- New look. Christine Akello Bradshaw, commonly known as Tina Brad, is known for her sense of style.
- Her boutique Tina Brad Store is a favourite for Ugandan fashionistas, writes Esther Oluka.
What does your job as a stylist involve?
I purchase clothes in bulk, and, thereafter sell to clients. You can call me a fashion collector. But unlike other clothes dealers, I love to guide my clients on what to exactly wear for their body types, skin tones as well as help them select accessories to coordinate or match with the outfit. I do this free of charge for every client. But it is different for celebrity styling for shows, photo shoots and videoshoots.
How different is your work from that of a fashion designer?
Most Ugandans confuse designers with stylists. They call every person with some interest in fashion a designer, which is wrong. Designers sketch designs and create outfits, most of us simply use these designer’s clothes to style our clients, that does not make me a designer, I am a stylist.
When did you realise you wanted to pursue a career as a stylist?
Fashion is something that has always fascinated me. Right from my school days. I loved dressing up and looking smart. And over time, most people started calling me designer. That alone was a motivation that propelled me to open up a small shop in 2007. I operated the shop in Kireka, a suburb located outside the city centre after my diploma course that same year.
What is the biggest fear you had while starting out as a stylist?
The fear to fail, and, also because I had left my media career for fashion. I kept thinking what would happen in case I did not succeed. In the end, this fear motivated me to work even harder.
What is the biggest challenge you find on the job?
Meeting the operational costs for running the business can be tough at times because the business is seasonal. Like, currently, it is a “dry season” with few clients, yet, I have to pay rent and workers.
Right now, social media is such a big deal. What role has it played in the growth of your brand?
It has been very fundamental in making me the person I am today. I remember times when I would constantly post pictures of different fashion items including outfits and people would reach out and tell me to make deliveries. I have been able to get a number of clients, thanks to social media. It is a fantastic marketing platform which has really worked for me.
Your biggest career highlight so far...
Winning the Abryanz Style and Fashion Awards (ASFAs) for best stylist, 2017. It felt great being recognised for my hard work. I found that humbling. That award motivated me to work harder. Also, I have had the opportunity to style some of the country’s notable personalities including politicians such as Judith Babirye, Buikwe Woman MP, musicians like Juliana Kanyomozi who is very humble and respectful. My other good customers are socialities like Judith Heard, Fabiola, among others.
Where do you want your brand to be in the near future?
I have big dreams for my brand. I want to make my own clothing line instead of selling other designers’. To do it successfully, I am planning on studying a course in design.
What important lessons have you learned from your business over the last years?
In this business, I deal with all sorts of clients with different temperaments. In order to accommodate every personality, I have learnt to be very patient and humble before clients. Such traits enable me deal with them easily. Also, I have learnt not to mix business and friendship. I have come to realise that mixing these two can easily fail the business.
Who do you look up to for inspiration?
I love Victoria Beckham (a renowned fashion designer and former member of singing group, Spice Girls). Besides her splendid sense of fashion, I love how she juggles her business and family life. And, I always wonder how she maintains her petite body after having children.
What are your top five styling tips?
When you are shopping for a jacket, coat, or blazer, pay attention to the fit around the shoulders. While a tailor can tweak pretty much everything about the fit of a jacket—from tapering the waist to shortening it—they can’t change the shoulders. Make sure the seams sit perfectly at the bony tops of your shoulders.
To build a closet full of staples, you need versatile items in your wardrobe.
Start with a few key pieces that you can wear with most things you have. A piece you should absolutely invest in is a perfectly fitting blazer, smoking jacket, or cropped jacket that can be worn with jeans, a dress and on a plane, among others places.
Also, figure out the style of jeans that looks best on you and buy them in a few colours. Another must-have is a white men’s-style shirt–they’re great as a top layer and perfect for throwing on with jeans.
Not sure about your personal style? You need to ask yourself what kind of image you want to project and what makes you feel the most confident. This will help you find your own personal style.