Vivian Taabu Okumu aka Swiry Nyar Kano, is a lady who wears many hats, she describes herself as an African history and spirituality content creator, a mental health advocate, a Microbiology and Biotechnology Graduate as well as an African fashion designer.
We sat down with her as part of the Guinness Black Shines Bright series stories, and this is what she had to say.
Tell us about yourself?
I am a River-Lake Nilote, fashion designer that grew up in Kano and is out to experience life, expand, explore and share my own art, lessons, and philosophies with those around me.
When did you start your journey in fashion?
I was born of a mother who was a tailor, so, Fashion has somehow always been a part of my journey, perfectly intertwined in its own timeline in my life.
What inspired you to start?
My desire to express my identity. My desire to remember what my ancestral fashion would have morphed into if there was no colonial interference.
How is your creative process?
I seek my inspiration from nature, weather, storytelling, folktales… Fashion to me is an expression of not just identity, but emotions.
What challenges have you faced in your journey?
I wouldn’t call them “challenges” but rather “lessons”… I have learned that the system is set up in a way that requires a lot of strategies to maneuver…but still, with the correct mindset and drive, I have also witnessed that the system is penetrative.
When did you get your big break?
When I was featured in the Guinness Black Shines Brightest Stories. That was the experience that gave my career a complete U-turn…
Tell us about the Guinness Black Shines Brightest stories
Guinness Black Shines Brightest Stories Showed up in my life at a time when my Fashion Career was at its “Rawest Form”, I was even shocked to be part of it. To me, it was a boost of my confidence and helped me see that I am capable of Shining even brighter after interacting with other African Stars.
What made you want to be part of the show and how was the experience?
The Name itself “Black Shines Brightest” sounded true to my Soul and resonated deeply with me at a personal level.
The experience has been very elevating. I am grateful to Guinness for the opportunity they have given me with the masterclasses that I teach at the Guinness events .They really give me a great moment to introduce my Kenyan brothers and Sisters to their ancient Fashion history and the identity behind them.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Expect the “Unexpected”
What can you tell young people who would like to become fashion designers?
Be ready to be a full-time “midwife”, ready to watch all the nasty stages that come with bringing a “baby” into this world, because in Fashion, “every creation is a newborn”