My side hustle became my real job

Thursday, June 18th, 2020 00:00 |
Millicent Shibia.

Setting up a company to explore her passion, Millicent Shibia had no idea how fast this side job would become her main source of income, and she does not regret it.

Jasmine Atieno @sparkleMine

As she prepares to represent the country in the Mr and Miss United Universe Pageant in Peru, in November this year, Millicent Shibia, 26-year-old Nairobi-based model thinks back at how courage to embrace her journey in the fashion business brought her to this point.  

The founder and CEO of Shibia Trends Fashion House, Shibia Glamour and Shibia Glamour Fashion Show, says what started as a hobby turned into her main source of income. 

Born and raised in Kakamega county, Millicent lost her father at the age of 10. Her mother was a business lady. 

Although she undertook a diploma course in Information Communication Technology at Sigalagala Polytechnic, she was already very passionate about modeling and fashion.

She would draw sketches of outfits in a notebook, but would hide it from her family for fear of objections that may come with it.

In college, she attended modeling classes too, but just like her sketching, it was done in secrecy for she did not want her family to find out. 

Greener pastures

“I was afraid my mother would not be happy about it since most parents believe some careers are the better options, such as law and engineering.

I did not want to break her heart or make her feel like her efforts to put us through school, especially as a single parent were all being wasted,” shares Millicent.

In college, she started going for auditions, most of which did not go well but in November 2013, she was crowned Miss Sigalagala, a position she served until 2014.

From there, it was up and up; she was crowned Miss Environment Kakamega county in 2014, and has participated in many other fashion shows like Western Fashion Week 2016 and Kisumu Fashion Week 2016.

However, her greatest desire was to start her own fashion company. She knew that in order for this to happen she would have to get to the capital city.

“I worked as a cybercafé attendant in Kakamega, but moved to Nairobi in December 2016 to look for greener pastures.

I started out at Stepping Stones Primary School in Kitengela as a computer teacher in January 2017 and then at JOKIM Kenya as an IT assistant until I lost my job in December 2019.

Fortunately, I had already set up my own company, Shibia Glamour, in January 2019.

It organises beauty pageants and fashion shows,” says the last born in a family of six. 

She started the business with Sh80,000, which she had saved from her salary and sponsorships from a few friends who saw her determination.

She later borrowed an additional 20,000 shillings loan from a close friend to start Shibia Trends Fashion House.

When the idea of establishing a fashion house came to her, she did not have enough money to do it and even contemplated postponing to 2020.

However,  something deep inside kept pushing her to set it up at that same time as Shibia Glamour.

This is why she asked for a boost from her friend, and as fate has it, it is this same business that has been sustaining her during the challenging period of Covid-19 pandemic. 

“I started this show to give models and fashion designers back in the village a platform to showcase their talent and work.

I realised there were a lot of models but the platform was lacking. I also wanted to promote local talent since most people from the villages don’t explore their talents due to lack of platform and direction because most of these events take place only in towns,” she explains.

The first edition of Shibia Glamour Fashion Show made Millicent take her passion in design seriously. 

“I created a few designs, which I showcased at the event and to my surprise most people liked them.

Since then, I started receiving few orders from clients. I decided to start a fashion label, Shibia Trends, to help me meet my clients’ expectations.

I have been privileged to dress many people including prominent people like Ikolomani Member of Parliament, Hon Bernard Shinali, former speaker Hon Ekwe Ethuro, among others,” says Millicent. 

Back-up plan

In 2019, her company organised the first edition of Miss Butere, which is set to take place annually. She also held the first edition of Shibia Glamour Fashion Show hosting designers from Kenya and Uganda.

Unfortunately, the 2020 events had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The savings from her previous job helped her carry out her events without difficulties.

“My side hustle in fashion and design has turned out to be my real hustle since I got fired in December.

Thank God I had taken it seriously. That is exactly what I have been depending on during this hard time since we cannot host events. I always believe that hard work and determination really pays.

I am always inspired by my mother who managed to raise and educate us on her own with her small scale grocery business.

My advice to all employed friends is to always have a backup plan just in case. Also always believe in yourself and pray,” advises the super model.

More on Lifestyle