In this exclusive interview, we delve into the inspiring journey of Jamela Acheampong, the visionary founder of Kahmune. Born out of personal frustration with the lack of nude footwear options for darker skin tones, Kahmune has since become a beacon of inclusivity in the fashion industry. Jamela’s relentless pursuit of equality and representation has not only redefined the concept of “nude” but also challenged the status quo in an industry often resistant to change.
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Jamela shares her experiences, from the initial spark that led to the creation of Kahmune, to the challenges she faced in her quest for inclusivity. She discusses the importance of representation and why it should be more than just a passing trend. With high-profile endorsements from celebrities like Kiki Palmer, Lupita Nyong’o and Khloe Kardashian, Kahmune has made significant strides in its mission, but Jamela emphasizes that the journey is far from over.
Finally, Jamela offers invaluable advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly women, who wish to make their mark in the fashion industry. Her story serves as a testament to the power of passion, persistence, and belief in one’s mission.
So, whether you’re an entrepreneur, a fashion enthusiast, or someone who believes in the importance of representation, this interview promises to inspire and enlighten. Dive in to discover more about the woman behind the brand that’s changing the face of fashion, one shoe at a time.
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1. Jamela, can you share with us the inspiration behind founding Kahmune and how your personal experiences influenced this decision?
Kahmune was born out of my frustration with the limited options available for my complexion. Being a dark-skinned woman, I encountered the near impossibility of finding footwear that matched my shade of Nude. I can be quite persistent, especially when it concerns matters I consider inequitable or should be self-evident. Prior to starting this brand, I devoted over four hours to searching for skin-tone options that matched my complexion, and still, I came up empty-handed. Recognizing that many other women likely faced the same issue, I made the decision to take action!
2. You’ve been instrumental in redefining the concept of “nude” in the fashion industry. Can you elaborate on the challenges you faced in this journey and how you overcame them?
Sadly, one of the greatest challenges I’ve encountered is facing individuals who perceive my efforts as ‘unnecessary’ or ‘excessive.’ It’s disheartening when someone attempts to invalidate not only your experiences but also your aspiration to have more options for yourself. As a new brand, there have been moments when establishing a presence was arduous. Breaking into the fashion industry can be exceptionally challenging. Many have questioned why they should support us instead of brands with more experience or those with different price points. Nevertheless, I’m immensely proud to affirm that the quality of our products speaks volumes for itself.
3. Can you talk about the importance of inclusivity in footwear and why it’s more than just a trend for Kahmune?
Yes! I absolutely dislike it when people label what we’re doing as a mere trend. We are far from that. We firmly believe that everyone, irrespective of their complexion, deserves a nude option. In my view, our mission aligns with the increased representation we’re witnessing in makeup shades and clothing sizing by various brands. Recognizing and catering to the diverse, individualized needs of consumers is not something that should be dismissed as a passing trend. It’s a lasting change that’s here to stay.
4. Your brand has been recognized by celebrities like Lupita Nyong’o and Khloe Kardashian. How does it feel to have such high-profile endorsements and what impact has it had on your business?
I can’t deny it – it felt incredible! Khloe was one of the first high-profile celebrities to give us a shout-out. I’ll never forget my friend texting me, saying, ‘The Kardashians are talking about you and Kahmune!’ The level of engagement and the surge in followers were astonishing. It was surreal to read through all the comments and witness the immense support for what we’re doing. Being a huge Lupita fan, I was beyond flattered to have her wear Kahmune. I’m grateful that she trusted us early on to compliment some of her most stunning looks.
5. You’ve mentioned that you had to develop your own materials and components from scratch. Can you share more about this process and the hurdles you had to overcome?
What many people may not grasp about footwear is that it involves not just art but also science. In Italy, where we manufacture our shoes, most factories typically don’t produce sizes beyond an EU 41, roughly equivalent to a US 10, depending on the style. My sister wears a US 12 and has voiced her frustration for years about the limited options and stylish choices available to her. That’s why, right from the start, I was determined to offer sizes up to at least US 12, if not larger. Developing these larger sizes for each of our styles was a lengthy and costly process, and it didn’t come without a few broken heels along the way. However, it was a cause that meant a lot to me. Additionally, not all of our 10 shades were readily available on the market. Through extensive sampling and testing, I was able to create custom shades that accurately matched the skin tones of our diverse consumer base.
6. Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly women, who are looking to break into the fashion industry?
Solve a problem or create something you’re passionate about. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy, and you won’t become a millionaire overnight. However, if you genuinely love what you’re building, it will make it easier to navigate the inevitable hurdles that you will face.