Ramah Hassan is a man of many talents. He is a creative, filmmaker and proprietor of LeKasri, a bespoke suits-making company in Kenya.
Hassan has always has an interest in good fashion and a good eye for well-tailored garments. The scarcity or lack thereof of the perfect suit for his wedding was what he terms as the “aha” moment for him and his business. He figured that there must have been plenty of other people with a similar problem, and that is how LeKasri was born.
Since then, the brand has grown to become a leader in the creation of bespoke suits in Kenya. In close to a decade of its existence, the brand has brought a fresh designer attitude to the traditional skills of suit tailoring, dressing some of the most prominent personalities in the country, including the Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga.
DON'T MISS: Stay informed with the latest news and interact with us on Instagram.
With an economy still reeling from the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, WoK spoke to Ramah about his entrepreneurial journey and how he has managed to stay afloat over the years.
What do you think sets your brand apart from others?
I think when someone entrusts and invites you to be a part of their journey be it a job interview suit or a wedding day suit, that’s a huge undertaking, we always give 101% when working on any project but we take such invites very seriously.
We usually sit down with a client as they take us through their vision, our job is to bring that to life. Kasri means castle in swahili we make every gentleman that walks through that door feel like a king.
Where do you source your fabric?
We source fabric from various countries including Australia, China and Italy.
JOIN US: Stay informed with the latest Kenyan news and join the conversation on Telegram.
As an experienced expert in this field, how would you describe a good suit?
I think Expert is a huge statement. I know people use that term loosely but we like to consider ourselves as students because I think we are always learning something new with every new client that we get. In my opinion, a good suit should fit you right. It can’t be too tight or too baggy. A suit should be comfortable, a comfortable suit gives you confidence. Fabric and craftsmanship play a very big role in achieving these qualities. Decent fabric and canvassing are key.
Other than suits, what else do you make?
We have sister brands BLKBURDGENES, NAROK NYC, LK44 that do casual-wear. We also work with an American brand called A REAL ONE by activist Shun King and others.
What qualities do you think have helped you to keep afloat for all this while?
The brand will hit ten years of existence this December. What has kept us alive is discipline, constructive criticism, commitment and reliability. We are able to tell a client to come in at 8 am and they will find us in the office at that time. We also like our work to speak for itself. That way we are able to get return clients and lots of referrals.
Do you only operate locally or are your services also available outside Kenya?
I think the advancement of technology has opened up the world. The fact that we can get clients’ measurements via zoom or WhatsApp is a game-changer. Because of this, we are able to cater to clients from all corners of the globe.
Like any other business, I reckon you have had hurdles along the way. What are some of the challenges you have faced in this business?
COVID-19 was definitely our biggest challenge. At the height of the pandemic, we were out of business for a whole year. Fortunately, we did not close down, but we went for a whole year without making suits. We recovered a bit later, but that period was definitely the worst. COVID-19 also pushed us to diversify and make casual garments through our affiliates as I mentioned earlier.
Other challenges include the high cost of importation. The multiple operating licenses and high costs of fabric are also barriers that unfortunately not many people can overcome.
The situation can definitely be alleviated by reducing production costs, reducing importation costs and enabling locals to make affordable clothing locally.
What is the future of LeKasri?
I am sure the future is bright for us. I do not want to limit the brand by mentioning specifics, but LeKasri will definitely grow bigger and better.
This past weekend you had a very interesting shoot going on. Tell us a bit about that.
Fashion is an art. Everyone experiences a form of art in their everyday life. We do photoshoots every 6 months. Our recent photoshoot featured the concept of eloping. We used a couple, Joel Williams, an amazing bike stunts guru and media personality Pinky Ghelani, both dressed by LeKasri, to bring the concept to life through a vibrant photoshoot.
What would be your advice for young people who want to make it in whatever industry they are in?
I think patience is a very important trait that leads to success. My late mum used to say, “You can never call a young man useless because you do not know their tomorrow.” I think she meant that we all have special abilities that can propel us to success.
My mentor used to tell me at the beginning of my career that by that time my career would take seven years to take off. Again, emphasizing the importance of patience and staying still.
I also think that having a mentor is very important for any person seeking to make it. Having someone who is really good at what you are trying to do will help you get to your desired point by pinpointing where the potholes are and advising on what works and what doesn’t. That is my advice for the young people trying to make it.