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'Sweet but fierce': Fashion brand creates buzz with Africa-inspired designs

From Marc Hoeferlin, for CNN
updated 6:11 AM EDT, Fri June 27, 2014
 Inzuki Designs is a Kigali-based startup that specializes in jewelry, accessories and interior decor. Inzuki Designs is a Kigali-based startup that specializes in jewelry, accessories and interior decor.
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Fashion brand Inzuki Designs
Fashion brand Inzuki Designs
Fashion brand Inzuki Designs
Fashion brand Inzuki Designs
Fashion brand Inzuki Designs
Fashion brand Inzuki Designs
Fashion brand Inzuki Designs
Fashion brand Inzuki Designs
Fashion brand Inzuki Designs
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rwandan entrepreneur Teta Isibo is the owner of Inzuki Designs
  • The fashion brand specializes in handmade jewelry, accessories and interior decor
  • Its locally-source products fuse traditional craftsmanship and contemporary style

Every week, African Start-Up follows entrepreneurs in various countries across the continent to see how they are working to make their business dreams become reality.

(CNN) -- Teta Isibo had always had a flair for design but she didn't realize she could make a career out of it until the time she asked an artisan to craft a pair of earrings she'd drawn.

"My friends all loved them," recalls the Rwandan designer. "So friends started placing orders, and then friends of friends -- so it's gradually evolved through the years from a hobby to an actual full time business."

That business is Inzuki Designs, the startup Isibo launched in 2010 after deciding to quit her land management job to embark on her entrepreneurial journey. Fusing traditional craftsmanship with contemporary bold designs, the Africa-inspired fashion brand quickly had people buzzing.

Rwanda has so much potential in terms of the traditional craftsmanship skills.
Teta Isibo, Inzuki Designs founder

"Inzuki means bees," says Isibo, explaining the inspiration behind the company's name. "It's an attitude, like a sweet but fierce attitude; the way bees give honey so they have that sweet aspect, but then you can't really mess with them because they would sting you."

Read this: Luxury shoes put sparkle in your step

What started with one pair of earrings has now become a growing business that specializes in handmade jewelry, accessories and interior d├ęcor. Its colorful and vibrant products are made with local raw materials by various cooperatives in and around the Rwandan capital of Kigali.

"Rwanda has so much potential in terms of the traditional craftsmanship skills, in terms of the raw materials you can find here," says the young entrepreneur, "but I felt that we weren't really living up to that potential.

"Everything you'd find on the market was ...very touristy stuff and I wanted to create something that Rwandans as well would love to wear, [something they] would love to say 'this was made in Rwanda.'"

Check out the video below to find out more about Inzuki Designs and click through the gallery above to see some of Isibo's creations.

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Rwandan entrepreneur Teta Isibo is the owner of Inzuki Designs, a fashion brand which specializes in handmade jewelry and accessories.
See the full coverage of CNN's African Start-Up -- the show that follows entrepreneurs across the continent making their dreams become reality.
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