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Covid-19 Social Distancing Impact Stories by Lorna Abwonji – Part 1

As you may know from previous articles on this website, my name is Lorna Abwonji, a fashion designer based in Nairobi, Kenya. 

During this Covid-19 crisis my work basically stalled. What I do is greatly fueled by events and generally people think of having clothes made because they are going somewhere. I was stuck wondering what would be next for me and my business and how long things would take to pick up again. 

Like almost every other sector, I have been bombarded with information about how long it will take for economies to bounce back and that the only thing to do is brace oneself and prepare. Figuring what preparing means in a time of crisis is a different ball game all together especially in the ever changing creative sector. 

I decided to process what is happening by writing about it and also talking it through with my various creative friends, find out how they were taking it all and what they were doing. Some are part time creatives while others are full time. I got eleven of them to give me permission to write about it and I included mine as well. 

So here goes


Lorna Abwonji

How are you coping with Covid-19 crisis?

Well, the fact that no one really needs clothes made at this time because they aren’t going anywhere has affected my income in a major way.

I decided to take the time to work on some of my pending projects that I have always wanted to do, also work on my new wardrobe and possibly start my overdue YouTube channel to show my creative process when making dresses, costumes and other projects. 

Talking with friends, family and business people has enabled me to process what’s happening around me. Then, writing has kept me busy.

Also, as an introvert who works from home, the main new reality has been that I remember to wear a mask when I go out, otherwise staying home is fine with me.

What are you looking forward to after quarantine/ lock down is over?

At this moment, I just miss having the freedom of movement without all the precautions. I also miss giving people hugs and visiting all those that I promised to visit. So those are my immediate on my to do list after the quarantine is over. Hopefully i would also do some travelling when things settle.

I also look forward to just making clothes for people again with all these time I have used in working up my creative juices.

Quote: May you reach the purpose for which you were created despite the current circumstance, God has your back and He is in control, don’t fret.


 Irene Ng’endo Mukii 

Country: Kenya 

Occupation: Public Figure- Miss Africa, Dancer, Singer and Model 

How are you coping with covid-19 crisis?

I am struggling with being as productive with my talents as I possibly should be, with all the free time because of disruptions.

However, I am practicing being consistent, by having someone I check in with regularly for accountability.

What are you looking forward to after quarantine/ lock down is over?

Having just won the Miss Africa title last year in Nigeria, I am looking forward to working on my projects.

And I miss the gym😂

Quote: “It’s ok if your process and progress looks different this time round”



 Wambui Gikonyo

Country:  Kenya

Occupation: Musician (Keyboardist, Guitarist, Vocalist)

How are you coping with Covid-19 crisis?

I was in the middle of my final year of medical school so coping has definitely been difficult at times. It’s a huge adjustment from the life I had before.

However, I have taken the time to rest (there has been a lot of that) and I have also been teaching music online to keep busy (more info

It can be hard to find the motivation to be creative at times, days have passed without me looking at my instruments, however I’ve found that sitting outside with my guitar and playing whatever comes to me  can bring a stillness that is refreshingly different from the “stillness” (though more of chaotic stand still) that comes with this pandemic.

I have also explored other creative outlets, such cooking😁.

What are you looking forward to after quarantine/ lockdown is over?

After this whole thing simmers down, I really look forward to just being able to spend time with friends, hangout out at restaurants, and even serving at church.

QUOTE : I know it can be tough, being confined in this way and having your life turned around so unexpectedly can take a toll on your mental health. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it, seek help. Vulnerability is not weakness but STRENGTH. It takes strength to swallow our pride, it takes strength to silence the voices in our heads that might be telling us not to seek help, or that we are being a nuisance by asking for help. Being strong doesn’t have to mean fighting it alone. Sometimes your own mind can be your biggest enemy.


 Hooga Masele

Country : Tanzania

Occupation : Photography and Film

How are you coping with Covid-19 crisis?

During this Covid-19 crisis, I decided to share my skills by introducing different sessions in photography by training different photographers more about photographic skills. I teach them online mainly through a WhatsApp group I started.

What are you looking forward to after quarantine/ lock down is over?

I want to offer more training sessions on photography skills, on a more personal face to face space and learn more about other forms of photography as well.  I don’t want to be limited in my knowledge of the industry.

Quote: Help others with zero expectation of return.

Sylvia Omina Otsieno

Country: Kenya 

Occupation: Fashion Designer

How are you coping with Covid-19 crisis?

Business has generally slowed down so I’ve invested in mask making to survive.

I recently launched a sustainable fashion brand that specializes in jewelry made from banana fiber and clothing made from handmade cotton fabric that explores the handcrafts culture of the Elunyiko community

This involved training women in that community with handcrafting techniques and educating them on economic empowerment. But now I have to wait till things normalize. 

I’m also using this time to reevaluate my business and trying to put things together.

The pandemic has made people appreciate locally sourced products. Producing masks and protective equipment from locally sourced materials has made us rethink our ways of doing fashion and life in general, and also to reconsider using sustainable natural resources locally available to us.

What are you looking forward to after quarantine/ lockdown is over?

I look forward to exploring the innovative ideas that I’m getting as a result of this pandemic

Quote: Let’s save the environment, let’s go sustainable


 Maryanne Kabura Gathemia

Country: Kenya

Occupation: Writer, Farmer, Admin and Ops Manager, Teacher [I wear many hats]

How are you coping with the Covid-19 crisis?

I’m doing alright so far. This season has forced me to focus on what is important and also find alternative ways of doing things

What are you looking forward to after the quarantine/lockdown is over?

 Seeing other people, attending church, growing in my skills and talents such as writing. I am also discovering new things about myself and I miss being able to take a walk


“Remember to smile”. Nelson Mandela

“If you can’t change it, change your attitude” – Maya Angelou

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