Kunjina Tesfaye was fortunate enough to discover her passion at a young age. She and her sister would entertain the family with fashion shows on weekends often wearing her mother’s oversized clothes but styling them so they would fit. She started sketching female figures at the age of 14 and designing clothes on them that looked like wearable art pieces.
Kunjina is a fashion designer based in Addis Ababa Ethiopia and owns her fashion brand KUNJINA that she founded in 2017 located in Bole. She makes unisex and women’s ready to wear garments with a global appeal. She has uniquely crafted details on her garment such as fabric manipulations, embroidery, and painting. With a background in engineering having studied construction technology and management her clothes have a very structured element to them that help with her unique brand identity. She mostly uses locally available fabrics and occasionally imports some to give her pieces a unique look.
After finishing high school she saw that she still nurtured her desire for fashion and even got a sewing machine from her aunt. She immediately joined Wossi International Fashion Institute after her engineering degree, taking a short fashion course. She went on to participate and win fashion competitions as well as get into fashion incubator programs. She continues to draw inspirations from both worlds of fashion and engineering for her pieces and has managed to get wide media coverage both locally and internationally.
What drives her to keep going?
Kunjina believes what she presents to the world regarding her art should always upgrade and be a better version of what she has done before. She is always on a continuous journey to improve on what she does and believes every project should always top the last one. She wants her work to inspire and impact people’s lives and that just pushes her to keep going and never stops.
As an advocate for art, she aspires to be an inspiration to future generations of African to follow their callings and do what they’re passionate about and to prove to them that it is possible to follow one’s dream, pave their way and become successful.
What legacy /mark does she want her work to leave?
Kunjina believes freedom is a key ingredient that allows people to live fully. It is important to her that her work inspires people to have the freedom to do whatever their heart desires and to show that with hard work and dedication, it is achievable. Beyond fashion, she wants to leave a legacy to inspire Ethiopian and women in other African countries to look within themselves and acknowledge their strength and capability.
She is also passionate about job creation through doing what you love and this is seen in how she runs her fashion brand in creating opportunities for locals and giving back to the community.
She is the Project manager at Dress Up Kenya. RAFDA 2008 Finalist & FA254 Finalist 2014.
Lorna is a 2016 YALI Mandela Washington Fellow.