A few weeks ago while I was in Cape Town, I met up with Entrepreneur and Magazine publisher, Olive Gachara from Kenya. There was no way I was just gonna hangout with her and not turn it into a more memorable moment for us.
Luckily she didn’t mind having a chat with me and this is how it all went down. Ladies & Gents here is Olive Gachara.
Kiki: Let’s start off by what drew me to you, those shoes…..THE SHOES!! Where did you get them?
Olive: The shoes are made by Rwandan and Tanzanian ladies.
Kiki: You are from Nairobi, Kenya and you are wearing Rwandan and Tanzania products. I love it!
Olive: Proudly African is what I am. Hahaha
Kiki: The bag looks African too. Where is that one from?
Olive: This bag is Kenyan. It’s by a designer called Adele Dejak. She does Jewellery, bags and all the cool stuff.
Kiki: Ok let’s move right along. You run a magazine, please tell us more about it.
Olive: Yes, Couture Africa Magazine is an East African Magazine published in Nairobi, Kenya. It’s distributed throughout Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. Hopefully we’ll get to South Africa soon. That’s our next destination.
Kiki: What is the magazine about?
Olive: We celebrate African fashion. That’s why you see me wearing so many local designers. It was started because of the need for what’s locally available. It was launched in August 2013, and all the magazines that were there were focusing on International brands or well-known shops you find at the mall. Couture Africa talks about real African Fashion trends & Lifestyle because most of the readers enjoy the finer things in life.
Kiki: How are things so far? Are Africans supporting by subscribing?
Olive: We keep growing, we are moving towards 2000 digital subscribers, which is really good. Most of our subscribers are from the USA and the UK.
Kiki: I can relate to having audience from the USA and UK. It’s the same thing I’m experiencing with my publication Ossify Media. The USA & UK are in the top 5 right now.
Olive: It goes to show that there is a lot of love for Africa. It could be Africans that are based overseas or those people that genuinely long for African content and African fashion.
Kiki: Speaking of African…What would you say makes YOU African? Besides being born here and being black?
Olive: I’d say it’s my hustle. There is a way that African women work to get whatever they need done. When it comes to providing for themselves or their families you can’t compare it to anyone else. Our hustle is beyond.
Kiki: Mmmmmh, you think?
Olive: It’s only now that you see these young girls waiting for things to be handed to them. But if you look back at your mother, your grandmother, your aunties and their friends, neighbours you will get what I’m saying. Those females hustled. I have that hustle and that’s what makes me African.
Kiki: Ok, I get you now. What do you love most about Africa and its people?
Olive: Africans are very social beings. We don’t just stick to our kind or the people we know – we socialize. Even if you look at the African Americans, they are very social. Africans embrace people. Travel to any African country and you will be embraced. If you come to Kenya you will never feel alone. I am here in South Africa and I don’t feel alone. If you go to Germany, you will definitely feel alone. That’s what I love about my fellow Africans. Look, I just met you Kiki but it’s like we’ve known each other for years.
Kiki: I know right? We just clicked! Anyway, what is it that you don’t like about being African or about Africa?
Olive: I don’t like the poverty story.
Olive: No! No! Not poverty. I am talking about the poverty story. Let me be specific for people to understand what I mean. For example, when you come to Kenya you will find people walking their cows to graze and all….and because of that they are considered poor. It bothers me. Since when did the definition of wealth become driving fancy/expensive cars? My definition of wealth should not be everybody’s definition of wealth.
Kiki: That’s why you said the poverty story?
Olive: Exactly! The poverty story. People living in rural Africa are not poor. They are actually wealthier than people living in urban areas. They grow their own food, milk their own cows, no stress! I’m not disputing that there is poverty in Africa. But there is poverty everywhere in the world. Africa, America, Asia you name it. Poverty is there, but what bothers me is the poverty story where; if you’re not urban then you are poor. That’s not how life should be.
Kiki: Going back to the African women topic. There are a lot of challenges we face as women, especially the young girls. There’s rape, human trafficking, child abuse etc. What do you think can be done to change all that? What can we do as African women to save and protect our girls?
Olive: We need to focus on the root of the problem = MEN! They are the ones causing all this. Let’s focus on educating them. Make them understand that the woman that’s sitting next to them could be their mother, sister or daughter. Men are very protective of their own blood. You touch another man’s sister, you will be handled. They are very protective.
Kiki: That’s actually true. The men in my family are very protective of me. So I get you on this.
Olive: The men need to realise that every female is their sister. There shouldn’t be a division. That way problems will be solved. There is nothing more we can do on our side as women that we haven’t already done. We can protect ourselves, educate ourselves, attend conferences, empower each other, take self-defense lessons and all of that, but if the root of the problem is not being dealt with, we wont succeed. Let’s switch and focus on the men who by the way are the cause of all this.
Kiki: Oh Lord! And we are doing a lot for ourselves as women. But it seems the more we do the less we are heard.
Olive: That’s because men still need to be educated about women issues.
Kiki: Closing off with the magazine. Where can people connect with you?
Olive: We have a very interactive website coutureafricamag.com. You can also download the App Couture Africa Magazine to flip through the magazine on your phone or tablet. We are also on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Kiki: Thank you so much for chatting to me. See you in Kenya.
Olive: Yessssss! Nairobi awaits you.