Fashion designer heads to Zambia to create new brand with local talent

11-04-2013

Beata Rajská is one of the Czech Republic’s leading clothing designers. But soon she will be swopping the catwalks for a school in the African state of Zambia, where she will be teaching locals how to make clothing as part of a project run by a Czech NGO based named Njovu. I discussed the project with the group’s director Vendula Jičínská.

Beata Rajská, photo: Šárka ŠevčíkováBeata Rajská, photo: Šárka Ševčíková “It’s vocational training for vulnerable youth and children. We started it in 2011 and it is located in Zambia in the small village of Katongo in Western Province. We train tailors, cooks, food production specialists and electricians.”

How did Beata Rajská get involved in the project. Did she approach you first or was it originally your initiative?

“It was an initiative from our side. We want to start a new fashion brand – our own collection of clothing – that would be produced in Zambia and sold in the Czech Republic. So we were thinking of who we could approach with this idea, who could help us create a line that would be successful in the Czech Republic. And Beata Rajská agreed to work with us, which we are very happy about.”

Are you already working, or are you planning to work with any other designers?

“We are mainly working with a Czech designer Gizela Šabóková, who is a glass designer, working on glass statues, but she is also helping us with the clothing collection and a jewelry collection, which is made in Kenya, as part of a project of a partner organization Asante Kenya.”

Photo: archive of NjovuPhoto: archive of Njovu And the products that the students will be making for this clothing line, will they be also sold in Zambia or will this be an exclusively European brand?

“Probably both. I think we will have some products that will be sold on the local market, but some clothing will be designed especially for the Czech Republic.”

Have you cooperated with other Czech celebrities in the past, on any other projects?

“We have a long-term partnership with Asante Kenya, which is connected to [television personality] Lejla Abbasová, since we coordinate some of their projects in Kenya. We have very close relations, and from time to time we hold some events with some celebrities to raise funds or to inform people about our projects and initiatives.”

And outside of creating this fashion line, do the students that graduate from your vocational training program, do they have a chance to find employment in their own country?

Vendula Jičínská, photo: archive of NjovuVendula Jičínská, photo: archive of Njovu “Well, what we try to do is to have each student that leaves the school create a business plan that would help them start up their own business, because it is very difficult to find employment there. There are not many formal employers in the country, so they need to find a way of how to employ themselves. So we have really tried to stress the point that they have to be responsible for themselves and we train them for this.”

11-04-2013