About a year ago, through a women in business forum, I had the pleasure of meeting Lorna Mutegyeki, founder of Msichana. For many months our talks were solely online; we talked about our businesses, how things were going, and asked each other for advice and ideas. When I finally had the chance to meet Lorna in person it was like we had known each other for years, we both honestly forgot it was the first time we had met in person! Since then we have had many coffee dates, strategy sessions, text messages, and celebrations for each other’s accomplishments. Lorna is a beautiful soul so it only makes sense that the business she founded is one with a vision that embodies this same beauty. At the core of Msichana is a mission to empower and connect women globally through ethical luxury fashion. By creating designs considerate of the North American woman; using bold and beautiful African sourced fabrics; made by Ugandan women being trained in essential life and professional skills; Msichana is fashion that stands up and stands out and is quite literally changing the world with every piece created.
Recently Msichana set up in a unique space in charming downtown St. Albert. The Collective offers shared space retail opportunities to young people in
business; it is a modern and vibrant environment. My first visit to Msichana’s location was on the move in date, March 1, 2018. I spent some time with Lorna and her sister, Susan, working on some store flow and set up, but mostly enjoying the energy these two women bring to the space they are in. It was during this visit that the grand opening event idea was born.
I had an initial discovery meeting with Lorna and Monica, the Relationship Development Manager for Msichana, at The Collective. During this meeting we brainstormed and collaborated and the vision for the Msichana launch took off. Lorna loves art, it was very important for this element to be incorporated into the launch; along with it being an educational and above all a memorable experience for guests. With this concept in mind I developed the experiential
elements that would be crucial to the launch. This covered everything from theme to music to décor, food, and more; all event and customer touch points were looked at to ensure that the whole event was on brand and event vision.
The theme, to stay in line with Lorna’s love for art, was to give the space the feel of an art gallery. To achieve this feel we incorporated elements such as easels, art boards reminiscent of a fashion museum feel, and completely changed the layout of the store so that guests were weaved through the story of Msichana. The music playing throughout the event was a blend of African, modern fusion, soul, and jazz. The art boards communicated information on the design, fabric, and each one told the story of a different woman employed by Msichana in Uganda. Building the connection between the customer and the woman making the piece is a key part of the experience and by sharing the stories of these women, building a better life for themselves and their families, we are beginning that bond.
The day was planned into two events; a grand opening during the afternoon which was an open house style and a VIP After Hours Launch and Fashion Show. The open house event included all brand and event elements and it followed the art gallery feel with a cozy seating area to encourage guests to stay and engage in the Msichana experience. The VIP After Hours Launch and Fashion Show took place in the evening. Guests were greeted at the door by
Lorna and encouraged to grab a signature cocktail, or authentic chai or brewed coffee, as well as food. The fashion show delivered guests an educational, cultural, and fully Msichana experience, including spoken word performances to continue to build the artistic feel of the evening. After the show a quick turnaround was done to convert the store back into an art gallery. At this time guests visited, touched and felt the clothing, took photos in the luxury photo area set up, and overall enjoyed the feel of the evening. Ambient light was achieved through fairy lights and warm glow lamps; the photo area was lit up using photo lights to give it an even more glam feel.
The evening was magical, and I mean that so genuinely, the energy that filled the store was pure and real. The relationship I have with Lorna, the connection and belief I have in what she is building, the incredible team and support she has surrounded herself with and that I have been so blessed to connect with, are all at the core of why I love what I do. To put together an event that connects with people at such a base level and creates an energy so real and moving, what more could I ever ask for!
To learn more about Msichana and see their bold and empowering fashion check out www.msichana.com