You often hear people say “tell your story” or “share your truth” but, it’s not everyday that you have the platform to do so. Some stories are left untold or unheard because there just wasn’t the space and opportunity to share. This is one of the reasons that led me to start the Extraordinaire Woman series because I personally was always surrounded by awesome women doing great things and winning at life. However for one reason or another, I felt like their journeys weren’t being shared enough. But even beyond just offering an avenue for sharing, I wanted to remind each woman that I’m able to chat with, that’s she’s doing incredible, she’s seen and she’s celebrated.
I greatly believe that women need to be celebrated a little louder everyday because they choose to wake up daily, pursue their dreams and continue to defy the stereotypes out there about what a woman can or can’t do. My deepest desire is to see more women taking up space in whatever field and sphere of life they choose and for more of those stories to be told. I think that this will not only inspire that next generation of women but it will definitely create an unstoppable movement of women just thriving and leaving their mark wherever they set foot. Leaving behind that legacy that truly shows, I was here, I lived to the fullest, I shined bright and my flame lit another candle. I went through it all and conquered.
That being said, I’m extremely excited to share with you the story behind Bisa Styles. A brand that was started by an amazing woman who I had the privilege of chatting with and our conversation really left me inspired. Listening to her journey was a great reminder for me that you can achieve absolutely anything as long as you put your mind to it and choose to live beyond the barriers. Anyways, let me stop myself from sharing spoiler alerts even before we get in to the gist of her story. In the meantime, grab a cup of tea if you like or a drink you want to sip on and let’s dive right in.
1. Briefly tell us about yourself.
My name is Esther Bisamunyu, 25 years old and the last born of three children. I have a big brother and sister. I’m a christian and God has blessed me to have both my parents alive, in love and growing old together. I pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and it’s amazing how my path took a different turn. But for me, it was no surprise at all because my passion had always been elsewhere.
2. How was Bisa Styles birthed and what exactly is it about?
Bisa Styles was birthed during the COVID-19 lockdown period. Prior to starting it, I had a 9-6 corporate job that I didn’t really like. The benefits were good and having a salary was comfortable but, I felt like something was missing. The lockdown working-from-home nature gave me the gift of time. I had a chance to reflect and ponder on what my passions were, tap in to skills I could use to create something more long lasting and secure for myself. I wanted to create my own company where I’d be able to enjoy what I was doing without having to dread going to work. I felt like the corporate setting of being answerable to someone else or working for them wasn’t satisfactory enough. I just wanted to follow a path that I was deeply passionate about.
That quite time of reflection allowed me think deeply and gave me the chance to read so many books because I needed to have knowledge on how best to navigate my next steps. This also helped me connect the information I gathered to some of the God given gifts I have and see how those could be implemented in to building my dream.
Bisa Styles is a registered styling services company. We work directly with different individuals on a personal, commercial and corporate basis. We provide styling services to different brands and agencies. For example companies doing TV commercials and need a stylist on board, we are able to work with them to bring out their brand identity through styling the commercial models in a way that best represents the company.
We are able to bring different clothing pieces for the models shooting that can give them a unique style and still suitably represent the brand for which they are advertising for. We ensure that they perfectly look the part they are shooting for. We also do corporate styling for those mainly in Kampala ranging from the bankers, lawyers and generally anyone in the corporate setting. We help them understand how best they can represent themselves in their field, how they should dress and what style they can incorporate in to their wardrobe that makes them stand out.
We also do corporate setting workshops for employers who need a stylist to train their employees on image building and representation. We can offer that service under our image consultancy package. We also do personal styling for interested individuals and we can help you cleanse your wardrobe, throw out what doesn’t suit you and curate a style that best represents who you are. There’s a range of other services we offer that you can find here.
3. What inspired you to start?
I needed a certain level of independence which I felt like I didn’t have in the corporate setting especially at my previous workplace. I felt like I needed to have control of my life, future, destiny, goals and dreams. I had to so many things I wanted to achieve but was held back by the environment I was working in at the time and that pushed me even more to just start Bisa styles. I absolutely couldn’t picture myself continuing in the life of sitting behind a desk from 8:00am-6:00pm working in a field I wasn’t necessarily passionate about. It was just unsustainable for me.
Truthfully, I needed to get a sense of freedom and taking that stand was not easy at all. Especially during a season of Covid lockdown where some businesses were closing and others at the verge. In an interesting way, this somehow motivated me to still pursue my dream. I knew that God had taken care of me and His provision was a sign for me to trust Him. So I took the risk and just started. In summary, I can say Faith is what greatly inspired me and the fact that I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do. I went in a bit nervous but I knew that I had nothing to lose and that I couldn’t stay in my shell for too long. You know, your dream should be able to scare you in a way that drives you toward it and not away and that’s exactly what mine did.
4. What achievements have come out of this journey so far?
One of my biggest ones has been exposure especially out of my comfort zone. You know when you have a 9-5 job, everyday can feel the same because of routine. Starting Bisa Styles and actually putting in the work has truly grown my confidence too. When you are not doing something that pushes you out of your box, it always feels like there’s something missing. I’ve also been able to explore my creative side so much more in terms of content creation for my YouTube channel, blogging on my website and digital marketing for my brand in general. I didn’t know that I had all this in me so, it’s beautiful to watch it unfold. Starting this journey was like taking a chance on myself and I’m so glad I did. I have absolutely no regrets about it. Lastly, it’s given me a sense of belonging in the fashion and style space because I can see where I’m going. It’s been amazing so far to watch my vision come to life bit by bit. I’m ecstatic to see how far it will go.
