Sunday sit-down with… Nadine Umubyeyi of Kadine
We chat with the designer about how fleeing from the Rwandan genocide inspired her to start up her own accessories and homeware brand in the North East.
We’re always wanting to add more colour to our wardrobes.
With the start of each new season comes a renewed desire to accentuate our outfits with autumn golds and deep winter reds, springtime pastels and summertime neons. But more often than not, we fall back on our basic neutrals. And although we can rarely go wrong with our capsule pieces, they can sometimes leave us craving a little more personality in our outfits.
Luckily, we know just the woman to help us bring a splash of colour, energy and life back into our looks, still in a subtle and chic style – Nadine Umubyeyi.
Growing up in Rwanda, surrounded by a lively community who wore bright and colourful clothing every day of the week, Nadine made many fond childhood memories. But when she was 14 years old, the Rwandan genocide hit and her world changed forever. Nadine and her family were forced to leave their home to seek safety in the UK.
Wanting to keep her happy childhood memories alive, Nadine was inspired to set up Kadine – her own fashion, accessories and homeware brand – to bring vibrant colours, culture and couture to the North East. From beautiful bucket bags and stylish scarves to uber-chic cushions, Nadine designs and makes all of her African-inspired pieces by hand – and each and every one is sure to make you or your home stand out from the crowd.
We caught up with Nadine to find out why bringing African-inspired accessories to the region is so important to her, what inspired her to enter into the fashion and design industry, and why she feels lucky to call the North East her home.
What’s Kadine all about?
Kadine is an expression of my personality and love of my African heritage. It’s vibrant and interesting and can lift your spirits. The products you choose reflect your personality and your values. There’s an African-inspired theme, but the creation of the design is instinctual and unique as each product is handmade.
What inspired you to start up Kadine?
In order to make a living when I moved here, I started to practice the skills I had been taught by my grandmother: making and selling items of my own design. I was making various craft products, including crocheted earrings, tablemats, and hats. There was no real plan or theme.
But when I met my partner, Keith – whose background is in new product development and manufacturing – he believed in me, loved my designs, and helped me to express my ideas in a more structured way; in a way that reflected the design themes that were important to us.
He helped to develop my brand, range, website and to find a workshop where the products could be created. Keith takes care of all the boring stuff and I get to be creative! Kadine actually comes from Keith and Nadine.
Where do you find inspiration for your pieces?
I grew up in Rwanda, surrounded by lively people wearing colourful and bright clothes. The designs are inspired by a range of powerful experiences and, although contemporary, they refer to African history and culture and thus reflect the aesthetics of our communities.
What makes your designs different from those that can be found on the high street?
We increase choice by offering variety. There’s no barrier to who can wear these colours or where they can be worn – even if it’s a little colder here than Rwanda! These designs are for anyone who wants their spirits lifted and to stand out from the crowd. Buying from independent designers helps you to have a closer relationship with the things you wear.
What do you enjoy most about the business?
Visualising a design and then making it real. That still seems a little bit magical to me. I also love seeing the pleasure on the faces of our customers when they get their product, and I love hearing about the compliments they receive when they wear them.
What do you love the most about the North East?
Firstly, the people. They’re so friendly and accepting. I’ve been welcomed here and now have many friends. Newcastle is lively and exciting with a buzzing fashion scene, yet we’re so close to the most beautiful countryside and coast. I’m so lucky to be living here.
What’s your top styling tip?
It’s nice and useful to own a design that’s an unusual and different addition to your wardrobe, that’ll draw attention. Perhaps for those occasions when you want to feel bright and lively.
What advice would you give to any women in the North East wanting to get into fashion design?
You must have a passion for design, but that isn’t enough. You must also have the resilience to go through the trial and error of creation. Not everything works first time and, as in most careers, you must put up with a lot of routine, unrewarding, unenjoyable and hard work involved in a making a business successful.
What’s next for Kadine?
Well, the markets are open again! We have new designs and new product categories, such as Hiru bags. Next, we need to update our online material and expand the online business to increase awareness and availability of our products.