DESIGNER SHERIA NGOWI EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH JESTINA GEORGE...!!!

Sheria Ngowi the genius behind 'Sheria Brand'
JESTINA: TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF:  WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL?  YOUR FAMILY BACKGROUND, WORK HISTORY, PERSONALITY?
SN: Sheria Ngowi (Born as Walter Thomas Ngowi on October 1st, 1982 the second of five children). I am a Tanzanian fashion designer and Founder of the Sheria Ngowi Brand. I was raised in a middle-class family of the Late Mr. Thomas Kishari Ngowi and Mrs. Mary Mathias Kessy. My Father was a lawyer while my mother was a Bank Accountant. I studied Law but my career has taken the path of Fashion Designing.
JESTINA: WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO BECOME A FASHION DESIGNER?
SN: My interest in Fashion has been with me for as long as I can remember, My parents were also an influence especially my father who had a love for fashion and sense of style which inspired me a lot. I remember styling my parents before they left the house for any event and pretty soon I was the family stylist this made me realize I had a talent in Fashion 
JESTINA: TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY TO ACTUALIZING YOUR DREAM OF BECOMING A FASHION DESIGNER.
SN: My career famously began in 2008 when I debuted my designs for both women and men under Brand name Sheria Na Mavazi in Mysore, India. So Sheria Na Mavazi stands for Dressing Principles or Regulations. In 2009, I launched my first professional collection under my own name Sheria Ngowi Designs. The Collection was a dedication to my late father who was the driving force behind my love for fashion. I decided to focus on one gender at a time to ensure that I put my all into each of the collections and the women's collection is on the way.
                                                                                                                                                                                            
Sheria with his latest collection 'Year of the Gentleman'
JESTINA: EVERYDAY, THERE IS A NEW FASHION LABEL SPRINGING UP, WHAT SETS SHERIA NGOWI APART?
SN: Well ,my designs are heavily influenced by the past. So I blend modern trends with the classic vintage looks and incorporate numerous colors. That is the main difference, trying to be playful with menswear which is quite rare in the fashion world as of now. 
JESTINA: WHERE HAVE YOU POSITIONED YOURSELF IN THE MARKET? HIGH END OR AFFORDABLE FOR THE EVERYDAY WOMAN? WHAT IS YOUR PRICE RANGE?
SN: I think both; but the most challenging aspect has to be the financial side of the business. I’m not sure many people realize just how expensive it is to properly run a brand. At the end of the day this is a business and as a designer not only should I know about the designing and the creative aspects of the brand but also the financial and marketing sides of the brand. 
As a designer I need to deal carefully with the production side of the business. The designs have to be made according to my vision and standards; the cost of production has to be managed so that the clothes that come out are affordable but also of the best quality. Right now I am working on making my clothes on a large scale and my price range will start from 300$ -2000$ but depends with the cost of production as i said it before.
JESTINA: WHO IS THE SHERIA NGOWI MAN?
SN: Sheria Ngowi is someone whose collection is luxurious and sophisticated yet from another time.I made my designs for men who are sophisticated,there was no lack of restraint in the shapes or in the looks,I offered a collection where every detail is accentuated,making men look good without ever giving them an affected or ridiculously disguised look.My Suits are classic and well built Daring youthful silhouettes.Uses of slim-fit check shirts,slim ties and bow ties are details that make my collection simple and unique;glasses and bags contribute to the image of a refined,relaxed man.
The Sheria Ngowi Men
JESTINA:  ANYTHING FOR THE LADIES?
SN: Women's collection is on the way.
JESTINA: WHERE HAVE YOU DRAWN INSPIRATION FROM FOR YOUR DESIGNS?
SN: So many sources but it primarily comes from my late Father who was an incredibly stylish man and cause he used to love fashion and sense of style which inspired me a lot.I get my inspiration also from a lot of things. It often evolves out of seeing a single button or fabric or trimming which triggers an idea for a design. I never spend a lot of time stressing about what sort of “theme” one of my collections is going to have. The ideas are always there and ready to flow when I start sketching. 
