I have decided to start a new segment called ‘Badass Women Doing Great Things!’ Personally I love to listen to other people’s stories because I learn a lot from their people’s experiences! To start this new segment, I’m featuring someone who I look up to! Her work has been featured in Parallel Magazine and has been shared all over the internet! My guest for today is Claude Kameni, a badass chick who is the founder of the kickass clothing label laviebyck! Her designs just exude excellence! I fell in love with African prints even more after I saw her designs!
1. Tell us why you started Laviebyck…. how did it come about?
My mother says that since I was small, I was always drawing designs! When I finally got the opportunity to learn how to sew I took it and it felt like a natural thing for me to start laviebyck!
The name Lavieby Ck comes from the French word lavie which means life and CK are my initials therefore the name means life by Claude Kameni.
2. How old were you when you first started sewing? At what point did you decide to start sewing clothes for other people?
I started sewing in my senior year of high school around 18 years old. I took one fashion class in high school and I was the only serious person in my class. Everyone else hated the class and didn’t pay much attention to it, so the teacher paid a lot of attention to me and helped as much as possible!
At 19, my aunt bought me a little cute sewing machine and all I did was sew! I started getting some clients but I wasn’t charging too much because I was still learning, but people still came and bought!
At 20, I finally bought my own sewing machine with the money from the things I sewed for people. Social media started popping and I was getting more clients.
At 21- I had my first fashion show at my the launch party for my laviebyck collection and website. I started getting contacted by different events who paid me to showcase my clothes.
3. What is your most proudest moment for Laviebyck?
I have so many, it’s so hard to choose from but I can give you my top 3 moments!
1) When I bought my first sewing machine using profit from laviebyck. That felt good! I stopped working my part time job and fully focused on laviebyck.
2) My first fashion show at 21! That was just amazing!
3)Creating my first wedding dress which hasn’t been released yet but will be in due time! (Fam… I got a sneak peak of it and let me tell you… It is GORGEOUS! )
4. Where do you get inspiration for your designs from? Who do you look up to?
I have always wanted to own a business because my father who is late now was a great businessman.
My designs are visions that come in my head. I dream about fashion and then write down all my ideas in my vision book.
5. How did you manage to fund everything when you were starting off; from your business to the fashion show?
When I started, I had a job which funded everything from my fabrics and anything else that I needed. I had to quit it at 20 years old because it was all too much! I've been working for myself ever since.
Before I didn't pay my manager; she was just mentoring me, but now that I'm making money, she gets 10% of whatever I make. With my first fashion show, I didn't have to pay for too much. The photographer: @pkdesignphotos who was my mentor made it all happen through his connections. From the catering to the decorations, everything was covered, all I had to pay for was the venue.
6. How did you find your mentors, and how would you advise someone else to find theirs?
The most important thing is to know your crowd! Know who you’re talking to! Don’t just talk to anyone! The thing about me is I talk to people who are going to make me better. Talk to people that are going to bring you up there. Choose your friends wisely. Talk to people that have goals and ambitions.
7. Have you lost any friends since you started your business?
I now only have 2 friends, everyone else is my entourage. People that never spoke to me before now claim to be my friends. But I stand my ground, whether you’re my friend or not, you pay me for my services; no special treatment!
8. I understand you’re studying as well as this? How do you juggle your social life + business+ studies at university?
It's pretty easy... basically, you go to school, do everything at school then come back home and sew. (giggles).
I also now have a manager who takes care of a lot of the administration so that I can concentrate on sewing! That makes it much easier for me!
9. Do you ever worry about competition
10. How do you stay motivated to keep going?
People around me that are doing stuff motivate me to keep going.
They are not giving up and are still going so why should I?
That motivates me to continue going.
My dad passed away and my mum is a single mum with 7 kids so it motivates me to keep going!
11. What would you say to the younger Claude when she was just starting?
“Girl keep pushing!” You don’t know how many times I wanted to quit… I’m so glad I motivated myself to keep going!
12. What are some of the challenges you face as a young person with your own business?
Crazy customers that don't want to pay!
People think I’m rich, they don’t understand that there are a lot of costs involved and think I’m bawling. There is so much to pay for before one can enjoy profits in a small business.
13. Any advice for those that want to start their own businesses or become designers such as yourself?
"Guys just keep going! Don’t let nobody tell you, you can’t do nothing period. You have no idea how many people said my work is mediocre, it’s not all that. At the end of the day, I’m just gonna keep going period; say whatever you want!"-Claude Kameni 2017
I have been watch Claude’s journey for a while and I’m so excited to continue to see what is in store! Even though she is a busy woman, she managed to find time to speak to little ol me and that in itself speaks a million words! Thank you Claude for sharing your story!
Until next time: Be Bold, Be Unique, Be Confident