One of my favorite people I’ve met in Nairobi is Crane, an incredibly kind-hearted and hardworking person who has dreams to re-establish his fashion businesses. Before he fled to Kenya as a refugee, he was a well-known designer who also ran a successful modeling agency.
Many knew him and his beautiful kitenge designs for both men and women across Uganda. Those who went through his modeling agency often found themselves at the doors of success in the modeling world. When I saw pictures and videos of his previous work, it was no wonder why! It was clear he was talented beyond words.
Now, on the outskirts of Nairobi, he has found his creative space and is well on the road to re-establishing himself. Community members and beyond are rocking his designs – a range of casual t-shirts, dresses, and formal wear. Even his modeling agency has seen tremendous growth over the last few months since we had last met!
Crane is a leader with a beautiful mission: his business Lunko Haute Couture is running a safe space committed to training others in tailoring and design. If members of the LGBTIQ community find themselves on the street and have a deep desire to learn skills related to fashion, they have a place in the small apartment and training program.
After speaking to Crane and Kenn, who currently lives in the Lunko Haute Couture apartment, it was clear that the addition of another sewing machine would be incredibly helpful – recent events have brought additional people into the Lunko Couture safe house, and there was simply more demand.
We took Crane shopping for a new machine, and he already had one all picked out – he had been borrowing a certain type every so often from a local shop-owner that saw his talent, so he was excited about getting a shot at his own.
From our end, we’re so excited and proud to be a part of Crane’s journey back to the kind of success he so deserves!
Meet Shamaila! Shamaila is part of the Global Connections team based out of Minneapolis. She supports partnerships and fundraising for Alight’s initiatives with the diaspora, LGBTIQ+ refugees, Rohingya women, and beyond! She is deeply passionate about supporting the most marginalized communities worldwide – those living in the shadows — to reclaim their voice and has found Changemakers 365 a powerful tool to support this. Want to learn more about our work with marginalized communities in Nairobi? Contact Shamaila at firstname.lastname@example.org.