JESTINA: DESCRIBE YOUR OWN PERSONAL STYLE AND TELL US HOW IT HAS INFLUENCED  YOUR COLLECTION.
SN: Simple and Classic.
JESTINA: IF YOU COULD HAVE ANYONE IN THE WORLD MODEL YOUR COLLECTION WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
SN: I think US President Barack Obama is one of the most fashionable and fittest presidents we have seen. I think a lot of men are paying attention to how he dresses.
'Fashionable' Barak Obama
JESTINA: WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE BIGGEST TRENDS THIS SEASON?
SN: Women fashion trends for 2011 are maxi dresses for these summer, hot pants and shorts, jumpsuits and playsuits, sheer fabrics and lace material on tight body fitting dresses. I would also like to see ladies playing with all sorts of accessories from African beads to gold and silver bangles, oversized sunglasses are still much in fashion and the trend will live on in 2011. In 2011 the trends will continue to be bolder therefore ladies should experiment more and try things like blazers, military inspired coats and patterned and print pants. 
-Men's fashion trends differ a great deal from women’s. With men trends change at a slower pace than women. Men can therefore afford to wear pieces for many seasons without looking out of style. In 2011 men’s fashion is still  more on the classic side with Suits continuing to be slim and following the body’s silhouette. Fabrics for suits are continue to be linen, cotton and velvet. On the casual side people must focus on being minimalistic with few complications on the look, so a simple linen blazer with a v neck tee, a pair of corduroy pants with loafers / leather sandals and a pair of sunglasses will suffice to turn people’s heads. 
JESTINA: WHAT TRENDS WILL WE SEE IN YOUR COLLECTION?CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU ON THIS NEW ACHIEVEMENT “YEAR OF THE GENTLEMAN!”
SN: Oh thank you; My collection will always be classic and well built Daring youthful silhouettes with more uses of slim-fit check shirts,slim ties and bow ties are details that always will make my collection simple and unique.
JESTINA: HOW LONG DID YOUR COLLECTION TAKE TO MAKE?
SN: It takes a lot of time. The first time when i see everything put together i finally say, 'Oh my God, it works!' Because it has been a long process, when it is finished you think, 'Finally, it is done!'
JESTINA: WHAT MATERIALS HAVE YOU USED FOR YOUR COLLECTION?
SN: Linen, Velvet, Cotton, Silk & Satin 
JESTINA: GIVE US THE DETAILED STORY BEHIND THE COLLECTION?
SN: “For me a gentleman is someone who’s polite, intelligent, talented, modest, well dressed, well groomed, and culturally aware. So I’ve taken that role into my own hands. I’m here to help, to advise, and to generally aid men in their quest to better themselves and become gentlemen. I want to save everyone else the effort I’ve been through and give them a one-stop resource for everything they need to known.
Sheria rocking Sheira Brand
JESTINA: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE  JG  READERS ON CHOOSING SUITABLE OUTFITS AND COLOURS FOR THEIR BODY TYPE?
SN: If you really like wearing something quite out there,be sure you can carry it off and that it actually looks good on you.The best way to judge is to never think that you're dressing for other people; It's not, it's for you.You make and break your image.Dont be afraid to mix and match.Nowadays not everyone wants total looks.You should always mix brands and seasons,new pieces with vintage ones.
JESTINA: HOW OFTEN WILL YOU RELEASE A COLLECTION?
SN: Soon before the end of this year.
JESTINA: WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED IN DEVELOPING YOUR BRAND SO FAR?
SN: The most challenging aspect has to be the financial side of the business. I’m not sure many people realize just how expensive it is to properly launch a brand. At the end of the day  this is a business and as a designer not only should I know about the designing and the creative aspects of the brand but also the financial and marketing sides of the brand. 
