Neema Kinoti, she is the founder of Ohana Family Wear, a Kenyan swimwear line with Afro-inspired fabrics, colours and prints to create modern designs.
Ohana Family Wear was founded in 2017 while as a student at the United States International University- Africa.
Kinoti met the Khusoko team to share her brand’s story on how they are on a mission to ensure that Africans from all walks of life have access to swimwear that gives them the confidence to step into the water.
Ohana Family Wear represents through our range of beachwear designed to celebrate our African culture, different body shapes and sizes.
Tell us about Ohana Swimwear
Ohana Swimwear designs produce and sell all-inclusive swimwear products inspired by African cultures. We combine the latest fabrics, colours, and prints to create modern designs influenced by emerging international trends.
This is what sets us apart from the other swimwear lines in Kenya. Each Ohana swimwear is a real piece of art that conveys its inspirational side as well as challenge the senses.
What inspired you to go into the Swimwear brand that champions Africans Swimming?
We often hear the statement “Africans don’t swim”. A statement that is, unfortunately, true. As recent as last month, the World Health Organization noted that drowning deaths are highest in Africa at rates that are 15-20 times higher than in developed countries. While there are various reasons why we don’t swim, what is undeniable is that people need to see that swimming is an essential skill. At Ohana Swimwear, we are doing our part by ensuring that Africans from all walks of life have access to swimwear that gives them the confidence to step into the water.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced so far?
Our biggest challenge has been securing funding to expand the business.
Currently, you are only making swimwear. Do you plan on expanding your line and create more products in the future?
Yes. We are hoping to create swimwear complimentary products in the near future.
What is defining the fashion industry within Africa currently? This is because global brands have been making inroads and opening stores, is there something that is attracting them?
I think the biggest thing defining the fashion industry within Africa is our culture and the way we embrace our beautiful heritage.
With Africa being one of the fastest-growing markets for consumer goods worldwide, global brands have increasingly focused their efforts on the continent’s vibrant economies.
What can make African brands compete effectively with global brands?
Africans need to build their brands for the long-term if they want to compete favorably on the global stage. We need to think long term and build credible, reputable brands that will stand the test of time.
It seems everything is changing in the fashion industry — especially the consumer. How true is this?
It is true. With everything changing and moving so fast in the industry, customer preferences and tastes are also shifting according to what and who is trending at the moment.
What are the most noticeable elements of change in your perspectives and the way customers interact with the fashion brands, the way they engage with a variety of products?
People want to know the story behind the brand, they do not just want to buy the product. They seek more product information and more value, and also how long it will last.
What do you see as the most important challenges for fashion players as they continue to deliver on improving their sustainability record?
Access to funding and necessary resources especially in Africa.
What advice would you give young women interested in this industry?
You never know unless you try.