Hi, my name is Prossy Claire Awekonimungu, a part-time crochet designer and student. I’m the founder of The Kleah Collection, a Ugandan based online store. We deal in a variety of crochet items ranging from swimsuits, beach outfits, festival wear, bags and even baby wear. All these items are made with love to bring you heartfelt joy and warmth.
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I fell in love with crafting right from childhood. My granny and mum used to crochet table cloths back in the days when I was younger. That’s when I started dreaming of being a great designer when I grew up.
I learnt how to crochet at the age of 9 by just studying my granny and mum. I would then create my own designs making little doll clothes and designing outfits for my doll.
The BIG journey.
In my second year at university in 2019, I came across pictures of crochet wear on Pinterest and I was awed by the beautiful pieces. I told myself I could also make these pieces since I had a little bit of knowledge about crocheting. Immediately I went to the university library and started doing my research on crocheting and discovered a number of YouTube tutorials which I downloaded. I then used my allowance to purchase a 4.5mm crochet hook (because in most of the tutorials that’s what they used) plus chunky yarn. I was so naïve in that I just bought any yarn that looked like the ones used in the tutorials because in the local market we have the famous Kenyan brands robin and seal.
One weekend I decided to make a crochet top. Once done, I took pictures wearing the top and posted it on my WhatsApp. I realized a few of my contacts already knew about crochet wear and they were so excited for me. There and then I decided to invest my free time to bettering my crochet skills. At the end of my semester I got an internship and this helped me to stock my yarn stash and buy more hooks. Along the way I discovered Ugandan crochet designers who were earning an income from crocheting. That’s when I decided to venture into the business.
The Kleah Collection.
My brand, The Kleah Collection, was born from my name, Claire. I needed something that could easily be linked back to me. I put in lot of my time in watching tutorials and learning new skills and ideas about crocheting. When a friend ordered for a short and top, that was the beginning of the building my brand. The orders started coming in with various designs I had never created but I knew I couldn’t fail to recreate it.
Favourite crafting memory.
I have so many favorite crafting memories! At the top is when they closed all schools in Uganda in March of 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, I decided to go back to my hometown in Lira, located in the northern region of Uganda. I carried all my yarn and tools, since they had closed schools for three weeks. That’s when I realized I could use that time to create new designs and explore more.
During the lockdown, I would crochet new designs and post on my Instagram and Facebook accounts. I got a lot of positive comments from other crafters and friends assuring me how talented I was. I decided to create a whole new collection of crochet wear. This made me gain more confidence in my work and my followers started growing from that time till now.
My second favorite crafting moment was this year in March when I decided to order for t-shirt yarn from Osona Yarns because I had wanted to crochet beautiful bags inspired by photos on the same on Instagram and Pinterest.
My mum is my greatest inspiration. From 2019 when she saw I was earning from my crochet pieces, she invested in me and gave me more capital to invest in my business. She believes that I am destined for greatness and that keeps me going on a daily basis.
My mum is my greatest inspiration. She believes that I am destined for greatness and that keeps me going.
I also draw my inspiration from different places. My sense of fashion and nature inspires me a lot. The internet, especially Instagram and Pinterest, together with close friends and fellow crochet artists from around the world are my greatest inspiration.
Plans for The Kleah Collection.
I have a lot of plans for my brand in 2021 which include:
- Getting my online store up and running before the year ends
- Writing patterns and starting a YouTube channel to share my talent
- Growing my brand bigger than it is right now and to leave a legacy
I am most excited about creating new designs of my own and sharing it to the world. I am equally excited about exploring my skills and meeting great fellow artists.
Apart from crocheting, I am also venturing into tailoring world. I want to be able to create amazing pieces out of a combination of yarn and fabric. Curating garments that are outstanding and uniquely made is at the top of my list for my brand.
Influence of tribe and culture.
I am a from the Lango community from the northern part of Uganda. You can read more about the Lango HERE.
A Lango is brave and venturesome. This basically describes me throughout my crocheting years. The Lango are also very cheerful, good natured, polite and hospitable to strangers. Other crochet designers who have interacted with me via my socials believe I have these characters and I’m proud to be one.
I have been fortunate not to have experienced any racism or tribalism. However, when it comes to discrimination, I have encountered a few incidents, especially on social media with regard to my work. Getting information on how to do certain things from some crafters proves challenging as not all of them are quick to assist.
Another common huddle is clients failing to understand the value of handmade items, the time put in creating a particular piece and the price.
Taking The Kleah Collection international is another one. I would love to be able to ship my pieces to some of my clients in other countries.
To my fellow crafters.
Keep on crafting! Studies have shown that crocheting and knitting can reduce your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and increase the levels of dopamine and serotonin, the happiness hormones. By reducing stress, your body will relax, your heart rate will decrease, and you’ll feel better.
Disclaimer: All photos provided for the purposes of graphics & illustrations for this article, are from Prossy Claire Awekonimungu Of The Kleah Collection