Vivian Taabu Okumu, aka Swiry Nyar Kano, describes herself as an African history and spirituality content creator, mental health advocate, Microbiology and Biotechnology Graduate, and African fashion designer.
We interviewed her for the Guinness Black Shines Bright series, and this is what she had to say.
What can you tell us about yourself?
I am a River-Lake Nilote fashion designer who grew up in Kano and is looking to expand, explore, and share my art, lessons, and philosophies with those around me.
When did you begin your fashion career?
Because I was born to a tailor mother, fashion has always been a part of my journey, perfectly intertwined in its own timeline in my life.
What prompted you to begin?
My desire to express myself. My desire to recall what my ancestors' fashion would have evolved into if colonial interference had not occurred.
How's your creative process going?
Nature, weather, storytelling, folktales... all inspire me. Fashion, to me, is an expression of emotions as well as identity.
What difficulties have you encountered along the way?
I'd call them "lessons" rather than "challenges"... I discovered that the system is set up in such a way that maneuvering it requires a variety of strategies...However, with the right mindset and drive, I have seen that the system is penetrative.
When did your big break come?
When I was featured in the Guinness Book of World Records' Black Shines Brightest Stories. That was the experience that completely changed my career...
Please share your Guinness Black Shines Brightest stories with us.
Guinness Black Illuminates the Best Stories I was shocked to be a part of it because it appeared in my life at a time when my Fashion Career was at its "Rawest Form."
It gave me confidence and showed me that I am capable of shining even brighter after interacting with other African Stars.
What drew you to participate in the show, and how was your experience?
The name "Black Shines Brightest" rang true with my Soul and struck a personal chord with me.
The experience has been extremely uplifting. I am grateful to Guinness for providing me with the opportunity to teach masterclasses at Guinness events.They provide me with an excellent opportunity to introduce my Kenyan brothers and sisters to their ancient fashion history and identity.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Be prepared for the "Unexpected"
What advice do you have for young people who want to be fashion designers?
Prepare to be a full-time "midwife," ready to witness all of the unpleasant stages of bringing a "baby" into this world, because in fashion, "every creation is a newborn."