In the vibrant world of African fashion, one business stands out for its dedication to empowering local artisans and preserving traditional designs. Mbabazi (House of Style), a Fair Trade enterprise, is transforming the industry by seamlessly blending African heritage with modern fashion, while providing a fair livelihood for its dedicated employees.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Founded in 2005 by Grace Byeitima, Mbabazi (House of Style) pays homage to her single mother, Mbabazi Loy Rujumba. Grace credits her mother for instilling in her the values of hard work and skill development from a young age. It was through her mother’s unwavering support and guidance that Grace embarked on her journey into the world of fashion.
At just 13 years old, Grace enrolled in a sewing class taught by her mother, Mbabazi Loy Rujumba. It was there that she first heard the words that would become the foundation of her thriving business: “With the proper skills and hard work, you can succeed in life.” Today, Mbabazi employs 12 permanent staff members, 4 apprentices, and 6 part-timers, all of whom benefit from the opportunities and fair wages provided by the company.
IN THE HEART OF MEMPHIS
Grace’s entrepreneurial spirit and passion for her craft eventually led her to Memphis, where she has resided since 2014. Here, she continues to infuse her elegant designs with the rich fabrics and prints of African tradition, creating unique and modern fashion statements that resonate with customers around the world.
Mbabazi’s success is rooted in its commitment to nurturing the talents of its employees, including Grace’s own mother, who now heads the production department in Uganda. With over 30 years of experience, Loy shares her invaluable expertise with the tailors and trainees, ensuring the preservation of traditional techniques and the highest quality of craftsmanship.
VISION + MISSION
But Mbabazi’s vision extends beyond clothing. The brand also offers accessories and lifestyle items that embody the creative spirit of its founder, further contributing to the concept of a “House of Style.”
In the face of challenges that often plague developing nations’ markets, Mbabazi has flourished, thanks in part to its unwavering commitment to Fair Trade practices. Recognizing the potential pitfalls of relying on subsidies and grants, Mbabazi champions the mantra “Trade Not Aid” as the key to sustainable economic growth in countries like Uganda.
As a for-profit business, Mbabazi relies on the support of discerning customers who recognize the value of investing in ethical, high-quality products. By choosing Mbabazi, they not only embrace exquisite African designs but also contribute to the empowerment of hardworking artisans and the preservation of a rich cultural heritage.