Finding Your Purpose, the story behind creative brand ‘House of Kea’
by Patricia Opio
Design Hub Kampala has launched an initiative, Design Hustle in partnership with Mastercard Foundation and The Innovation Village with the aim to put the spotlight on creative entrepreneurs and their journey into entrepreneurship.
Our first feature is Keziah Ayikoru Tuhirwe, the CEO and founder of House of Kea, a fashion, spaces and stories brand based in Kampala that hopes to turn the creative industry on its head.
Well, let’s dive right in and learn more….
Keziah, tell us about yourself. Briefly introduce yourself and your company / what do you do?
I am a creative who, creates, teaches and builds in the various physical and online spaces that God leads me to. This is my purpose and I do this by creating spaces where I can use my gifts of creativity, design and writing. For example in Faces and Spaces – an online creative community, and also other spaces like International University of East Africa where I lectured and mentored architectural students. Through these platforms, I help writers tell their best stories so that people can create long lasting creations, be it fashion, design products or books. I am a limitless creative entrepreneur, an editor, architect, fashion designer. I am a lover of life, nature and beauty
House of Kea started in 2018 while I was still working as an architect. It was into fashion in the beginning, however last year we revamped it to where we now have three strategic anchors – Stories, Spaces and Fashion. I decided to build the company around what I could do naturally. I wanted it to be authentic and true to myself by having all of them under one business creating a multidisciplinary brand. For example:
- Spaces by Kea is about interior design and design products.
- Stories by Kea is about the writing and editing of books, as well as teaching people to write and edit.
- Fashion by Kea is about fashion and accessories with an afro-centric touch.
I also authored a book titled Thriving Creatives, where I help creatives change the narrative from struggling creative to thriving creative.
How has the journey/ride been in building your company or career?
The journey has been tough because along the way, there has been a lot of self-discovery. Your business can only grow as much as you the founder can so I had to learn from different places. I attended YALI – Young African Leadership Initiative, Creative Entrepreneurship by British Council and Harvest Institute Leadership School. Basically, any opportunity that allowed me to be a better person and leader so that my business could grow. In building a company, there were many things I needed to learn such as the legal and financial management because I entered as a creative who wanted to express herself but business is more than that. A lot of mind-shift happened which helped me embrace building a business as a career and making money. Being authentic and true to my art but doing it in a way that is relevant to the market. At the end of the day, as a creative, if no one buys your services or goods, you are left frustrated. It has been a journey of learning about the intersection between art and business.
What do you think has been the formula for your success? What is your secret? Do share with us.
I do not think there is a place where you arrive and say, “I am now successful”. However, my formula has been sticking to purpose. That has been my anchor. As a creative, there are so many ideas or directions a business can go but what has kept me anchored is my purpose. I am constantly asking myself questions like, “What is my purpose and the purpose of my business?” So, I chose the three things which was stories, fashion and spaces that I saw I could consistently build my life around and I aligned my business to that, namely: knowing the purpose God created me for as earlier mentioned and the purpose of my business in providing quality and innovative products in fashion, design and publishing. I always make sure these are aligned by having yearly reflections to see where the business is at.
What do you think holds back creatives/entrepreneurs in the industry?
This may sound theoretical but I think it is a lack of identity or insufficient knowledge, identity and self-awareness. Many creatives struggle with accepting who they are, especially who they are as a creative and what they do. So, they fail to sell what they are. If you don’t believe in who you are and what you do, you cannot sell. There are people who have just one thing and they really fly with it. For example, Trevor Noah said all he wanted to do was make people laugh. He is doing it and opportunity followed him yet someone else may have the same desire but because they don’t believe making someone laugh is of importance, they would not sell it. Knowing your identity, who you are and what you do is important. I have seen this in my own journey as well as others.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to break through. How did you overcome this obstacle?
Well, the biggest I would say is in relation to being a multi-passionate. When you are a multi-passionate, you see a world of exploration and possibilities whilst people see confusion. I am also a poet and musician so I saw a place for poetry and music integration in my business, yet people kept asking me, “What do you want to do? Choose a lane!” I struggled to get validation from people to the point where I had to get coaching, and I told my coach, “I think people think I am confused”. He then asked, “But are you comfortable with yourself? Yes, other people see confusion but what do you see?” I realized I had allowed myself to see myself through other people’s lenses and had started to believe them and it affected my work because I needed to identify myself with that one title for example doctor or engineer. I had to realise that the validation had to come from me so it has been a journey of getting comfortable in my identity and the journey of self-discovery.
How do you motivate yourself to keep going even when things are tough?
I have two affirmations/declarations that I go back to. One is based on my identity in God and another on my purpose as an individual. So, when I feel like I am going off track, I will read it out aloud and many times when I am in a season of confusion, I always find something to uplift me. It reaffirms who I am and what I am doing.
I’ll also seek out a new opportunity. Go and have a conversation with someone or seek resources. For example, I was struggling with planning and someone provided me the resource she had gotten online. Sharing where I am at with others keeps me going.
I also watch videos or series I like. If I am looking for motivation in the area of interior design, I’ll get a tv series about interior design that gets me inspired and excited and this energizes me, making me seeing different perspectives.
It’s 2026, I turn on the TV and there you are being interviewed, what are they saying about you and your business/brand?
They are saying House of Kea is creative and reliable. We have excellence in all that we do. It is a world of creativity. We pay attention to detail. They will also be talking about the different products and services we would have launched. We would have helped 100 writers get their book published. We would have ready to wear collection at affordable prices. The interviewer would definitely be wearing our brand. (She laughs out loud here). The business has helped add beauty to their spaces. The brand will be distinct where people will know the brand. The different anchors would be able to stand alone but also together where they can see the intersections of stories, fashion and spaces. They will be saying that I mentored thousands of creatives to live a profitable and creative lifestyle.
There you have it folks. Keziah Ayikoru Tuhirwe of House of Kea. I hope you are looking forward to seeing where this story will go. Stay tuned!!