5. What challenges have you faced so far?
It’s been tricky trying to find genuine suppliers because the vision I have for my brand is to ensure that I supply only and only the very best. Last year when I’d just started out, I had a very rough time with a particular supplier that I ordered from and she tried to play me here and there. I had a bit of a rough start with that and it slowed down some of my projects and plans. This person just wasn’t delivering even after we’d had an agreement and payment had been made. But I guess it’s part of the journey, you live and you learn. The other challenge has been finding the right business relationships or networks. For some reason certain people don’t mean business and it’s as if they think you are just joking around and that lack of genuineness can be frustrating. I like to work with people who take what we are doing seriously, put in the work and deliver on time as promised. But that isn’t always the case which is absurd. In the creative space, I’ve noticed that it’s not easy for you to be embraced and it can be hard to penetrate in to the market you are trying to get in to. As a stylist, this has been challenging because it takes time to win someone’s trust in terms of them letting you dress them or enhance their fashion style. I also feel like it’s hard especially for young people to permeate in to the profitable deals or contracts and the already existing markets. It takes time for someone to take a chance on you but that has in some way taught me to be persistent.
6. Had you always been passionate about this?
It’s a definite YES! Interestingly, back in the day during school, I loved shopping so much and most of my pocket money went in to buying clothes during the holidays. My friends would always call me to take them shopping as well because they felt like I knew all the shops to get those cute and stylish outfits. So personal shopping is something I’ve always had in me and wanted to do. For the longest time, I wanted to own a style store/ studio. It’s funny that I did B.A.Economics on campus [bursts in to laughter]. I honestly feel like I did it just to fulfil the norm of going through school till you are able to graduate as it’s something we have been subjected to especially with our education system. But for me, fashion had always been on the inside.
After school, my parents sat me down and asked what I wanted to do. The first thing I asked them for was an investment to start my fashion boutique but of course, that kind of money was not available then. So I had to get in to the market place, work for a bit, starting saving and planning on how best to invest. But yeah, I truly love fashion, dressing up, shopping , style and content creation. So I feel like Bisa Styles is so me. It’s a perfect depiction of who I am and I’m so fulfilled to be on this journey.
7. Kindly share your experience working with people of different personalities and fashion style. How do you usually navigate this to meet their needs?
Individuals are definitely different with a unique sense of style and personality. Everyone has their own way in which they express themselves through style but it has been and still is, a learning experience. Truth be told, as a stylist I deal with people of all calibers with some being afraid to wear certain things because of how society might perceive it. Others are picky and afraid to freely explore other options that can still suit their personality. But yeah, it’s been a great learning experience which has helped me appreciate the difference we each have and see it as one’s uniqueness and individuality. This is a good thing as it gives me a chance to daily challenge myself to grow as I style different people whilst accommodating their needs. However also as an image consultant, I try to advise my clients based on what best fits their body type and is still able to have them looking stylish. I always encourage people I work with to dare to be confident and not stay so conformed to societal norms because people will always have an opinion about how you look. But as long as you embrace it in a way that makes you comfortable, then I don’t see why you shouldn’t go for it. If we are to go by all the rules and regulations, we will never be able to truly be ourselves and embrace our personalities as well as personal style. It’s okay to try something new and different but also remain true to yourself. I ensure that I listen intently and understand everyone’s needs in line with who they are, their fears, likes, insecurities and everything they share. I work around this to ensure that I bring out the best in you and reveal the most beautiful parts of who you are through style.
8. How do you usually get clients?
My very first clients have been from family, friends and people in my circles. The low hanging fruit is you get to tell people about what you do and the services you offer from which I’ve been able to get referrals. But the biggest source of my clients has been through Instagram and my website where I advertise mostly. My digital marketing has helped me a lot as well especially as a newbie in the industry. Another thing I’ve been doing, is email marketing where I send emails to brands, agencies and companies I’d like to collaborate with. And amazingly, some of them have actually responded and reached out to work with me.
9. What lessons have you learnt on this journey?
Number one, be patient with yourself and also with your brand. I had a hard time with that in the beginning because I believed in my dream so much and even those I shared it with embraced it as a brilliant idea. But when I reached the market, I didn’t understand why I wasn’t receiving as much acceptance as I expected. I’m learning that it takes time and that’s okay. You just have to keep working with more zeal everyday and put yourself out there as much as you can. The other lesson has been the constant reminder that I have nothing to lose and this has pushed me to shoot my shots, pitch, talk to people and sell myself at every opportunity I get.
10. Where do you see Bisa Styles in the future?
My dream for Bisa Styles is to be able to work with the top most brands on so many big projects. Companies like MTN, Multichoice, Airtel and all the big agencies in Kampala. I also plan on creating educative information for stylists and people that would want to start this as a career. I’ll be curating course material and digital content that will be available to those that need to access it or on sale for individuals that want to make a successful career out of styling. But this is in the long term vision for my brand. I definitely see Bisa Styles growing globally [watch the space].
11. What is your message to a woman out there?
Don’t be hard on yourself and be confident no matter what. Listen to your gut and do things that you are passionate about. Don’t just run with the flow but embrace who you are. How ever weird you think your idea is, trust me there’s a market for it and an audience waiting for what you have to offer. Don’t sit on your dreams, goals or ideas and instead, put yourself out there. Lastly, just start! You can’t always wait for the circumstances to be perfect because they just might never be.
12. How can someone get in touch with you?
Through my social media platforms under the name Bisa Styles on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. And also my website.
Special vote of thanks to this extraordinaire woman for the amazing things she’s been up to and for taking the time to share her journey with us. To you my lovely reader, thank you for taking the time to journey with us and read thus far. You are appreciated for keeping this platform going as well as growing. My hope is that Esther’s story will inspire, motivate and teach someone out there. Also, don’t forget to follow her pages. Feel free to reach out and support her hustle. After all, that’s what we are here for. To empower each other and shine together. Happy women’s month [happy dance]