Sarah Legrand is an aspiring entrepreneur determined to bring distinctiveness to the fashion world. She abandoned a modelling career and trained for ten years in jewellery making. Her brand, K’tsobe, is a collection of organic, architectural and tribal handmade products. The 33-year-old spoke to Women Today’s Sharon Kantengwa about her plans to set up an international brand in her home country Rwanda.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in Congo and then in Rwanda. It was only natural for me to come back home and share my knowledge and contribute mainly to the artistic development of Rwanda. It was important for me that K’tsobe jewellery is made and based in Rwanda.
Tell us about K’tsobe?
Through these exciting studies I created K’tsobe, after my mother clan the Abatsobe, who were the guardians of the seeds and the esoteric code of Rwanda and K stands for Keizia, my daughter’s name. K’tsobe is a brand of timeless jewellery, made from a fusion of natural material (seeds, wood, horn) and noble (silver, gold) but also brass, bronze, and enamel . I make collier, bracelets, rings, earrings, brooches, and cufflinks for men, women, and children. The products range from Rwf 8,000 to 320,000 depending on the quality.
What inspired this particular business?
I was modelling in Belgium for four years from 2000 to 2004 but after that great experience, I decided to do creation and design. My source of inspiration come from my Belgian-Rwandan origin, of nature and symbols that come from the different cultures found in my travels. Some of my jewellery was also inspired by an artist called Byram Tunez.
Where do you get the material that you use?
I brought some of the material from Belgium, but I buy some of the local ones from here. I also want to buy from India because they have good material.’
How are they made and what makes them unique?
They are inspirational and made using different techniques. Some are handmade while others are made using the post wax technique. The uniqueness about them is that they are architectural, organic and tribal. I make jewellery for all occasions and I like to create pieces that allow people to express themselves.
What are your dreams for this business?
My dream is that K’tsobe becomes an international brand made in Rwanda. I will be having an exhibition with other designers on December 12 and 13 at Dokmai Rwanda Shop in Gacuriro where three designers will showcase their products for shoes, bags, and jewellery by Dokmai Rwanda, Uzuri K&Y, and K’tsobe respectively.
I would also like to share my knowledge with other people by opening up a jewellery school in the near future.
What challenges are you facing?
When I came back to Rwanda to set up K’tsobe, I had a challenge of net working and getting to know how the market was here. This kind of business requires a partner to work with but because I can’t find well trained personnel, I have to send some of the material for finishing in Belgium. I am currently training one person to help me with my work but I still need an expatriate for the complicated designs.
How can one find your pieces?
For the moment, they can find K’tsobe jewellery at Dokmai Rwanda in Gacuriro but I am hoping to own a workshop and showroom soon.
Any fashion tips you would like to share?
It is important that they do not limit their choice and to personalise their accessories. They should be able to reveal the uniqueness of the person wearing them, and express their personality.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
My advice to them is to be patient, never give up and believe in what they want to do. If they do not believe in themselves, they will not succeed.