Our interview with Modafirma - a well known fashion and lifestyle shopping platform:
Modafirma (Fashion & Lifestyle) sat down for an interview with Jimmy Scott, co-founder of Koy Clothing, an independent and sustainable fashion brand that combines classic British style with unique/authentic African fabrics. In this interview we discussed the inspiration behind the brand and how Koy is actively helping the Kenyan communities around them.
Jimmy Scott and Janet, one of the Maasai Mamas who beads belts for Koy Clothing.
To start, could you introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Jimmy and I co-founded KOY Clothing with my brother Alastair back in late 2016. We were born and raised in Africa and spent most of our upbringing between Kenya and the UK. This gave us a very unique opportunity to combine two completely different worlds through fashion and support the continent we grew up in and love so much in the process.
What inspired you to start Koy Clothing?
I always wanted to start a business and due to my unique upbringing in Africa, I saw an opportunity to use African fabrics that surrounded me growing up in combination with classic European fabrics and designs to produce a product that would appeal to the high-end western market.
Africa has so much to offer, from its stunning scenery to its magical wildlife and its unique and interesting cultures, Africa is just full of inspiration! However, while many choose to give back to it, there are some who choose to exploit it. It is our promise to value the inspiration that this stunning continent has given us. We do this by giving 5% of all sales (At least 50% of profits) to projects within Kenyan communities, helping the people, the place, and the wildlife.
Your website states that you donate over 50% of your profits back to Kenyan communities, how has Koy impacted these local communities?
As a new start-up business, it takes several years to make profit, but this did not stop us from supporting projects from the very get-go of the business, as we have donated 5% of sales irrespective of whether we make profit or not! We have supported 3 projects so far over the past 4 years.
Project 1 – Sports Development
We are proud to support the East Africa Character Development Trust for our ‘Luo’ Collection fund. They are an incredible charity that are transforming the lives of young Kenyan children in deprived areas of Kenya through Sport (Mainly Cricket), teaching them important life skills that will ultimately drive them towards a better life after school. Our initial contribution has supported over 80 children through this programme for a full year, and this is just the beginning. It’s an honour to be a part of such an amazing cause!
Here is a video of our visit to this project in Kenya.
See video for more info
Project 2 – Wildlife Conservation
We believe that in order to help the wildlife, you must invest in the people. In January 2020 we visited our ‘Mara’ project, which supports conservation in Kenya through 5% of all our ‘Mara’ collection sales (At least 50% of profits), helping the coexistence of the people and the wildlife in Kenya.
Investing in People – (KOY Clothing’s Mara Project)
See video for more info
Project 3 – Arts & Culture
We had an inspiring day with this wise man and artist – ‘Elkana Ongesa’. We have handed over a confirmation letter of our funding towards ‘Elkana’s’ museum and his mission of preserving the beautiful heritage of the ‘Gusii’ tribe – ‘Kisii Soapstone Carving’. Some of our inspirations come from a variety of special tribal traditions. In this case, we would like to share with you the inspiration behind our ‘Gusii’ (Pink) collection. Soapstone carving has been an old tradition in Kisii. Soapstone has a stunning natural pink colour shade, hence the pink colour of our ‘Gusii’ collection. Elkana Ongesa was brought up in a family of soapstone carvers and the art has been in his family for generations. This funding will help Elkana train young Gusii people in the art of Soapstone carving, so they can go on to sell their own carvings in the future, which will in turn preserve this special cultural heritage. This project will also help to improve Elkana’s museum, bring more tourism to the Kisii County, and eventually help build Elkana his dream museum!
KOY – Supporting Kenyan Art & Culture
See video for more info
What does sustainability mean to you and how has this guided your brand vision?
Sustainability is the future… It is a team effort for everyone and every business to invest in to sustainably help the planet, it’s environment and the people and animals living in it.
What do you think separates Koy Clothing from other clothing brands?
Our unique detailing that has a true and meaningful story behind it, with our commitment to value the inspiration we get from Africa by giving over 50% of profits to sustainable charity projects within African communities.
Do you have any long-term goals or visions for Koy?
YES!! We want to show the world the beauty of Africa through luxury fashion! This is only just the beginning and the inspiration Africa provides is limitless. We haven’t even scratched the surface…
What advice can you give to our readers who want to start to shop more responsibly or build a more ethical wardrobe?
Not to consume unnecessarily – and when we do consume, to practice buying good. Don’t just look at the price tag, look at what goes into making the clothes you buy and what happens after you buy them? Ask yourself, ‘By buying this product, who am I helping and what am I supporting?