Paxwear is a contemporary Made in Kenya swimwear brand showcasing power and confidence in women through vibrant, timeless and fashionable bikinis regardless of the labels put on us by society.
“What story do my pieces tell? Paxwear designs are inspired by the rising sun, as I grew up around the Lake Victoria region, and just like it radiates through the skin and brings out the brighter and powerful side of you, Paxwear is designed to ignite the fun, vitalise and beam the confidence in you by focusing on fabric, fit, and functionality,” Idah Aluoch, Paxwear founder says.
Drawing inspiration from the rising sun, the 26-year-old Idah shares with Khusoko her entrepreneurial journey of fashion design, challenges and how mentorship for entrepreneurs is key to being successful.
Like the swimwear she creates, she is an exuberant person.
“Personally, I love colour and my brand Paxwear Lifestyle showcases that as well. I also love my Paxwear girls feeling confident in themselves when they wear their bikinis. It brings out their inner vibrance hence the motto- unleash your inner goddess.”
“I want to create a lifestyle that everybody can relate to; comfortable and stylish enough swimwear. To make all the girls and women feel empowered, beautiful and confident.”
Idah says Pax means ‘Peace’ in Latin. Pax was the Roman goddess whose symbol was used for peace after the Greek wars. A nickname she got from her mother.
Interestingly, she studied at the Technical University of Kenya and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Nutrition and Dietetics, but her dream was to be in the fashion industry.
“I graduated with my Bachelor’s in human nutrition and dietetics in 2018. I love fashion, generally everything to do with fashion. I grew up around the Lake Victoria region. We used to swim bare, without swimsuits. When we moved towns, we owned a TV where I could see people swimming in costumes and I got really intrigued in not only wanting to own one but to make some too. I was like, why didn’t we ever wear swimwear while swimming?
I knew I wanted to create something that people could relate to; fashionable, comfortable, cute and stylish for the girls and women out there.”
How do you describe your collections?
My first collection was inspired by colour, the Ziza Set and Pax Set collection which are in two designs, but in five different colours. My second collection was inspired by the body diversity of women as I brought in more inclusive sizes and different designs for every type of girl to choose from.
Can you describe your sets? What do they bring out to the wearer?
They all exude confidence. They are colourful,size-inclusive, fashionable, sexy and some like the Nairobi Black Set have thong adjustable bottoms at the back for any daring woman out there.
When making these bikinis, I have to really consider details like the fit since we do have different female body types. My first sets, the Pax and Ziza sets were available in limited sizes as compared to the Nairobi Black and the Sindo Red sets that are available from Xs to 3XL sizes. They all have different added details like the loop rings on Nairobi Black, back hooks and beads on the strappy bikinis. I also added coverups in my collection which are all available in free sizes.
What is the expression about your sets?
My designs are pretty simple and edgy. I am a lover of colour which is where my first collection was inspired by and the rising sun. I see beauty in almost everything. For instance, I give my coverups names that inspire me like the beauty of Takawiri Island.
The most challenging part of being a fashion designer
Mentorship and finances
Finances, a hundred per cent and of course having a mentor, somebody you can speak to about your ideas. There’s so much that goes into fashion and design. I might be having an idea, but bringing it to life really takes a lot like good planning.
When I started Paxwear Lifestyle, I already knew the designs I wanted to make but had no idea of how to get the ideal fabric for swimwear, how to go about the financing, where to source the machinery and tailors to assist in stitching. I, however, managed to get a machine to start the process. I would advise one also to be on the lookout for a mentor and plan accordingly before starting your fashion brand.
As the sustainability discussion continues to take centre stage globally, Idah says her brand is and she is aware of what she needs to do as the business grows.
“Yes, Paxwear is ethically made in Kenya and I support the course too. I ensure people I work around with are paid well and fairly, working under good conditions and all the materials are sourced in Kenya, meaning there’s reduced pollution on imported raw materials thus creating a sustainable environment that we live in,” she says, adding that it’s a good idea to be fashion-conscious and sustainable.
How do you address competition?
First, I love competition because it means there is a market and that people are buying. It is also a plus when I see lots of women in the same business as I’m an advocate of women empowerment.
I have also had conversations with some women who have been interested in making swimwear and how they should go about it; meaning there is a market as people are interested.
I see it as positive competition. What matters the most is to be original and authentic, this way you relate well with your customers.
How can you define your personal style?
Ooh! It has changed over time. (Laughs). My personal style is fun, colourful, edgy, curious and sexy. I don’t really have a specific one especially now that I’m in the fashion industry, I tend to throw anything on that matches my vibe and mood.
If you had a chance to start again, what would be different?
To be honest, I wouldn’t do anything differently.
I’m learning every day. It’s a beautiful journey. If I would start again that means going back to square one and for me time is money.
I like every bit of the journey because you get to experience and learn during the process. It shapes you and your brand to do and be better.
As a female business owner, what are your top three priorities?
Ensuring my customer’s satisfaction. Producing good quality products and giving my customers exactly what they need.
How is technology playing a role in your business?
It’s playing a really huge role, especially the social media part of it on Instagram, Facebook, Email and even Tiktok. That’s how I get and communicate with my customers. I also have my website where I display my products for easier access, get reviews and even chat live with my customers in need of assistance.
What is the next chapter for Paxwear Lifestyle?
I want to bring the Kenyan market to the world. That’s something that I’m really looking forward to in the future and hopefully in the next maybe five years I will have a production company here in Kenya. I also see a future full of Paxwear fashion shows.
What advice would you give to any other young people venturing into the fashion industry or any other business?
I would tell them to believe and trust in the process and in themselves. It’s really, really important.
I remember two years ago when I was so scared of starting Paxwear and my first designs were not of the best fits but I worked on them to get better. I believed in the process and I’m glad to be having repeating customers. That assured me that I’m doing great.
Also, get to surround yourself with positive-minded people and be more open to ideas.