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INTERVIEW: I Don’t Mix Business with Bodily Pleasures-Fashion Designer Abryanz

Born on November 1st 1990 in Masindi district in a family of two, Brian Ahumuza better known as Abryanz is one of the most popular fashion entrepreneurs in the country.

Dressed in a white T-shirt and black skinny trousers, I found him attending to one of the clients at his Garden City store before walking to me.

“Sorry I have been busy but you can sit down as I get done,” he told me.

He later rushed to me with a welcoming smile before finally settling down for the interview.

Abraynz attended Asaba Primary School, Bugema Adventists Secondary School and Lake Side College Luzira.

He later joined Kyambogo University for bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Social Administration.

Unlike most kids, Abryanz grew up surrounded by fashion as he helped his mother in her clothes store before her death in 1998.

“I was later taken up by my auntie who also sold clothes. They always told me that I made more profit when I worked because I was good with clients,” he says with a smile.

Abryanz says smartness is key
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He was later sent to live with his father who was then married to another woman and claims he shaped him to become the man he is today.

“My aunties told me that if I wanted to prosper in another woman’s house, I had to work hard. I used to wake up early clean up and eventually I won her love, my step mother considered me most,” he added.

Abryanz met with ChimpLyf’s Shamim Kawalha at his store at Garden City and talked at length about his life, career and future plans.

Below are the excerpts.

Having graduated in social works, do you have plans of putting your degree to use?

Yes, of course. I do practice social works; I still do charity work although I don’t document it. I mentor designers, fashion entrepreneurs, because it always takes me back to the person I am. I have however taken long without doing charity because I am a little busy. I see so many celebrities doing charity when they have something big coming up like a concert which I think isn’t the right way. One should help not to be helped back.

Abryanz in ripped denim shorts

When did you venture into fashion?

It was in 2010, but when I was in vacation I got a job as a cleaner at Twed Towers in Huawei. On arriving for my first interview I was smartly dressed that even my boss thought I wouldn’t manage. I however started working and on a daily basis I made it a point that I looked smart which pulled by workmates in bigger offices to ask where I get my clothes from. I was later tasked to get some for them; I had my vendors in Owino who entrusted me with their clothes on which I got profits. On a good day my profits were more than my salary.

There came a time when people returned clothes that didn’t fit them. I had a bunch of them and had nowhere to put them, that’s when I said I thought of starting a boutique where I could keep these clothes. I rented a small space where my cousin worked during his vacation.

As time went by I got promoted, the more money I got, the more I stocked my boutique.

Are you saying you got the capital for this (pointing at his current shop) from cleaning?

No! I was even promoted to a receptionist and later joined university. I got another job elsewhere which paid better. I channeled all my money to my business. I knew what I wanted and I made sure I invest every small penny. And it’s now eight years by all means it had to become big.

So why did you specialize in only men’s clothes?

At that point there were no fashions stores for men, people thought men can’t be fashionable and I wanted to change that perception. All fashion designers were women and I was the only man who wanted to change the game.

How has it been working amongst women?
I have always wanted to win and I am glad I am the top man among many women. I have been recognized with some of the greatest female fashion icons in the country and to me that was winning, women have been supportive to me.

Eight years down the road, what’s your biggest achievement so far?

The awards are my biggest achievement. People call me and thank me for being part of the Abryanz Style and Fashion Awards (ASFAs). There are testimonies, and there are emotions, excitement attached to them.

I have also gotten awards like Buzz Teenz Awards, Young Achievers Award, which I think makes me happy because as a person I wanted to do great things before making 30years. I remember when I featured on CNN; it felt really nice because not only did my friends call me but people across the globe watched my story. It was a success.

Oh did I tell you that I employ over ten people at just 27 years, I have people that that smile because of me. People who depend on me so I always fight to keep this business running so that we all get to keep our jobs.

Abryanz with ChimpLyf writer Shamim Kawalha after the interview

What inspired you to start these awards?

The first edition was called Men Fashion Explosion Awards and they only targeted men in fashion. It was endorsed by both men and women although women came in more. I later realized I needed something for both men and women. I was struggling for men to be recognized fashion wise.

I changed the name to Abryanz Style and Fashion Awards and life has never been the same.

What is the criterion for choosing winners in the ASFAs?

We don’t take any bribes from the participants reason we don’t disclose the judges’ names unless one is not satisfied with the results. Ugandans don’t like reading but we normally send the rules to the participants on how everything will be; like 30% of the votes will be from the audience and 70% from the judges.

Competitions will always be unfair as long as one person wins. We can’t make everyone happy by making them all winners that’s why my friends like Sheila Gashumba have never won any award at ASFAs. I don’t attach feelings; when we are judging, we don’t sideline anybody.

As a young man, you have had women crushing on you. How do you handle such?

I am a young and handsome man I must admit that I wouldn’t blame any woman for falling for me. I get many but we normally talk it out amicably without anyone getting hurt. For those who stay as friends we go out have some food and party. I don’t mix my work with pleasures of the body.

By turning down these advances does it mean you have someone special somewhere?

I would like to keep this to myself but when the right time comes the world will know about her. They will know the woman I will marry.

Paint for us a picture of your family in future.

I see myself, a wife and one son. I wouldn’t blame God for giving me a girl but I would prefer a boy. I love boys so much and I would like to raise one of own.

Do you think you would ever be tempted to cheat on your wife?

Then why will I have married her? I think she would be the best out of the many so having her home will bring me joy and happiness; what else will I be looking for? Men who cheat have other excuses. I wouldn’t want to cheat on my woman at any point despite being human.

Abryanz posing in one of his outfits

Who are your favourite Ugandan musicians?

As a kid, I loved Bebe Cool, Chameleone, Juliana, and Iryn Namubiru. Their music kept me moving and to date Iryn and Juliana are the best female musicians to me.

But there are these new ones that I love like Bennie Gunter, Fik Fameica and Gravity Omutujju not only because of their music but also their fashion sense wows me.

Any words for the fans out there?

For those who support me I am grateful; and for the clients who still give me their money may God reward you. For those who think I am not where I am supposed to be, please wake up, dress up and work for it for I have done the same and I am living under my hard work.

 

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