By Kye Makyeli
“Give a girl the right shoes and she’ll conquer the world.” Marilyn Monroe.
We all know that shoes are a lady’s best friend and we got word that a good number of feet have been wagging since Nuba Elamin, together with her cousins, Lynn and Tetsi Bugaari came together to conquer the shoe game by starting Buqisi -Ruux, an Ankara- print shoe line. With absolutely no training in fashion, Nuba received her basic early education from various countries like Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique,then proceeded to the UK and US to complete her first degree and then her Masters.
How did you come up with the name ‘Buqisi-Ruux?’
It must have taken us about five months to find a name that represents who we are and the brand. We worked closely with a team of creatives and they suggested a few options and we eventually chose Buqisi-Ruux, which is a combination of how we want women to feel when they wear our shoes. Ruux is short for Rukungiri, our home town – the three of us (co-founders) are cousins and Rukungiri, our family, history and culture is the thread that ties us together.
What inspired you to venture into fashion designing?
As I said, I am not a fashion designer but I thrive off working with new projects and seeing them come to life. I do have an eye for good quality and unique products, and I believe that as Africans we have too much to offer.
All your shoe designs have a unique story behind them. Tell us about that.
Yes, all our shoes are named after African women who are shaping – in one way or another – the future of our continent or are an inspiration to other women. Our first collection, the ‘Kwanza’ collection, was named after women in our family. Family is such an important part of who we are. We come from a very big and very supportive family. These women have loved us, advised us, laughed with us, cried with us, protected us and inspired us, so it came naturally that the Kwanza collection was named after them.
How has specializing in Ankara print shoe designs been a challenge in trying to penetrate the African market?
I think for us, one of the biggest challenges has been production. We don’t have manufacturing companies on the continent that make a variety of heels for women and as a result we have to source outside the continent, which makes the process very long and very expensive. But one of our long-term goals is to produce here in East Africa so hopefully if things work out, we can also have a manufacturing factory that produces a variety of heels.
What advice do you have for any budding fashion entrepreneurs out there?
I didn’t go to business school and this is my first business venture so I still have a lot to learn and can only give advice from my experience thus far. The advice is to “network.” There are so many brilliant minds in Uganda, so many entrepreneurs who are climbing that ladder and many more who are already at the top of that ladder. Talk to them, get advice; we can learn so much from one another.
How do you envision the true African woman?
One of the quotes I live by is “to Define is to limit” – so I cannot define a true African woman in one sentence – a true African woman is many things, but to me some of those things are elegant, confident, bold and unstoppable.
Buqisi – Ruux shoes are available in Kampala, Uganda at Bold which is on the first floor of Acacia Mall in Kisementi and in Nairobi, Kenya at Kung’ara in Karen at the Karen Plains Arcade.
Facebook: Buqisi Ruux