Kahmune is the brainchild of Jamela Acheampong. The London based entrepreneur has launched a brand that aims to address the lack of diversity in the luxury footwear industry.
We wanted to find out more about more about her and her business. This is what she had to say:
SB: What inspired the creation of Kahmune?
JA: Kahmune was inspired by my own personal struggle to see myself, more particularly my skin tone, represented in the fashion industry. I spent hours searching online last year for a nude shoe that would match my dark complexion.
When you search the term “nude” it returns garments and accessories that are the same beige and tan colours and or hues, that are far from nude on my complexion.
I found it ridiculous, and slightly infuriating, that in 2016 something like this was still an issue! Why shouldn’t myself, or anyone else for that matter, be able to have access to skin tone accessories?
It was in that moment that I decided to make sure it was an issue no longer. ALL skin tones are beautiful and we all deserve to have our beauty represented in the fashion industry.
JA: What has been the most gratifying part of your entrepreneurial journey so far? What has been the most challenging?
The most gratifying part of the journey so far has been the transition towards being my own boss and making my own decisions. It’s something that I’ve always dreamed of doing and always known I wanted to do. It just feels right.
Additionally, a large part of my daily motivation has come from the response to the brand. Reading the comments, emails, and various messages from women across the globe has been incredible.
Hearing about how excited they are about Kahmune or that it’s given them more pride in their skin tone has made this journey more than worth it!
The most challenging part has been doing everything on my own! I do it all- social media, emails, production, etc and it has proved to be quite demanding. It’s also been difficult dealing with the process of manufacturing shoes in themselves.
I’ve had to change manufacturers a few times and have experienced quite a few delays in production but it’s all part of the process!
SB: Can you explain the process of finding and selecting the right manufacturer?
JA: What I’ve learned now is it’s all about finding the right fit. It took me two tries to get it right but as they say third is the charm! Naturally, the most important part of the process is finding a manufacturer that you are confident will do your product justice.
I spent a lot of time researching European manufactures and was lucky to come across a group in Italy that specializes in matching new brands with Italian factories. I corresponded with a few before I traveled out to Italy to tour the one factory I felt most confident about.
Once I had seen the level of quality of the samples they made and was confident production was ethical and fair I knew I had found the right match.
SB: How did you decide what to name each shoe color?
JA: Having been fortunate enough to have a very international upbringing I wanted to pay tribute to that in some way with the brand. To a certain degree you can attribute various skin tones to different regions of the world so I thought having each shade reflect this was the way to go.
Kumasi was a shoe-in as that is the city my family is from on both my mother and father’s sides. Enugu is dedicated to my niece and nephew whose father’s family hails from that city in Nigeria. Juba was a must because I’ve always been so appreciative of the beautiful, dark skin tones of the people of that area in South Sudan.
Rio and Goa I chose to acknowledge two areas that have an incredible amount of diversity within them. I really wanted to celebrate that.
I chose Singapore because it also has an incredible amount of diversity in it’s population and I wanted to use an Asian city because through my research I found that many women of Asian descent feel left out of the beauty and fashion conversations.
Not with Kahmune! The last few names are quite sentimental. They’re dedicated to some amazing friends I have that are from those cities and regions.
SB: Where do you see the company in 5 years?
JA: Other than world domination? Though Kahmune is, and will always be at its core a luxury womens’ footwear line I’m definitely not ruling anything out in terms of product. In 5 years, we hope to have a few flagship stores around the globe as well as the moniker as the leading retailer of skin tone garments and accessories.
The goal is to be known for our sense of community and dedication to diversity, inclusion, and representation. In 5 years Kahmune will have set the bar in terms of what it means to run a truly inclusive luxury brand in this day and age.
SB: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
JA: Don’t give up!!! If you have your heart set on a goal take the steps to achieve it. Work a bit on that goal everyday and remember that your journey is YOUR journey- don’t compare yourself to others.
Your brand is only as good as the passion and dedication you put behind it. You need to be your own number one fan. When people see how excited you are about your dreams they will be too. Don’t underestimate the importance of the basics, and appreciate all your gains – no matter how small or big.
Do your research. Build a business plan. Network, Network, Network- you’ll learn very early on, that what they say is true – your network is your net worth. Build a team who understands and shares your vision; no one man or woman is an island.