1. What’s your name and where are you from?
Our names are Chishimba Carvelo Katongo & Karen Shula. We are from the rich continent of Africa in a country called Zambia.
2.What is the name of your Fashion Design and or Company?
Our brands called Eggzekitive Rob clothing
3. What type of fashion does your brand specialize in?
Our brand is a unisex Afrocentric brand that specializes in classic gentlemen’s casual and formal wear and elegant and funky feminine wear.
4. Did/do you study fashion? Or business?
None of us are studying fashion. Carvelo is a third year civil engineering student. Karen is a third year international trade and economics student.
5. How did your journey begin?
Well the journey begun in 2013 with me Carvelo. I had just completed my high school education and I noticed, all my life, whenever I had events, parties, weddings or even a mere Sunday church service, I always wanted to stand out from the crowd through my outfit. I strongly disliked common brands worn by my peers. When I had a piece of clothing I never wanted to find in with anyone else.
That was the moment I realized the only way to achieve that is having my own brand. I always had a unique sense of style which people found a little crazy; but I wanted to influence them with my style; and owning my own brand would be the only way to attain this dream.
6. What’s the story behind your brand?
I had just come to China early 2015 to begin my studies and I had been holding the dream within me for a while; until I met a young lady by the name of Karen Shula who had come to China at the same time as I did.
I got to know her and was emotionally attracted to her. We went on as friends and I later expressed my feelings. With luck on my side I was accepted. As the new relationship unfolded I shared the dream with her. She loved the concept because she grew up knitting clothes for her dolls and also participated in a lot of d.i.y competitions in school and artistic fashion sketching.
The name Executive Rob spelled Eggzekitive Rob means a high class garment worn by high profile people. The word Rob is derived from a very important garment which symbolized royalty in the bible.
7. How long have you been doing business in China?
We have been doing business in China for almost 3 years now
8. Which Chinese city do you live in?
I live in Linan city, a small city about 40 minutes from Hangzhou.
9. How and why did you start in China?
I believe that everything that’s important should be written down or scribbled somewhere. We first made sure we had a proper plan. We made connections with affordable and high quality suppliers and manufactures to give us the materials we needed to equip ourselves.
Why did we start the brand in China- there a lot of reasons as towhy; but one of the key most reasons is China is a really friendlyplace to start a business. Materials are readily available and allinfrastructures are in place in terms of internet connectivity, whichmakes advertising very easy. Also, there are secure modes of payments and very reliable courier services.
10. What is it like doing business in China?
Doing business in China has been an interesting journey that has enabled us to travel the country and mingle with different kinds of people and cultures. Because of these factors we strive to make sure we produce a very satisfactory product that our clients can be happy with. We deal with people of different classes, connections, students, expatriates, business men and women.
11. Do you speak Chinese?
Yes I do speak Chinese, which is my strength, while my partner Karen reads and writes Chinese- her strength in the Chinese language.
12. How does speaking Chinese affect you doing business in China?
Being able to speak Chinese is very important as a business person in China. It has been of great help in terms of explaining what I really want from the suppliers, negotiating with suppliers, bargaining, and also dealing with courier companies when dispatching clients' orders. I would advise anyone looking at starting a business in china to make sure they polish the Chinese speaking skills.
13. How does being a foreigner affect you doing business in China?
Being a foreigner doing business in China really affects us in certain ways like limitation in participation at expos and trade shows due to lack of interest in the goods that we produce. Secondly, using high marketing platforms like Taobao, J.D., and Tmall, you may not possess all the relevant documents that Chinese nationals have, but nonetheless, things are beginning to open up.
Another disadvantage is, as Africans, we are seen to be from one country and not separate countries; and a bad experience of one Chinese national with an African lets them carry the stereotype that all Africans are bad.
14. How was your experience showcasing at Shanghai Black Fashion Week?
Showcasing at the Shanghai Black Fashion Week is a great experience for us. We really learned a lot from the the event- connected with different people, shared ideas with other designers, and also interacted with customers.
We would like to thank the organizers Benjamin, TaVanni, Hu John, and everybody who worked hard to make the event a success. We are already preparing for SBFW 18 and wish the event can grow and expand to be bigger and better every year.
15. Are you afraid that your products and or designs may be counterfeited and or knocked-off in China?
We are certainly not afraid of any one duplicating our work because we take that as a compliment of our work. Early this year a customer from Zambia duplicated our male kaftan for his wedding. He contacted us about 3 to 4 months prior to his wedding requesting we make him a kaftan.
We sent available designs and he stole the designs and submitted them to a tailor who tried to make the same garment but failed to produce it as it should have been. We weren’t hurt- we were motivated. People will only duplicate it if it's good and attractive.
16. How do you control and maintain the quality of your products
during the manufacturing process?
At Eggzekitive Rob clothing, we always strive to give customers value for their money and total satisfaction. We closely assess our fabric choices for every design. We also pay precise attention to our design choices. Some designs make look fancy when illustrated on paper but would not fit perfectly into a person’s daily life. Our third quality control measure is to make sure we test every new design by having our own personal outfits first before we can roll them out on the market.
17. What's special or different about your designs?
Wow awesome question. It kind of reminds me of one of the reasons I ventured into fashion- to enable my mind to think beyond its perimeters. I love challenges and fashion tosses new challenges my way everyday because it evolves with time.
Our designs are creative because we want our customers to look unique whenever they wear Eggzekitive Rob clothing. All of our designs are custom made and we avoid repeating what we have done before.
19. Where can the public find your designs?
We advertise widely on a lot of convenient platforms because we are in China. Wechat is the most used platform so we are trading on a Wechat integrated online shop called Weidian in Chinese.
We mostly update our collection on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Our website is still under construction and we shall notify the public once it's up and running. We can also confirm to have our clothes featured in a Botswana online store called Quasars early 2018
20. Are you on social media?
Wechat at ch62142
Instagram:Eggzekitive Rob Clothing
Facebook: Eggekitive Rob
21. Any other comments?
We appreciate everyone that has supported us from the the inception of the brand and others that tagged along. We wish we could individually name them but the list is endless. We are always working hard because of their unconditional support.
Lastly, we would like to encourage everyone that has a dream or passion to never to sit back and wait for a miracle to bring it to life. Go out there, get out of your comfort zone, and invest every little time or coin required to achieve it. The start will never be easy but one day you will look back and appreciate that fact that you started.
A big Thank you to you Fashion Legallaire Blog for featuring our story in your. We are thankful.