January 16 2017
The Professional: Betu Tshiongo Wiederkehr
Name: Tshiongo Wiederkehr, Bampangila Betu Kumesu
Job-title: Creative director of Kumesu
Hometown: Kinshasa, Geneva
Current Residence: Lagos, Nigeria
Day to Day uniform: jeans, t-shirt, high heels, tote bag
1) Tell us about your professional background (studies, jobs…) and current occupation
I have started my studies in Kinshasa (DRC) then moved to Switzerland where I have attended secondary school, University and Masters in Business Administration. As a fresh graduate, I joined the global Financial Consultancy firm Deloitte in Geneva where I worked for ten years as Analyst.
I moved from being a Deloitte Analyst to being a Creative director behind the Handcrafted Luxury brand Kumesu. I’ve started my handbags accessories line in Lagos (Nigeria) in November 2014.
2) How did you came up with the idea of creating your own accessories line?
I initially started the label when I discovered the leather industry in Nigeria but also because of my love for handbags. I have always loved how the right handbag can change your outfit – you can throw on jeans and t-shirt, but if you leave the house with a clutch bag, you look dressed up. I fell in love with leather, the smell, the touch, the flexibility, and the many possibilities of leather.
I was also searching for something unique, colorful but still classic, high quality and affordable. Some bags in the market were either available only on seasons basis, fast-fashion, throw-away items or too kitschy and extremely expensive – I felt there was a need for something in between for the African Market.
Behind Kumesu, there is a wish to have mainly Africans and the rest of the world believe that we Africans are able to come up with high end products. At Kumesu, we apply meticulous skills and craftsmanship into the design and quality of all the products. The handbags are handcrafted from top class materials by a team of local artisans with a remarkable manual ability and a deep desire to achieve the highest quality.
3) What’s your creative process?
The process of creating a Kumesu handbag is well thought-out and flawlessly executed. All Kumesu handbags address the following:
Client usability and functionality
Creative design, unique piece
At Kumesu, we are vigilant when choosing the highest quality leather to ensure ultimate exterior durability for our clients before turning our attention to the interior and our signature suede lining. From the logo made in Neuchâtel (Switzerland) to the chains made in Italy, we pick the materials that will determine the reputation of the handbag and how long it will last.
All handbags are also named either in Swahili (in honor to my mum) or after my sisters that have also inspired me and encourage me in this beautiful journey. We want our clients to carry a unique piece that not only has a name but also a story that they can relate to.
612 (my anniversary, December 6), Kito (jewelry box), Safari (travel), Angel City tote, Julia…
4) Who is the Kumesu woman?
The Kumesu woman is elegant and has a sense of humor; she also uses colors to mirror her mood. She is inspired by cultural experiences and can interpret a trend in a way that stays true to her personal style. She makes a statement with her outfit by carrying her most loyal friend (her handbag) but doesn’t want to be screaming “look at my bag”!
5) How or where do you find the inspiration?
I have lived in four countries and travelled in different cities. My handbags are inspired by the different places and mostly African cultures I have had the opportunity to experience. For instance, the sunsets on Banana Island in Lagos are reflected in the pastels of the handbags while the colors of the Congolese women attires (libaya) are always present.
6) Kumesu is proudly African, how do you manage to establish your brand in a rather green yet competitive African luxury market?
There is a growing consumer appetite for luxury goods in the African market and I believe that all brands can find their ways into this market. It all depends on the marketing strategy behind the brand.
Kumesu is on a niche market and our target is HENRY: “High Earners Not Rich Yet” consumers. This segment is becoming steadily in Africa and is important part of the consumer market too. Kumesu is an African affordable Luxury brand and the “HENRY” will still flaunt a luxury piece without putting too much burden on the pocket.
On top of it, all handbags production does not lie on seasons and we produce only one-off unique piece. Not only each person is unique but remember the Kumesu woman uses colors to mirror her moods. You will never come across a person who carries the same bag as you.
7) What’s the mid to long term vision for Kumesu?
Become the leading African Handbag Luxury brand…
8) Anything exciting coming up for the brand?
K by K, the small leather goods line: necklace, wallets, key and car holders in early 2017.
Kumesu is also on Facebook
Please visit Kumesu website
Where to find Kumesu:
16 Karimu Kotun Victoria Island
5, Avenue Kasongo
Commune de la Gombe
Kinshasa, Quartier Socimat
3, Passage Linthout
+322 735 10 16