Tag Archives: Mugo Muna

Belts That Matter: Interview with Bora Wear Founder on Kickstarter Campaign

 

As Eleanor Roosevelt eloquently pointed out, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

For Mugo Muna, that future is now…and his beautiful dream is beginning to crystallize into a movement.

He is the founder and CEO of Bora Wear, a start-up company focused on making exceptional, hand crafted belts in Kenya.

He is currently spearheading a Kickstarter campaign looking to raise money to help share his beautiful sense of style with the rest of the world.

Make sure to check out his fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, which has already raised more than $4,000 in just 10 days.

That’s over 20 percent of their intended goal. According to Kickstarter, once a campaign reaches over 20%, there is an 80% chance that it will get funded!!!

So what are you waiting for?

Check out the site and become part of something amazing!

Starting a business is a hard and life changing decision that many of us only dream about. The long hours and sleepless nights often keep most people from pursuing the life of an entrepreneur, but some of the most courageous and ambitious among us ignore any self doubt and commit to making their vision a reality.

en·tre·pre·neur

noun

1. a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.

Farewell, Cornell

I spoke with Mugo a little over two years ago, just a day before he walked across the stage as a graduate of Cornell University.

(Check out PPA’s first story on Bora Wear)

He was charming, down to earth and spoke about returning to Kenya in order to give back with a burning passion.

Since then, he’s returned back to the hub of East Africa, working tirelessly to bring his passion for fashion to life.

He says that he’s “Never satisfied with the way things are and (he’s) obsessed with the way things could be.” With Bora Wear, he’s “focused on making things better than how we found them.”

PPA was fortunate enough to interview Mugo about his journey as an entrepreneur working to spread the beauty of Kenya to the world.

PPA: The last time we spoke, Bora Wear was a company looking to sell shirts and eventually various types of clothing. From your Kickstarter, I read why you had to make the transition to belts…but can you talk about what kept you from giving up.

MM: It’s weird, but it didn’t seem like a worthwhile reason to give up. Like if I were talking to someone later and they asked why I stopped working on Bora Wear. Then I would respond that “I gave up because it was hard” or “I gave up because I couldn’t find a good group”? That’s a poor reason to let the whole thing go. The only reason to give up to me is if Bora Wear can’t sell anything. So we do our best and if that doesn’t work then you move on.

PPA: Do you ever plan to get back into clothing?

Yeah. I still get emails from time to time telling me about how awesome the shirts were. I think there are definitely ways to get back into it, but it would require training people up to the standard that we want and need. It’s possible but just not right now.

PPA: You’ve lived in Kenya for a few years now when previously you were just a visitor. How has your experience in Kenya changed your opinion about the country? Are you one of them or do they still consider you a foreigner?

MM: Hahaha. Definitely still a foreigner. I mean when you tell people that you are going to yoga and they just give you a blank stare, you know that you aren’t “normal” in the Kenyan context. I guess my opinion of Kenya is more love/hate than it had been before. I mean this rigid notion of what men should do and what women should do. I’ve also gone to a couple of weddings where in the middle of the ceremony the pastor will interject how “marriage is only between a man and a woman”. But then on the other hand, you meet so many people doing cool and novel things in the country. You see that Kenya really is growing economically. And coming from Ithaca, the weather here is phenomenal.

PPA: What has helped you deal with the stress of being an entrepreneur.

MMA: Networking with other entrepreneurs definitely helps a lot. You get to commiserate about how each other’s businesses are going. But it also helps just to get out and sweat a little. So I exercise fairly regularly and take any opportunity I can get to break it down on the dance floor.

PPA: When we first spoke, you wanted to hire HIV positive women to produce the shirts…and donate some of the profits to an orphanage in Kenya. Do you still plan to use Bora Wear as a vehicle to help Kenyans? If so, how do you plan on making a difference?

MM: Keeping people working is making a difference. If they weren’t making products, what would they be doing? I think the way to deepen the impact is not just working on a piece by piece basis, but actually employing someone full time. Paying them a living wage. Giving them healthcare. Taking care of the children’s school fees. That way you are giving them a way to decide where there money is most needed.

PPA: Why is $16,836 your fundraising goal…it seems like such a specific number. Does it have a certain significance?

MM: It’s the exact amount to get the belts produced, get everything into people’s hands, pay the artisans, pay my designer, and pay me enough to survive for a little while longer.

PPA: What is your long term vision for Bora Wear?

MM: The vision is to be world class. Not just to be good, but to make something that can’t be replicated anywhere else. To have people coming to look at our processes and trying to figure out how we managed to make it work.

Pick your style

PiliPili

After the brass is shined and polished, it is finished off with a hammer. This process creates a series of dimples over the surface of the metal. It is truly a unique and elegant design.

Tamu

This style retains the character of the mold that created it. Every shift and contour makes its way into the brass. Since each mold is destroyed, each piece is unique and cannot be replicated in the exact same way.

Safi

Ground and polished to a shine. The Safi  has an immaculate feel and shines through in its own way.

PPA: What would need to happen for you to call Bora Wear a success?

In the short term, getting the Kickstarter funded. In the long term, being able to step back from day to day operations and the company being able to function without me would definitely be a success.

PPA: What makes Bora Wear stand out from the competition?

MM: I mean these products have a soul to them. You can see the human hands behind what you are wearing. The manufacturer pays the artisans a living wage. The leather is high quality and local. Each mold is destroyed after the belt is made, making each belt one-of-a-kind. And all the artisans are trained from a local slum here in Nairobi called Kibera. You can’t find anything else quite like it.

PPA: Is there any other information that you can tell us about Bora Wear that people who are thinking about donating should know?

MM: It’s not a donation. By backing the Kickstarter, you are becoming part of the journey. You get to join in on the ground level. You are making this whole thing happen. This process is all or nothing. So if we don’t get a 100% then we don’t get anything. If you can, back the project and share it with your friends!

Bora Wear asks, “What if we could make men’s belts here in Kenya that not only look great but also support local artisans? Wouldn’t that be amazing?”

Answer that question by heading over to their Kickstarter page and making a contribution today! You can earn some amazing rewards while helping out a great cause.

Don’t forget to like their Facebook Page, follow them on Twitter and visit their website!

Mugo appreciates your support! High five on 3 
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