Happy new week my lovelies. Two is definitely better than one, but how about three! My some-what week of silence led to my discovery and current admiration for Buqisi_Ruux (I’d love to hear you pronounce this). A cool high-heels brand, owned by three sisters, Lynn Bugari, Tetsi Bugari and Nuba Elamin. You can’t help but fall in love with their passion and pride in their African heritage.
Any lady over 20 needs that one pair of wedges, pumps or peep-toes that portray the true beauty she is, which is why I couldn’t wait any longer to unveil to you, Buqisi_ruux 🙂 They cater to the lady who isn’t afraid to be different; she is confident, fashionable and loves to stand out from the crowd. “She is clothed with strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future” I also especially admire that they share stories of African women that have inspired and impacted their lives.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Nuba and Lynn, who were a joy to meet and got me thinking about how we as young people have so much going on for us, if we just stop and looked around us. Their long struggle to find work drove them to come together and pursue what they love.
Karen: How did you fall in love with the idea of prints on high-heels? Tell us the birth story of Buqisi-Ruux
Lynn: It came purely from the love for the colours and patterns on African fabric and our love for the African continent. We felt that we could do so much more with African material, than the usual clothes that were being made. A love for shoes also played a very big part in it and we just combined those two passions to come up with a product that we would be proud to wear.
Karen: Could you share more about each of your roles, which have glued together a brand in more than two countries? Who’s happiest doing what?
Lynn: Buqisi Ruux is founded by the three of us, Nuba, Tetsi and Lynn. We are all family members and this is one of the strongest things that our brand stands for.
Nuba has a background in project coordination, she is very organised great with planning, and coordination is her strong point. She has used this strength to coordinate with suppliers and ensure that the quality of Buqisi Ruux shoes is up to standard and we have a good product.
Tetsi is the creative brain behind the brand. She has a talent and passion for design and is the one who designs the shoes. She is also in charge of marketing and branding for Buqisi_Ruux and has a degree in brand management.
Lynn is in charge of the administration of Buqisi Ruux as a business. She has a background in business management and uses that to manage the financial and administrative roles involved in making the business work.
Karen: And how do you complement each other as a team? How are you managing all this whilst apart?
Lynn: The three of us each have our different strengths that we have combined in order to make the Buqisi Ruux dream come true. Yes, we have that added advantage, of being spread across the African continent; this has made it possible to spread our brand among the different countries. Everybody is in charge of the country that they’re stationed in so we try to encourage some friendly competition among ourselves, to see who can push sales and visibility most in their respective countries. I’m not going to mention who’s killing it so far, but I’m sure you can tell…
Karen: I love that you name the shoes after strong African women that inspire you. Could you elaborate on this?
Lynn: We want Buqisi Ruux to be a brand that inspires people. We want a brand that African women in particular can be proud of, we want to promote Africa in a positive way and show the world that as a continent we also have some strong female players that are positively shaping the future of Africa.
Karen: Where does all the magic happen and within what sort of time-frame?
Lynn: I would say the magic happens over the internet (LOL). With us being in different countries, we have had to coordinate a lot of our business practices and meetings over Skype, Whatsapp and email. I would say it takes about 3 months for each collection to be complete, from the drawing of the sketches right to when the shoes arrive at our doorstep.
Karen: From where would you say, you draw the most inspiration when creating your new designs?
Lynn: We draw a lot of inspiration from what is new and trending in the fashion world. We try to keep up with the latest trends and that combined with the personalities of the people named after the shoe. We are also inspired by the continent – the people, cultures and traditions, women – it’s so vibrant!
Karen: At what point did your work start gaining recognition? I’d love to hear about some of your first clientele’s stories.
Lynn: Buqisi_Ruux started off with a lot of excitement on our side. We did all we could to get as much brand visibility in the first few months, so that we could get our brand name known, so we had magazine features and shout-outs from African celebrities and fashion bloggers, within the first three months of operation. However, its working progress and we still have a long way to go before we can claim true recognition, since it has only been a year.
Karen: Describe the typical lady that will wear Buqisi-Ruux heels. What would you like to distinguish your work?
Lynn: Buqisi Ruux shoes are worn by a lady who is not afraid to be different, someone who is fashionable and loves to stand out from the crowd. She is confident. There is a quote that we feel also describes this lady – “She is clothed with strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future”
We want our work to be distinguished by quality; we want our shoes to be up to standard and able to be compared to big brands like Sophia Webster, Steve Madden, Enzie, Sole Rebel and many others. We also want to be known as a brand that shares positive stories from the continent – especially stories of women.
Karen: How easy has it been for you to penetrate the Ugandan market? Are you raising the burner as a solely Ugandan brand?
Lynn: We want to be known as an African brand, we are not only based in Uganda but have presence in Nairobi and South Africa as well. The advantage that we had with the Ugandan market as compared to the other countries is the fact that we are Ugandan and therefore have more familiarity with how things are done here and a bigger network which we used as much as we could to try and get our brand out there. But as mentioned earlier, we are a young brand and still working and learning how to penetrate not only the Ugandan market but other African markets.
Karen: Could you please share some tips for other Ugandan designers or artists looking to build their profile and gain some recognition?
Lynn: Don’t give up, many times it will seem like it’s too difficult but the only brands that make it are the ones that manage to make it through the rough patches. I would also emphasise that as designers we need to make a product that speaks for itself. If you make a beautiful and quality product then it will practically sell itself.
New designers should also put a big focus on brand visibility and social media marketing because it is a cheap and effective way to reach a large market across the world.
And lastly network. Meet people in your field – its amazing how much you can learn by just having a conversation with someone.
I hope you enjoyed learning about Buqisi_ruux as much as I did. I’d love to hear your thoughts on their amazing work. Are your feet suddenly itching to try them on, I know mine are! If you’re in Kampala, they’re available at Bold in Acacia mall and at Kungara at the Karen Plains Arcade in Kenya also Jocelyn Patterson for my NYC peeps.