-As a designer I need a business person as my partner, someone with a solid knowledge of the industry, and extensive experience negotiating deals and handling legal and financial issues. I have people who I trust and who advise me on my business.
-Another challenge is dealing with the production side of the business. The designs have to be made according to my vision and standards; the cost of production has to be managed so that the clothes that come out are affordable but also of the best quality. Right now I am working on making my clothes on a large scale in conjunction with the opening of my flagship store in Dar- es- salaam sometime this year. 
Sheria (right) with model doing what he does best
JESTINA: HAS THE BAD ECONOMY THE WORLD IS FACING SO FAR AFFECTED YOUR WORK DIRECTLY?
SN: Going through the recession means that people are having to shape their own opinion and that has definitely been lacking recently. Instead people have been looking up to specific people that they would aspire to be like but it's not being themselves. Innovation is such an important tool. There is a change every 10 or 15 years and that is what is happening now. It's exciting to go through because people are more likely to push the boundaries and I always love taking risks. It's really interesting at the moment. It's evolving very fast. In any business at the moment you need to be sharp and have an innovative way of doing things.
JESTINA: WHY HAVE YOU DECIDED TO BASE YOUR PRODUCTION IN INDIA?
SN: Because of cheap labour and availability of raw materials.
JESTINA: POOR DISTRIBUTION AND PRODUCTION IS A PROBLEM THAT CONTINUES TO  PLAGUE THE INDUSTRY, HOW IS SHERIA NGOWI COPING WITH THESE PROBLEMS?
SN: You have to create something that the customer feels an emotional attachment to when he/she looks at it and wears it. Individuality is such an important key to brands today and one of the reasons i need to put under big considaration.The craftsmanship and creative freedom is so important at the moment. By being innovative i believe i can keep my customers even in these  problems.
Hot brand Sheria
JESTINA: DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEAS ON HOW THESE PROBLEMS CAN BE SOLVED?
SN: We need to get goverment support especially by reducing tax and revenues in all imports and exports of raw materials in the production side. The designs have to be made according to demand of the customers and in a very good standards; the cost of production has to be managed so that the clothes that come out are affordable but also of the best quality. 
JESTINA: WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR SHERIA NGOWI & WHERE DO  YOU SEE THE BRAND IN  THE  NEXT 5 YEARS?
SN: I love the history of my brand I want to bring a modern twist and I have to move on. As   the founder wouldn't still be repeating what I was doing from 2008-2011. I want to bring a fresh element to it while cultivating the true DNA of the brand. All aspects should be modern and fresh. Clothes are a communication tool and I want to create something special. 
I see my brand being eligible to apply for all the important Fashion weeks hosted around the world and i am looking forward to being a part of it. My biggest wish is to have my name in an International Fashion Platform, so that my grand kids and their friends could see that it is okay to follow a belief and for my country to be proud of me as a Tanzanian." 
JESTINA: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE ANYONE TRYING TO START THEIR OWN LABEL?
SN: They should go deep inside themselves and find what they really love to do. If you do things from your heart you can make things happen. You can change the world because you have the power and the power comes from within you. They say that if you work hard everything is possible.
JESTINA: ANY MESSAGE FOR JG BLOG READERS?
SN: ''Being Fashionable is one thing,and being stylish is another;but being oneself is the most important''
JESTINA: WHERE CAN WE BUY “SHERIA NGOWI” BRANDS?
SN: Soon this year I will launch my flagship store in Dar- es- salaam, followed by my official online store where customers will be able to purchase my products directly online. This will be done in conjunction with my fashion show which will be the first of its kind in Tanzania.
JESTINA: IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD JUST INCASE WE FORGOT TO ASK?
SN: Don’t give up on your dreams. Be the change that you want to see.
Thank you very much Jestina George(Shukurani sana).
Thanks for your time Sheria & I wish you all the best.
JG
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For more on Sheria Ngowi visit www.sherianamavazi.blogspot.com
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