hand painted on fabric for our Tuareg inspired 2013 collection. Our glass jewelry was hand painted by the artist as well.
Check out more of her work on her facebook page. We're excited for Naomi as she exhibiting her collection at at Hangar311 Gallery in Mechelen, Belgium

Friday, May 24, 2013 1 comments

Solar energy in our workshop

Power outages are a common occurrence in Rwanda, but we've found a green solution to help us out. Solar lamps! The sun is not a scarce resource here in Rwanda. The team can charge their lamps while using them at their machines.

 Sun Kings charging in the bright sun, while our tailor uses it at his table. Efficient.

Shedding some light on our tailors as they sew our Isaro Tank Top.
Some tailors get more creative than others with how they mount their lamps.

Thursday, May 16, 2013 2 comments

there is something about Nairobi

There is something about Nairobi. Every time I set foot in the airport, I remember that summer of 2010, when Marc was building our very first mille collines store. There are so many emotional memories attached to those days when we were creating the very first one, the store that would give us green light to keep on breathing. I remember vividly Marc drawing for the first time a wooden table with 98 pieces that created a perfect puzzle. Or him phoning me from Nairobi to explain me how the electrician wanted to install speaker cables in our shop for the lighting. The tented camp he stayed in during the construction months; sometimes tented, sometimes a shared room, sometimes a dark old humid room. He asked for nothing more, asked for nothing less. I can still remember the blue Bata flip flops he wore during Kenyan winter four sizes smaller. With that will and that passion is how we made our first mille collines store happen.

There is something about Nairobi now, the home that Marc imagined and created through a lack of one during two years has turned out to be a magic place today. A place that is full of light, of fresh and new Africa, of optimistic surprise messages in places you would never expect them, of memories of a life we are leaving behind and expectations of a year we want to move forward faster than slower, bigger than smaller.
The apartment, home to co founder and brand is located in Parklands in a very peaceful street full of bushed that are perfectly shaped to the eye. This weekend we walked to Westlands to have breakfast and the following days have been a constant race of meetings after meetings.

There is something about Nairobi today, we have two stores and one that is on its way. Expectations are high and many times scary. Today was scary. However, in the peace of that house Marc imagined and customized to be, wrapped in a new blue striped blanket recently purchased to add a touch of color to the leather coach, cuddled by the glance of three beautiful people photographed in black and white on the wall above us there is nothing that can actually go wrong. We have built a brand that is so full of us, of the story of two young naïve and brave people and the beauty of a continent that will only open more to the world year after year.  

On a plane now back to my Kigali home. There will always be something about Nairobi.
Thank you Marc for always wrapping up my fears. For your determination and unconditional faith in mille collines.