Zia Bett Nyamari: We cater to the plus size woman

Zia Bett Nyamari is a multifaceted entrepreneur who has made a name for herself in the business world with her made in Kenya clothing brand, Zia Africa. Over the past 10 years, Zia has used her expertise in digital marketing to grow Zia Africa to a well-known brand with a community of over 50,000 followers on social media and a loyal customer base of over 200 women. Since launching, Zia has dressed some of the most popular local celebrities and has been featured by top local media houses. She is passionate about women empowerment and creating sustainable fashion industry

1. How easy is it to make people like you, or rather, like what you are producing? What are your tips for young businesswomen trying to grow their customer base and get into what can sometimes feel like an overpopulated market? 
I believe the key to attracting people to what you’re producing is to focus on quality, listen to their feedback, and to constantly evolve. Work smart. Believe in yourself and your vision. Remain consistent. 

2. Kenya faces a lot of competition from markets abroad that produce faster and in larger quantities. What made you make the decision to produce an entirely made-in-Kenya brand? What trends do you see in how we buy and consume fashion?
I made that decision for two reasons. First, with a background in community development, it was important to me to create employment and empower women in the fashion industry. Secondly, I was eager to offer quality products to my customers. 

There has been a great uptake of Made in Kenya fashion brands over the last five years. I’ve observed greater celebration and promotion of Kenyan products than in the past. The Kenyan pride is slowly growing back, and I feel immense joy when I remember that we, Kenyan entrepreneurs, are offering products and services that Kenyans are proud of.

3. Tell me more about the sustainability aspect of Zia Africa. Why does sustainability appeal to you? Do you feel like Kenyans are making a push to be more sustainable with their clothing choices, and what they support?
The fashion industry is the third most polluting industry globally. The industry is actively destroying the environment. As a company, we decided to be part of the solution and not the problem. 

Zia Africa transitioned to a sustainable brand through introducing natural fabrics. Our clothes are 100 per cent cotton. On top of that, we offer fair wages for employees, good working conditions,  eco-friendly packaging, and we utilise the Zero Waste Model, where we reduce, reuse, recycle and upcycle.

4. What got you into fashion in the first place?
Passion, and the fact that I had identified an undeniable gap in the market. There was need for good quality, affordable and unique clothing. Consistency has proven rewarding. After 10 years in the market, I can attest that perseverance, growing and listening to your customers is key.

5. Statistics show that 67 per cent of women are plus size, and yet in the industry, only about 12 per cent of clothing produced (internationally) is for plus size women. Is this something you pay attention to at Zia? Have women ever asked for this from your fashion line? And do you have a plus-size specific line?
We do pay detailed attention to the African body by conducting extensive research as far as what style goes with what body type. We also have adjusted our patterns to match the majority of the body types we work with, which when compared to the UK size chart, the African Woman has bigger hips. Such adjustments make for a better fit. 

We produce clothes for all body types, from size 4 to beyond 20. We have sizes six to 18 readily available, and we make sizes 20 to 24+ as custom orders so that no one is left out. We cater to the plus size demographic through use of stretch materials and custom cuts, especially for woven fabric.

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