Surviving the War on Talent: Kayi & Kii Fundafunda

Welcome to the last ‘case-study’ in The War on Talent Series (to read previous articles in the series click here).

I sat down with the best dynamic duo since milk & cookies; Sekayi (kayi) and Tukiya (kii) Fundafunda, and discussed their survival tactics on the war on talent. 

To use their own words;

We are Sisters, Fashion Bloggers, Zambian Fashion Consultants, Wardrobe Stylists, Creative Directors & Mama Bears to the blog and company MaFashio.

Education

Educational Qualifications: 

Kii

Dabbled in computer science and holds a degree in Law.

Kayi

Holds a degree in economics and finance, and a certificate in International Protocol and Diplomacy.

Kii: Initially, we didn’t see a direct link between our business and what we studied. But now its amazing to do something like draft and send a contract to clients and have them think you have in-house counsel or be able to ask pertinent questions before we get into an agreement. That’s something corporates don’t expect from a small business.

Kayi: I agree with Kii, as Mafashio has grown I’ve learnt the fashion industry can contribute to the economy. So in terms of career trajectory I see myself figuring out what economic benefits there are in fashion and how the African Fashion industry can grow and disrupt beyond just Tribal print & ‘Ghana must go bags’.

 

How did you move from taking pictures of people on the streets of Lusaka to where you are:

Musonda Mafashio
Boulevard Modish: Musonda, 31/08/2012. University Of Zambia. loved her look. and those braids!!! 🙂

Kayi: One thing Kii is always saying is, don’t be afraid to change and grow. When we changed the direction of Mafashio there was some resistance from certain people ‘What happened to doing street style, now you’re doing events’ but Kii has always believed that’s the process of growth and change. It’s also been about identifying opportunities.

 Kii: We were never on a mission to make ‘this fire fashion company’ to start with. We were just doing and talking about something that we loved. Mafashio started to grow and change as we started to grow and change. But one thing that has definitely benefited us is consistency which is something that many small businesses in Zambia lack, even for something as simple as a ‘Kantemba’. Like Kayi alluded to, we have had instances were opportunity meets luck but a lot of it has been consistency. 

How did you convince the Zambian Population that Mafasio was ‘legit’:

We were NAIVE!!!!!! and that’s what got us many of our first gigs. We were just so convinced we would start a business and tell people this is what we do and it would just make sense to everyone. So people took our naivety as confidence *hahaha* and we didn’t know that people fail. 

As we’ve grown we’ve become slower because we take a bit more time thinking about how we are going to approach a client and word documents, because we’re bigger now we can’t be careless. But if we had started out this way we wouldn’t have gotten where we are because we would have been frustrated within 2 months.

We also had to convince ourselves that we were giving out a viable product and service because the minute you doubt yourself it’s over. We constantly have conversations about why our services are important and  ask ‘is it still important?’ so that if someone stops us in the street and asks ‘why do I need a stylist?’ we’re able to confidently tell them. 

Biggest career accomplishment thus far: 

Kii: Every single time someone recognizes Zambian Fashion because of us.

Kii alluded to being recognized by people outside the local Zambian community. She appreciated the fact that they were able to have conversations that resonated with the global community (Check out there African Voices Piece with CNN), it doesn’t get more global than that!

Kayi: Having people pay for our service, especially because its not main stream, that keeps me grateful. It means people understand the value of our business. Being able to pay your own bills off styling in Zambia is amazing!

But on a much more personal basis, getting recognized. Think about this, you were alone in your bedroom creating something and next thing you know, you’re winning global awards, you can’t describe that feeling!

Sekayi was selected as one of ten, Fashions Future Voices by Business of Fashion and Topshop from thousands of applicants across the globe.

Traits

What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?

Kii: Eclectic, Perfectionist & Dreamer

Kayi: Idealist, Workaholic & Passionate

What’s your favorite quotation?

Kayi:

“There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming.” 
― Shauna Niequist

“Be who you were created to be and you will set the world on fire.”
― Catherine of Siena

Kii:

“You are well within your rights to stand up, interrupt everyone around you and say, ‘This is not who I am. This is not what I want. I’m sorry, but you’ve mistaken me for somebody else.” 
― Iain S. Thomas

Would you say the following traits describe you?

