A fashion idea born in the thick of a gruelling engineering course has given Nairobi one of its most viable clothing brands.
Home_ 254 is a Kenyan fashion brand that gives people that Kenyan feeling wherever they are around the world. It was founded as a way to bring together fashion and patriotism.
Home _254 has made a name for itself in the design of casual wear, both in Kenya and abroad. The clothing brand specializes in custom-made hoodies, T-shirts, sweatshirts, vests, caps and backpacks with over 300,000 apparels sold since inception.
Its founder, Job Brian Jura, 30, known to his peers as J’B, says the fashion bug bit him while he was a fourth-year electronics and computer engineering student at JKUAT.
“The idea of home_254 started in 2015. I created the designs myself. A lot of clothing lines to show patriotism exist, so I had to come up with something different that still celebrates our country.”
J’B explains that he wanted to make his company stand out from the many existing garment makers who were using the Kenyan flag in their clothes. “As Kenyans, we love our country and we enjoy showing it off, so home_254 was a way of showing this by not necessarily using the traditional ways of wearing apparels made from the colours of the flag.”
The fashionpreneur J’B started his business around the time Safaricom launched Mshwari. He took a loan of Sh2,400 through the platform and topped up with the Sh2,400 he already had.
“I used the money to buy plain hoodies, sweat shirts and T-shirts, and then hired a heat-press vinyl to print the Home_254 logo.”
However, his first products did not get any takers for about two weeks.
“This was really heartbreaking because I thought that my classmates would be my clients and make orders, but none of them made a single purchase.”
The clothes, however, caught the attention of his neighbours, and through their referrals, the orders started streaming in from across the city.
The breakthrough for his clothing brand was when media personality, Jibril Blessing popularly known as Jblessing wore his t-shirt in a Churchill show episode. That was when people saw his brand and started showing interest.
Home_254 has since become a busy production outfit, adding new designs to its stable and creating employment for four tailors. He currently has 24 employees.
Home_ 254 apparels are locally stitched and branded at JbeeJura designs.
The prices depend on sizes and type but generally, for hoodies they retail at Sh3,300, sweatshirts Sh3,200,Tshirts Sh1,500,Bomber Jacket Sh3,900 and sweatpants Sh3,200.
Home_254 also has a kids version that retails from Sh850 to Sh2,800.
“It’s our clients and potential customers who challenge me to try out more stuff. That is what got me to introduce new designs for the ladies, from crop tops to turtlenecks.”
He has also grown through partnerships with Coke Studio and collaborations of exclusive collections with public figures like Foi Wambui, Avril, The Dufanda Family and others.
“The difference we are making is to ensure we rediscover ourselves and get creative with what we love doing and grow ourselves to be better people.”
Besides its Kenyan customers, the casual wear brand also has a presence in Dubai, the US, Canada and Germany; markets JB reached through an active social media presence on Facebook and Instagram.
“For most of our marketing, the company is riding the Internet revolution - using Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, WhatsApp and our website to market and connect with our customers.”
JB’s dream is to one day trade in the Nairobi Security Exchange (NSE) and to build a sustainable fashion brand.