Interview: I decided to be the change — German based Ugandan fashion consultant Beatrace Oola talks about life, Africa and fashion

We had a chat with Ugandan raised Germany-based fashion consultant Beatrace Oola about her perspective of Africa, fashion and everything in-between. Yes, Moses Abeka met her at Makerere University where she was overseeing a photo shoot, just a day to 2018 and had this chat.

When did you start getting involved in fashion?

I started in 2009 with my career as a stylist and then I continued to be a fashion consultant. Then I formed Africa Day Berlin in 2012 and the first show was in 2013. My fashion career is all about creating images showing the positive side of Africa, highlighting designers. I work with visual artists, photographers…

What was the inspiration?

I am coming from the production side. In 2007, I worked with different film production companies in production design and it is where I noticed that they worked closely with costume designers. I actually wanted to be a fashion designer.

Were you parents okay with it when you wanted to be a fashion designer?

My parents were like, ‘Fashion designer? No way! No way!’ Everybody was giving me all this negative stuff about fashion designing but I still wanted to do something in the creative field. So I studied producing and economics, I always studied something creative on the side. My mum owned two fashion shops in Germany and I was always with her when she was buying clothes, setting up the shops so I grew up with fashion and that’s my passion. I think it was only a matter of time when I would go into it proper and with this platform, Fashion Africa Now, it is just the beginning.

Why Fashion Africa Now in Germany?

In Europe, the perspective is that Africa is poor, there is only poverty, war and diseases. So, they don’t see beauty, anything good or positive. For me, growing up in Germany and seeing this negative image, I decided to be the change. I said, I want to show positive images. I want to show this beautiful contemporary African fashion.

Had you been here before?

Yes, I had been travelling to Uganda. I have a family here.

What is the perspective of the black community about Africa?

The ones who are educated and the ones who know their history are absolutely proud of Africa but we have a lot of black people in Diaspora who are not conscious and have no clue about their origins and have serious identity problem.

What’s your take on the creative industry in Uganda?

I am really impressed about the creative industry in Uganda; what they have achieved and how they work together. The young generations are aware of the value of their work. It’s a pity the old generation are not aware. They are losing a lot of money in this industry. In Europe, they are buying our art and funding creatives. At the end of the day, we are just producers and not getting value of our art. I am for Buy Uganda, Buy Uganda.

What are some of your favourite Ugandan fashion brands?

Oh…I love Gloria Wavamunno, Eguana Kampala, Zanaa Jewellery, Kwesh, Lamula Nassuna.

Tell about today’s photo shoot

Today we are shooting with different Ugandan designers. We are on holiday so I am shooting in collaboration with Photographer Papashotit, JMM, and I enjoyed working with the models; Aliba, Ronald Waiswa, Ayak. I think its really important to co-operate. I have my networks internationally and I think its really great to work together.

What have been some of your biggest projects that you have been part of?

In 2013, 2015 runway show in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin . I was able to bring designers from African countries It was a really big project. And besides that, we have worked with a foundation in SA to get knowledge about model management; we have exhibitions, fashion trade show in Berlin.