I Work With Anyone That Is Interested In My Work – Fashion Designer Lokuwa
By Baguma Simon
These days, if you want to be taken seriously as an uptown girl or a girl with swag, you need a croche outfit in your closet. Pepper chatted with famous crochet and fashion designer Ivanah Pheonah Lokuwa about her work and lifestyle. Below is our conversation.
Red Pepper: Hello Fiona, I truly appreciate you agreeing to do this interview. Please introduce yourself to the readers.
Ivanna: Hello, thank you my name is IVANAH L’OKUA PHEONAH, though I prefer to be called L’OkUA CEO LOKUA CROCHETS (Am a crochet designer)
Red Pepper: Tell us about your childhood, education, and family.
Ivanna: My childhood was unique. We played a lot of different kinds of games like hide and seek, kwepena, etc. We were restrained by family members from going anywhere without their permission.
Generally, it was about staying around and reading your books with my siblings and the few relatives we were staying with. Did my primary at Homing Dove international primary school Moyo where I did my PLE in 2004 then in 2005, I joined St Lawrence schools and colleges (Kabaka’s campus, now Crown City) where I completed my O level (2008), A level London college (2009) and cream land campus (2010).
After that, I got an opportunity to get admission at Taylor’s university lake campus Malaysia where I did a one-year degree in international business but unfortunately didn’t complete that course so I flew back to Uganda and I got admission at Cavendish university to study HRM then graduated in 2016. In 2019, I decided to pursue a project management certificate. And Monitoring and evaluation at labor college Namuwongo.
My family is polygamous. My dad had two wives, but my mom passed away so it’s now my step-mom. Dad and my two siblings were only four, but my other brother passed away also. I’m the firstborn and we had many relatives growing up, uncles, s and cousins. All in all, it was an extended family.
Red Pepper: What prompted you to pursue a career as a stylist?
Ivanna: Let’s say I was searching for work with no positive outcome, so one day I just woke up and decided to try crocheting fashion and marketing on social media, my goal was to make some money to support my personal needs while I searched for employment. I had never thought of taking it so far. Now I’m so deep into it that I’m not even looking in the direction of looking for a job (working for someone)
Red Pepper: Describe your style in 3 words
Ivanna: vintage, elegant and unique
Red Pepper: What’s your wardrobe MVP?
Ivanna: The heels
Red Pepper: What would you never wear and why?
Ivanna: Short skirts. I just don’t like them
Red Pepper: How long have you been a celebrity stylist?
Ivanna: Not long although I worked with a few from my hometown, Chandia Dorothy Michael, Mr. Mawa A Moses, Skillah and Ritah, and Sandra (miss tourism Busoga 2019-2021)
Red Pepper: What advice would you give an up-and-coming fashion stylist?
Ivanna: Don’t let the negative vibes get you down. Be brave and stay focused.
Red Pepper: What’s your approach when you first start styling someone? Do you ask questions and go through their closet?
Ivanna: Yes, I ask questions, especially for what occasion and all that.
Red Pepper: Who have been some of your inspirations, mentors, or role models?
Ivanna: My dad from day one has been my mentor and some few friends that always encourage me to push harder
Red Pepper: As a celebrity stylist, what are some opportunities you have been blessed to get your hands on?
Ivanna: There haven’t been many opportunities, but hopefully one will knock
Red Pepper: What in your opinion makes the perfect red carpet look?
Ivanna: Wear something that suits your body shape
Red Pepper: What’s the most fun part of your job?
Ivanna: it keeps me from being available for unnecessary activities and the fact that I sometimes work till late like 4 am it’s just fun and I enjoy it
Red Pepper: Where do gender and sexuality stand for you, in your styling process?
Ivanna: I work with anyone that is interested in my work. There is no limit.
Red Pepper: Favorite look that you’ve styled to date?
Ivanna: One custom I made as my talent during a pageant (Miss Madi) in 2016
Red Pepper: What has been the most memorable moment in your career so far?
Ivanna: Working with the CEO of Afroglobe TV Canada, Moses A Mawa, and some customers placing more than twice as many orders as 400000 — this is huge as a crochet fashion designer.
Red Pepper: What would you do if a client insisted on purchasing an ill-fitting item?
Ivanna: I always adhere to the motto “do what the customer wants or needs”
Red Pepper: If you could choose a celebrity closet to shop in, who would it be and why?
Ivanna: I would stick with Spice Diana. She got her style under control by knowing what to wear, how, and where
Red Pepper: What challenges do you have as a stylist?
Ivanna: Having to make an outfit that is too small or too large due to incorrect measurements sent by customers far from my location is time-consuming.
Red Pepper: Tell us about your favorite red carpet memory.
Ivanna: the recently concluded Asfa. With the theme
Red Pepper: Which current trends would you incorporate into your clothing selections?
Ivanna: In Ivanna, beads like rhinestones, diamonds, and etch combine nicely with crocheted pieces.
Red Pepper: Describe the most challenging person you have worked with. What did you learn?
Ivanna: One lady simply drew one conclusion about me being a corned woman (she posted me in a WhatsApp group) because of late delivery, so this particular experience was a positive thing, but I’ve learned to always communicate if a delivery is late.
Red Pepper: Who in your life brings you positive vibes and positive energy?
Ivanna: I don’t have any particular type of person, but I’ve got my cousins who are always full of positive vibes and positive energy
Red Pepper: Which trends do you want to see disappear?
Ivanna: Those big canvas skirts the ladies wear that look huge on their tiny legs like mine.
Red Pepper: What goals do you wish to achieve in the future?
Ivanna: To be a successful business lady because besides crocheting I have two other business ideas I would like to introduce to the market.
Red Pepper: Give us a piece of infallible styling advice for our readers
Ivanna: You can never go wrong with a jumpsuit.
Red Pepper: How did your family react when you told them about your career choice?
Ivanna: Well, I never really told anyone that I wanted to be a crocheter. Instead, they just saw me doing it, and most of them were giving me negative vibes about where this crocheting would get me. In spite of this, I kept my cool, so over time they began to buy it. My dad also joined me since he learned about what I was doing as well.
Red Pepper: Being a stylist can be a very stressful job at times. How do you want to cope with the pressure?
Ivanna: To avoid unnecessary pressure, I would prefer orders to be placed as early as possible. That is two weeks before the scheduled delivery date, and for express orders, I determine first whether the design can be completed within the stipulated timeframe.
Red Pepper: What’s the number one thing that really turns you off about celebrities, and makes you unlikely to work with them?
Ivanna: My experience with most of them is limited since I haven’t worked with most of them.
Red Pepper: What’s next for you this year?
Ivanna: My goal is to become global with my crochet by setting up my shoots on Etsy and Ravelry. I will also be creating YouTube tutorials, and most importantly working with some of the big celebritiesUganda.