Kii:

    Yes Somewhat No
1 Self-Confident  X  
2 Self-Starter X    
3 Likable   X  
4 Cooperative X    
5 Ability for abstract and logical thinking X    
6 High stress tolerance  X  
7 Hard working X
8 Intelligent

I think I’m creatively and emotionally intelligent but in regards to other facets, I’m not sure.

Would you say the following traits describe you?

  Yes Somewhat No
1 Self-Confident X    
2 Self-Starter X    
3 Likable  X  
4 Cooperative  X  
5 Ability for abstract and logical thinking  X  
6 High stress tolerance X    
7 Hard working X
8 Intelligent

In regards to intelligence she stated that she was, in a technical and academic way.

Behavior

What time do you wake up?

Kii: I wake up when I have to, but I sleep between 2 and 4 AM. I’ve had trouble sleeping since I was 9. I have a nightly ritual I watch something that makes me better in my field, then I watch something for fun, then I read an article or a book. 

Kayi: Most days I’m up by 5 AM, I read the Bible, read a book. I stretch or walk. Then I respond to all our emails and set all our meetings, then start to bother Kii ’cause I’m bored. 

How do you stay at the top of your craft?

Fashion Bloggers aren’t expected to know about fashion. They like clothes, but they don’t really know about fashion so it’s been imperative for us to learn all these technical things about our field. Social media has helped, but we do a lot of reading and a lot of tutorials. Our industry in Zambia is still in its infancy, so we try to stay in touch with whats going on in the African and Global community. 

Environment

Are leaders born or made?

Kayi: It’s a bit of both. I think people are born with leadership in them but like most things in life, it has to be cultivated.

Kii: Yes and no.

As a leader in your field, do you think there are certain traits or situations that you were born with that placed you at an advantage compared to your peers?

Kii: Yes, I was shy and introverted as a child so that allowed me to have a lot of time to myself and this allowed my creative side to manifest. We were also born to odd parents and that helped harness our creativity. Our dad is always saying he very purposefully had a family; so he was very purposeful about what he taught us and how he talked to us. He didn’t stumble into fatherhood. 

Kayi: I always make the argument for conditioning, we didn’t travel when we were younger or do any of those fancy things but my parents created such a rich environment for us that it was only when I was 22 that I started to think that certain things were impossible. 

What role has your environment had in getting you to your current position?

Kii stated that before Mafashio they had a sense of loneliness which lead them to want to find or create a community of people like them.

Thats what Mafashio is driven by. “We’re weird. Are you weird like we’re weird and do you want to be weird together?” 

Kayi: Zambians like things, no Zambians looooooove things! So if you have a fire product, because people are curious they are not going to not try something just because they don’t understand it. So people will call you and say ‘I need a stylist!’ and then you’ll have to speak to them and ask do you know what a stylist is? But that curiosity gets the conversation started.

Kii: The people in our field in Zambia also take their work [creatively] very seriously, so that serves as a constant source of inspiration. 

Enlightenment

They say hindsight is 20/20, is there anything you wish you could have done differently in your journey?

Kayi: If we had known earlier how easy it is to invest little amounts over a long period of time into our future or our business, we would probably have started earlier. We spent a lot of time waiting for bigger sums, but in hindsight we could have definitely started earlier. When you make that little money you should start thinking about where to invest that money so that it works for you, that gives your business and to an extent your life a purpose.

Kii: I would have found out a bit more about the administrative side of running a business in Zambia, and I might not have wanted to incorporate as early as we incorporated. Those things are necessary now, but it would have been interesting to see how the fashion blogging aspect grew without the strain of administration.  

For all of the people, who aspire to reach the heights you have, what would your advice to them be?

Kayi: Don’t wait for permission to start, because no one will ever give it to you. When we started we didn’t have the things that we do now, if we had waited until we had a fancy equipment, we would have never started. So just start where you are. But when you start don’t get comfortable being were you are, grow within your sphere.

Kii: Learn from people who’ve done it and from people who haven’t done it. Also suppress the fear within you, because if you’re scared you can’t be a trendsetter or innovative or create change.

 


Thank you so much, Kii & Kayi, for your time, energy & authenticity.  

For more about them check out http://mafashio.co.zm/