Each year, the ESSENCE Festival marketplace serves as a unique platform where Black-owned businesses are highlighted and given the opportunity to engage with thousands of patrons from across the country and around the world.
Kenyan-born designer Hilda Mauya is an ESSENCE Festival veteran who is excited to bring her original handcrafted handbags, accessories and more to the Festival this year! We recently caught up with Hilda to get the inside scoop on her experience with vending at ESSENCE Festival, advice for aspiring designers, what she has in store for this year's Festival and more. Check out our interview with her below.
On what she remembers most about her first time vending at ESSENCE Festival:
"I remember it being an overwhelming and new experience for me because I didn't know what to expect. But, my team and I had done enough research to keep us going. And of course, the Shops at Essence marketplace production team makes sure every new vendor doesn't feel lost and made sure we had resources to help everyone get in the flow of events."
On how her business has grown or expanded since starting her ESSENCE Fest journey:
"It has grown tremendously. I gained numerous clients from celebrities who came to our booth and shopped with us, to amazing, life long clients I gained from the experience that have become family as well as loyal clients. My business grew because my clients I gained from the experience were from all over the world and from all walks of life. It was just amazing how everyone accepted and welcome and loved our designs. Our African prints were embraced and that was heartwarming to see. I am from Kenya, East Africa and seeing that solidified why I do what I do."
On some of the unique benefits of vending at ESSENCE Festival:
"You meet clients from all over the world that actually appreciate the work of art and the African culture; very beautiful experience. You get to expand your clientele and absolutely tap into a new target population. There is thousands and thousands of people that attend Essence Festival and that is a golden opportunity for any vendor to teach the buyers about your brand."
On advice for new or aspiring vendors and entrepreneurs:
"Stay true to who you are as an artist/designer and definitely listen to your customers/ Clients. I strongly believe they are the voice of truth because they are your target population. It can be overwhelming for a 1st first but as the days go by you get the flow of things."
On why ESSENCE Festival attendees should stop by her booth at this year’s Festival:
"Because our products are unique, one of a kind, unparalleled, unrepeatable, authentic quality and well handcrafted. Each of our pieces has a story to tell. Most of our products are handcrafted in Kenya and Nigeria with lots of love. We are a one stop shop for fashion. We have unique handcrafted handbags, accessories, clothing, hats, that are all one of a kind and original. None are mass produced. That's what our brand is all about; unique style and design. So stop by Dahil Republic of Couture Booth and enjoy our authentic African fashion experience and meet me!"
Plan your trip to the 2017 ESSENCE Festival today! For more information, visit the official Festival website HERE.