My story, my determination to self-success in life

By Kevin Outa in Nairobi

Denim x Maasai Sweatsuit

It is worth trying as it is, although challenges awaits one at the end, only commitment and self-trust leads to the achievement of the intended goal. This is how the birth of Deep End Clothing Kenya, Specializing on youthful and middle class African attires of all seasons and more came into being.

Denim x Ankara Tote

While I was in my last year of campus at the University of Nairobi in 2016, I was struggling with two decisions that each had different implications on my future; whether to pursue a career in the field I was studying (Economics), or to go with self-employment and be a jack of all trade. I thought that I could do both, but I knew I did not want to. For the longest time ever, I wanted to run my own business. The prospect of working for someone else did not appeal to the kind of life I wanted to build for myself. What encouraged me most to make sole decision is the facts that my parents supported independent minds, ideas and decisions we make as their children as long as it is the wish of an individual and did not impact negatively in life and at the same time, such decisions must meet the threshold of the family which is dominated by strong faith and Christian background. This is what my father Odongo Odoyo and my mother Jane has taught us to do. Nothing behind that and only respect our individual decisions based on this line of thought and behaviour. We all have a big thank you to both our parents and as the last born l would wish to see my effort succeed without disappointing the people l love most who gave me this space to move on.

Back to my own decision, l had already decided that path to take it was considered risky by my fellow college mates but it was the road l had to walk through. I can say I am not regretting that decision as I continue perfecting my-self-made career. This is what my fellow young mates should come to terms with and create their own opportunities disregarding or perfecting their academic qualifications as the world streets are full of unemployment which can only be overcomed by involving in self-job creation.

Maasai Sling Bag

My last year of campus was a very confusing period. The realization that it was now time to forge my own path into adulthood was kind of daunting, and floating in between these two decisions did not make it any easier.

I decided that I would be self-employed. This was supported by the fact that I had already been doubling up as a photographer in my last two years of campus. I really enjoy creating, and photography allowed me to do so. This was the first step towards building the life I desired.

I finished campus in 2016 but graduated in 2017, and that time in between gave me the opportunity to dive into my creative exploits as a photographer. I figured that if I wanted to get more people to notice my photography, it would be a good idea to try and partner with a local clothing brand. I tried reaching out to several brands, and almost secured an opportunity with one of them. However, after much back and forth, we decided that it was in both of our best interests to go our separate ways. It was after this experience that I saw the possibility of me doing this with my own clothing brand.

Towards the end of 2017, I started Deep End Clothing Kenya, a clothing brand that deals with the design and creation of bespoke denimwear, with an African touch. I started by outsourcing the production to two established tailors; one dealing with the clothing and the other making bags for us. I also tested out a few suppliers for our branded t-shirts, and finally settled for one in Jericho Market. We produced the first batch of our designs and started putting the brand out there, using social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

Even though I had started this brand as a way to get more people to notice my photography, it soon developed a life of its own. I knew that if I wanted to succeed as a photographer, I had to work extra hard to put the clothing brand out there. This meant that I would have to increase the product output, ramp up the marketing efforts, and actually work towards building a brand that people can relate with, and count on.

Because we are an online brand, people do not get the chance to physically interact with the brand and its products. I realized that this was an area we definitely had to improve on, and in 2019, we started frequenting pop-up markets in Nairobi such as the Nairobi Flea Market, and the Karen Flea Market. At these events, we were not only able to let our potential customers view our products, but also engage with other brands and see how they operate their businesses. This was very helpful.

The onset of the global pandemic in early 2020 slowed things down for me as a photographer and for Deep End Clothing as well. As a portrait photographer, the COVID-19 health protocols have made it close to impossible to organize photo sessions and even attend organized events. This has also made me rethink the way I run Deep End Clothing as a brand and as a business.

Branded Tshirt

Because of the significant downturn in income, I had to make sure that I make the most of any opportunities that may come my way. Therefore, I purchased a sewing machine and spent the better part of 2020 teaching myself how to make both clothing and bags. Then, I had the brand registered as a business, making it possible for me to start up an e-commerce website to take advantage of the fact that more and more people are going for online shopping. I have also started laying a foundation for opportunities to work with influencers who can help push forward the agenda of the brand. With new designs in the making, there is definitely a lot to look forward to.

It has not, and still is not, an easy journey, but pushing myself and seeing the results coming along is very rewarding. Many people may think that I am far behind my peers, but that really does not matter to me. What matters is that I am trying to build something for myself, and slowly by slowly, if I am constantly working, then I will get to a point where it will be possible for me to achieve all my goals.

What could be better than that?

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