What you need to know:
- I am a trained fashion designer and my degree is in design.
- In many ways, it has been useful, because the design will always be integral in creating solutions for the world - especially in terms of sustainability for the future of this planet.
- Currently, I am enjoying sketching and painting my quirky fashion illustrations online.
Nyacomba Githu, also known by her nickname Jonas, is a freelance fashion designer and illustrator based in Nairobi, as well as the founder of Free Mind Sessions, an event centred on open-mindedness, conversation, and introspection. Her way of connecting with human beings has also been through conversation, to breed an environment of vulnerability, courage, transparency, and confidence that paves the way to building a working relationship beyond just making fancy designs and garments.
1.Why in the world is your nickname Jonas?
I was obsessed with the Jonas Brothers when I was a teenager! From their music to their movies…so my cousins used to poke fun at me, and eventually, the nickname stuck over time.
2.What do you do in the world of fashion? Is your school degree in fashion arts? Do you think it was useful for you? What are you planning to do with your drawing and fashion this year?
I am a trained fashion designer and my degree is in design. In many ways, it has been useful, because the design will always be integral in creating solutions for the world - especially in terms of sustainability for the future of this planet. Currently, I am enjoying sketching and painting my quirky fashion illustrations online.
3.Free Mind sessions is in its fourth year. Tell me a little bit about why you started it, and some challenges you faced; for example, is getting event space tricky in Nairobi? Why do you think this is?
After creating a fashion line - Ethereal Bohemia - in my third year of university, I thought about the thesis part of it, which led me to imagine: What would happen in a world where each of us first existed only as a bodiless creature, comprising a brain and a soul and then, in the afterlife, gained our bodies? I imagined that we would be more tolerant, and not judge people for superficial reasons. If we were just souls with a brain, we would be more accepting of one another. [and that’s what led to the concept of Free Mind Sessions, to free our minds into this state]
Yes, [finding event space is] sometimes tricky because nobody gets your idea until they see it in action. Kengeles, our very first venue space, was still rigid about the idea. Eventually, my friend Matt Swallow allowed us to use his backyard at the Alchemist for several months after that, which was vital for our growth.
4.How has Free Mind Sessions pivoted during the pandemic?
We have learnt to adapt through our virtual sessions. We even pride ourselves on being this amazing informal networking space that is safe to open up in and share opinions, however outlandish they are. The pandemic has also propelled us to finally start our podcast so that we can have an extensive space to have these conversations beyond the sessions/events.
5.How do you think the arts, and creatives, are impacted by the state of our government and politics, especially as we come up to an election year?
Oh, deeply! I cannot begin to express how government decision making - especially in the distribution of funding, or making it accessible for us to create our craft freely without the fear of it being deemed as too raw and too expressive - has hindered many of us from fully embracing who we are. It is an election year [next year] will not only change gears on focusing on who we need to vote for but increase anxiety among us creatives on figuring out how we truly make our voices heard for the greater good of everyone's future.