“I’ve always done art, since second grade. I watched my older brother do cartoon graphics, and the world of art and design sucked me in.”
Meet Ruth of Blackfly. Soft-spoken yet authoritative in what she wants and her vision for her brand, Ruth is a true artist. In her workshop along Lagiri rd., we ask her how she manages to be so creative with her design ideas, to which she smiles and says, “Well, the fabric tells me what to do…I can tell whether it will look better as a bag, or a dress or jacket…I just visualise it.”
The brand, which started in 2012, has grown slowly to encompass a myriad of colourful pieces of clothing, as well as bags of all types from small purses to larger tote bags. This organic growth has happened with almost no marketing, relying on word of mouth to prove the age-old Swahili adage, ‘Chema chajiuza…’ (Good sells itself). One thing worthy of note is that all these pieces are ‘one-off’, a uniqueness that offers each customer an individuality they won’t get elsewhere. Oh, and might we add she has begun designing and printing her own fabrics too?
Ruth’s background in industrial design cemented a belief in her that, “…design is meant to solve problems,” and so she ensures each piece she crafts has a purpose and a use beyond just being fashionable. All her products are wholly or in part made from recycled material. Her structured bags are also crafted to ensure organisation (which woman doesn’t know the struggle of rummaging through their bag?) and practicality for everyday use, while still being so beautiful they are works of art in and of themselves.
With a growing brand, a team to lead and a main role in the designing aspect, we’re curious… when does she find time to relax? “I don’t unwind,” she says with a laugh, “I study fashion in my free time… I love to see a satisfied client walk away and know I had a hand in it.”
The community feel at Blackfly is also something that stands out. Ruth describes her team as family, adding that each individual is valued and knows it, ensuring smooth relations and a work ethic you wouldn’t get from ‘employees’. This dedication is easy to see in the camaraderie and banter in the workshop as they cut, measure and stitch the vibrant fabrics, transforming the raw material into finished products with impeccable workmanship.
“I think it’s time…I want to take Blackfly to the world,” Ruth states simply, albeit with her eyes alight with passion, “I’m driven by the idea of what the brand could become. There’s so much more we can do.” And with her vision, her drive and the team she has built, we believe it too.
Ruth has come a long way, from the little girl who was bitten by the art bug to a young lady bursting with potential and ideas that you really must see and experience for yourself. Wapi? Blackfly.