Ituze Ndutiye Colombe Speaks to Innov8tiv Regarding Fashion, Business Skills & Tech
Tell us about yourself
My name is Ituze Ndutiye Colombe, I am the founder and creative director at INCO fashion, a label under INCO icyusa ltd. In 2009, I was recognized as the youngest designer at the 1st edition of Rwanda Fashion Festival that attracted fashion gurus from different African countries and Europe.
I was also awarded the 2013 fashion and style Role model by the Diva Award Afrika. In 2014, I was selected among 6 fellows to represent Rwanda in the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, a program initiated by President Barack Obama. In May this year, I plan to launch “The 1000n1 Signatures” initiative, which is intended to confront challenges and provide solutions for fashion designers and artists who are facing the dilemma of accessing both the local and international market.
1000n1 Signatures will function as a physical store and online platform to promote and expose fashion designers. United with one common cause to showcase unique creations, become self-sufficient and boost the country’s economy.
Ituze, you are the definition of technology meeting fashion. Tell us more about Rwanda Workforce Development Authority (WDA) and how you started working in fashion.
I have had a passion to draw since I was very young, all I wanted was to have a career that would allow me to draw. Sometimes I thought I wanted to become a cartoonist. However, we didn’t have any academic art porgrammes when I was in high school. My next passion was to follow technical studies because my preferred subject was physics. Therefore I followed the electronics and telecommunication route in high school.
After I graduated from high school, I met a fashion designer from Belgium who was visiting Rwanda and loved her work, and I knew that if I had a chance to follow what I wanted I would have gone to fashion school. Unfortunately, there weren’t any here and I couldn’t afford international studies, therefore my second option was to follow the IT course. I was later hired in the IT instructors department in WDA, which was a great networking opportunity and an exciting way to practice what I had learned from my IT trainings. I used some of my savings to then start my business.
Since you have a passion in both fields, how do you juggle both careers?
I love both. I enjoy the learning and challenging aspects within the IT field, and the way you can continue to discover more. And I have an insane passion for the Fashion industry that I just cannot fight. It is very warming to see it growing over the years from when I started to now.
Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
In 2012 I was selected to be among the designers who dressed Miss Rwanda contestants, it was a very warming experience and honor, a year later, Diva Afrika awarded me as Rwanda Fashion and style role model. In 2014 I was selected to represent Rwanda in YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative Network) as well. All of these opportunities were great motivators, reminding me that our effort is recognized and this to keep going.
I believe the greatest achievement of my career is “The 1000n1 Signatures.” I introduced it based on my personal experience and the challenges I faced as a startup. Rwanda is a nation filled with hidden talents that are yet to be discovered; it is a country where many fashion designers call home. The dilemma lies where a large percentage of young talented designers are barely able to reach out to the market, despite their efforts, because they are financially unable to rent a shop in the city. They have to resort to working from their houses, unseen from the market. I am one of those who have faced this, and that is why I want to open this store to unlock and highlight all of Rwanda’s potential designers.
What was the most difficult period in your Career life, and how did you deal with it?
The most difficult part was when I started. I knew I had a passion, I knew I wanted to do it, but did not know where to start. I would knock on the wrong doors and I would get the wrong answers as well. I was lucky to follow the PTB (Peace Through Business Program) where I leant how to write a business plan, which I then had to implement. This really equipped me with basic business tools and skills to get me on the way.
In your experience, what do you think is severely lacking within the Tech Communities?
The hands-on practice courses are really lacking, most of the time when you learn in schools you are not given practical examples which relate to real life. Student need to understand how and why they will apply the lessons learned to be motivated.
What is your career advice to college students studying technology?
I would recommend for them to approach professionals in their field to learn from them, so they can relate the class theory to the gain experience. This way they can learn the trends on the market and where the market is going. This can help them define which path they want to take in their studies and apply it to their passion.
— INCO Fashion (@inco_fashion) January 9, 2015