Dominic Kavugwi, 30


Frederick Bittiner Wear

Dominic is a man of the people. It was the main reason he ditched his aspiration to be an accountant.

“I left high school excited about accounting. When I found out that the job involved being in one place, away from people, I knew I wouldn’t make it.”

Dismayed but full of energy, the 18-year-old began earnestly looking for an alternative career, stumbling upon insurance selling, a profession that would allow him to interact with people. He acquired two professional certificates in insurance and financial services from an international trade organisation.

“With the certifications, I joined the insurance industry, where I’ve been working as a bancassurance expert since 2013. I’ve worked in various roles starting at Barclays Kenya, CIC Insurance Company, and now at UAP Old Mutual.”

"“Pick the right partners at the start of anything you put your hand to.""

But as he’s been rising in the insurance industry, he has had his eye on the fashion industry. Creative since he was a child, he saw fashion as a delightful way of expressing himself.

In 2019, he founded Frederick Bittiner Wear, a Kenyan fashion brand that manufactures and sells high-quality, classy, and affordable apparel. Using the strategy, sales, and marketing skills gained from his job, he has built a fashion house that releases 14 new designs every week.

“Months into the business, I saw that though we had the skills, the industry lacked proper strategies and marketing objectives. Herein, I found the sweet blend of my skills and passion.”

And for the past three years, he’s been using his skills to make the industry profitable through the Startup Designer Package initiative.

“We work with small designers to help them create their own fashion houses. We work with them to design, manufacture and sell the clothes. Empowering the designers became more apparent especially when the government banned the importation of used clothes during the pandemic.”

So far, he has trained, 40 designers. This, and his 30 employees, are his greatest successes. His work has also been featured in the New York Times. In five years, he sees Frederick Bittiner Wear as a hub for fashion creatives in East Africa.

Recently, he was appointed to the board of the Kenya Fashion Council as the Executive Director to shape the growth of the fashion industry through proper strategic management.

Married with two children, when he is not working, Dominic is at his village in Vihiga reliving his childhood memories.

His advice? “Pick the right partners at the start of anything you put your hand to. Secondly, use your skills to commercialise your passion and finally, get employees who trust in your vision.”

Purity wanjohi