If you ever find yourself along Kikuyu road, near the Dagoretti corner, you can take your sweet time to pay a visit to TOMOLLO Fashion house.
There, you will be welcomed with open arms by the owners, Christine Omollo and Tom Byrne.
Inside, your eyes will be dazzled by the ready-to-wear, made to measure outfits that grace the shelves.
You will find everything, from crochet dresses, tops, beanies, sweaters, and men’s classic shirts, to Safari bags and dresses made from discarded denim fabrics and trousers.
In this article, WoK delves into the fascinating journey of TOMOLLO Fashions and the values that drive their success.
A Cultural Fusion for Sustainable Fashion
According to Christine Omollo, the idea behind TOMOLLO fashions was born out of the many back and forth creative conversations and online workshops the two founders had during the COVID pandemic.
That was when they came to the realization that comfort, style and functionality are key and indistinguishable bedfellows.
Their fashion creations lie in the unique fabrics they design.
“We sell experiences and reflect causes that are impactful such as our Kufufua (Swahili for ‘Resurrect’) denim collection made from recycled denim pants.
Our crocheted beanies, winter cardigans and scarves are manufactured for us by paid university students as a commendable resource” said the founders.
From Science to Fashion
Christine Omollo’s journey to becoming a fashion designer was far from conventional.
In an interview, she revealed that during her school days, she was what one might call a ́science kid.
Her parents were teachers but always well dressed. From an early age, Christine noticed and loved that they were simple yet very elegant. For instance, her mum made her own wedding dress.
“I remember this maxi silk dress that she wore on so many Sundays to church and it was apparently a gift my Dad bought her for their anniversary and another one she got a singer sewing machine!” she said.
After high school she joined a fashion school before proceeding to Strathmore University.
However, the birth of TOMOLLO was, in many ways, a product of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic
It was during that time that Christine met her current business partner, Tom Byrne.
The two individuals from contrasting backgrounds collaborated and discovered a shared passion for uniqueness and elegance.
The melding of their past experiences and inspirations marked the beginning of a successful partnership dedicated to creative innovation.
“We both have the hunger to be unique, yet classy and elegant. COVID gave birth to healthy fireworks. We are both inspired by Impressionism, Cubism and the natural world,” she said.
The brand’s lineup of products includes a diverse range of products.
They include safari dresses, reversible bomber jackets, crochet dresses, denim safari bags, denim dresses, summer shorts, men´s summer shirts, jumpsuits, and men’s office classic shirts.
With an eye on the future, TOMOLLO is gearing up to introduce new items like shirt dresses, palazzo pants, bomber jackets, and hooded dresses, aiming to blend elegance with comfort seamlessly.
According to Christine, money was a concern when starting out. They started out by dipping into their meager savings.
They used the profits to reinvest into the business, purchasing better machines and printing their own fabrics.
Christine had run another brand before, so it was easy for her to adapt to a new one. However, with new values and a different vision direction, their budget almost doubled.
To keep abreast with the fashion design industry, she follows various accounts of renowned designers, the likes of Mara Hoffman, Silvia Tcherassi, Stella McCartney, among others.
Best business advice
According to Christine, TOMOLLO´s best business advice came from their partners from the IMD Business School teams in Switzerland, led by Lizbeth Bakker of entrepreneurs Hub Kenya.
The advice was for them to swear by the 4 Ps of marketing—Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.
“Offering what is not offered anywhere else has created repeat clients and with good customer service, their loyalty increased and at the same time they have knowingly or unknowingly acted as our latent brand ambassadors or marketers.
We have learned to be consistent and kept learning, especially using technology as our best friend in production and marketing,” said Christine.
TOMOLLO’s proudest moments include the monumental decision to print their own fabrics, a move that elevated their uniqueness and set them apart.
Dressing former Irish Ambassador Mrs. Fionnuala Quinn and having two teams from the IMD Business School work with them has also been exhilarating.
Looking ahead, TOMOLLO envisions a legacy that transcends boundaries, races, and accepted norms, leaving an indelible mark on the fashion industry.
“We want our clients to remember us for our timeless pieces that were not the norm for sustainable fashion pieces of their boringness but eccentric and elegant, quintessential and contemporary.
That we didn’t change people but their perspiration and purpose for a better environment by embracing sustainable practices.
Last but not least, that we uplifted our employees to have sustainable lifestyles and created a brand that will inspire and influence generations to or to be used as sketch boards for many,” said Christine.