By Prudence Minayo
The name Valentine Nekesa may not be as big as her father, the fiery trade unionist Francis Atwoli, but that has not stopped her from blossoming in the world of business. Valentine is COTU secretary general and his estranged wife Rosalind Simuyu’s adopted daughter. The two, who are her uncle and aunt, adopted her after the demise of her biological mother. She is a trend setter when it comes to fashion. With such phenomenal success, it is no surprise that in 2017, she was ranked 14th in Kenya’s Top 40 Under 40 Women.
Here is her story as told by WoK.
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The young fashionista is the founder of V-Design, also called Nekesa Queens Ltd. Her love for fashion was birthed at a tender age. She would draw designs from her mind in a sketchbook.
In 2014, she sat for her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) Exams. Thereafter, she decided to venture into the world of fashion by establishing her company, V-Design.
It began when a friend requested for an outfit soon after she completed KCSE. Armed with Sh1000, she bought fabric worth Sh450 and paid a tailor Sh500 for the design. This was the beginning of her fashion house.
Friends and family showed her great support as they would approach her for designs or in other instances refer people to her.
Since her foray into fashion, she has managed to create a reputable brand while also focusing on the plus sized women.
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“V-Designs is a fashion house for plus size women whom we usually refer to as ‘triple C’ (curvy, confident, chic). We sell a feeling and confidence. That’s what differentiates us from our competitors,” she said in a previous interview.
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In 2017, she took part in the Blaze be Your Own Boss Competitions. The 8-week intense competition between 12 contestants came to a grand finale with three contestants battling it out for the Sh5 million prize. Nekesa trounced Safe Joe and David Kimani to clinch first position. She won Sh3 million in capital investment and a further Sh2 million in mentorship, business support and financial advice.
The then 19-year-old was happy about the win and said she would invest the money into her business. Buying sewing machines, renting a shop, buying quality fabrics and hiring employees were some of the things she vowed to do for her business.
Her mother Rosalind Simuyu said she knew Valentine had it in her to win. She also commented on the fact that she kept Atwoli’s name out of the whole competition as she did not want people to discredit her.
The talented designer went to Kakamega Primary School where she excelled and joined Moi Girls High School in Eldoret. In 2015, Valentine Nekesa enrolled for a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology at Mount Kenya University.
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