In Their Own Fashionable Word ... Stephanie Atieno, Kitenge Queen


Could you introduce yourself to the readers ?

My name is Stephanie Atieno I am a US based Kenyan Designer who is interested in making getting dressed as fun as possible. I design women’s business causal wear from an East African printed material called kitenge. Within each Stephanie Atieno garment I include two care tags, the normal one, for taking care of the clothes, and a special care tag on which is a message shared on how to take care of you.

Please describe your journey to fashion design.

I was a young graduate working in my first corporate job and I really wanted to look professional. I was however in love with prints which does not necessarily immediately scream professionalism. However, trying to merge what I needed and what I wanted I searched for aesthetically pleasing and vibrant professional wear.  I could not find anything on the market that was in my price range so I started to create my own and from there Stephanie Atieno grew.

What are your main sources of inspirations ?

I am inspired by women who are both fashionable and functional. When you take fashion trend that is typically thought of as for one occasion and re imagine it for an everyday contemporary look I am excited by this.

Five words to describe your creations.

Wearable, Fun, Feminine, Caring, and Vibrant

For you a creative day starts with …

Breakfast, being creative on an empty stomach is not for me. Also, I start with playing the music that reflects the mood I want to create.  

Which aspects of your activity do you enjoy the most ? The least ?

I enjoy almost every part from the designing, traveling to the business strategizing and implementation. I least enjoy 

What’s you hidden talent?

I’ve been singing forever but I am so shy to perform but if you catch me in the house I’m always singing and hitting notes.

Which celebrity would you love to design for ?
(Present or past )

I would love to design for Miriam Makeba. She had a natural elegance and style that she exuded that I have always admired.

Describe your “perfect” customer ?

My perfect customer is one who sees a garment and knows a million ways to style it in her head. She is not afraid to of taking risks, likes to be bold and classy in her fashion choices and wants to be noticed.  

How do you select your fabric and materials ?

I source my fabric in East Africa. I only use authentic “kitenge” material that was milled from cotton grown on the continent. My hopes are to in my own small way contribute to the growth of the African textile industry and to improve trade and infrastructure.

Where do you see yourself/ your brand in 5 years ?

I see myself expanding to brick and motor stores around the globe.

How do you promote your brand ?

I attend events trade shows and participate as vendor at several events as well as online social media. Most of my customers I have met in person prior to making an order online.

What do you think of the emergence of African designers and 
African – inspired fashion ?

I think it is a beautiful thing. I am happy that the world has embraced African prints but I am even more ecstatic that we as African designers have awoken to their own excellence.

What advice could you give to someone who wants to launch his own fashion brand ?

Start. Timing and funding may be the barriers for you but I always say if you wait until a perfect time, that time will never come and you will always be waiting.


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