Ndeshipanda Fikameni’s Afroprint Line is an emerging Afrocentric, eco-friendly fashion brand leaving an iconic but sustainable mark on the design world
Namibian designer Ndeshipanda Fikameni’s Afroprint Line is a proudly Afrocentric fashion brand borne out of her love for African fashion – particularly bright colours and prints. While many would shrug their shoulders at not finding bags, hats or dresses in African prints, such as the Oshiwambo ondelela, this gap in the fashion market motivated Fikameni to launch her brand in 2018. Creating eye-catching, custom-made and environmentally conscious items makes Ndeshi one of Namibia’s growing crop of fashion designers who want to make people look great in clothes but not at the expense of harming the planet.
Fikameni recently spoke to UNIC Windhoek about Afroprint Line and being a designer in the time of COVID-19.
Thank you for joining us. First things first, where does Ndeshi come from? What inspired your entrepreneurship?
I was born and raised by a single mom and four wonderful siblings in Tsumeb. My mom sold vetkoek and sweets as a ‘side hustle’ to make sure I went to the best school. Her hard work, persistence and business model were simple but effective. I learned a lot from that.
Tell us about the beginnings of Afroprint Line.
I started making my own line of bags using up-cycled offcuts from local designers and tailors such as Ingo Shanyenge. He would always say “Thank you for cleaning up our space”. After positive feedback from clients within and beyond Namibia, I went on to create backpacks, t-shirts, and hoodies.
Since then, I have had great support from the founders of Kasi Vibe Namibia as my mentors to my wonderful clients and social media family.
How did you get into upcycling?
I am very cautious about the environment; it was second nature to include upcycling in my business model for Afroprint Line.
Describe your design aesthetic and ethos?
Afroprint items are unique, functional, and affordable. I make items that look good but also have a function. They are something the customer can use.
As a creative and business owner, what lessons have you learned from the COVID-19 pandemic?
Never to be comfortable! Change is the only constant, anything can happen at any given time so make the most of the good days.
How were you able keep your brand relevant during restrictions/lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Luckily, social media was not on lockdown, so I maximized my social media tools to engage with customers, boost advertising etc.
What has been the highlight in your career so far?
“This feature is part of a series where the UN Namibia will highlight local goods or service providers in support of the Buy Local Grow Namibia campaign and who we believe are actively working toward the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The Buy Local, Grow Namibia campaign supports growth in the production and consumption of Namibian goods and services”