Fast forward to my journey to the United States of America, a country known as a place where dreams are realized in the world of fashion, film, entertainment, technology – basically any field of interest. I was a fashion student and a participant in two public assistance programs, GAIN and CalWORKs. I graduated from college receiving the President's and Dean's Honor Awards for outstanding academic achievement; and was nominated for the best fashion designer in the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD), in addition to winning the first-place spot in a California Mart Competition. In my final college semester, I applied for Project Runway and got qualified for a last callback; after which I went on to work for well-known high-end fashion designers, such as Mattison, and Mark Zunino, who is known for his lavish extravagant costumes and big shoulders jackets and dresses in the 1980s drama Dynasty. In addition to the above, my work has been featured in several fashion magazines – and I have to say I am in awe of my accomplishments.
However, the road to success is not always smooth, just like in my case. My journey to realizing my dream was not easy. I had to overcome some serious obstacles in life. The first time I knew my life was not going to be easy was the night I looked for a place to lay my head and found shelter inside a cardboard box. When I came to Los Angeles from Kampala, Uganda, I was homeless and as mentioned, I needed a place to sleep and lived in a box in Downtown LA, each night hoping to survive and worrying about what would happen overnight into the next day. I upgraded to a transient home for drug and alcohol abusers, even though I was neither one. I shared my room with two old cats, an old dog, a snake, two birds, two ladies and a transgender in exchange for my service to work as a cleaning lady of the buildings. I moved a few more times depending on where the life took me and had to work other menial jobs. Eventually, I learned about public assistance and support services provided through community colleges. I went back to school and furthered developing my talents, and enrolled in CalWorks at LATTC. This was just a beginning of my life as a designer in this new world.
When I was young in my country, society tried to groom me to just be a good wife who is to be behind the kitchen door, but my mother was a different kind of woman. In her house, she brought us up breaking away from the norm and teaching us that girls can be builders and boys can be cooks. Unfortunately, when we the girls stepped out of our home, our country would not condone the idea of doing the work they set aside for the men. We were reminded of the unbalance that lurks between the males and females because society told us that we were not supposed to live the way our mother encouraged. But now living in this new world called America, I was shown the same things and lessons my mother had passed down to me; but this time, the pace was faster and any turn I made, I found a wall that had to be pushed back or broken down. Now, they say that fairy godmothers or fathers are not real but in my case, a fairy god-friend was real and helped push my dream to the forefront. A day came when I was told that I was to present a line of twenty looks at the ‘Ebony Fashion Fair,’ but I did not have the fabrics to create the collection I wanted to show. I had decided to design the pieces out of garbage bags but before I proceeded to do so, I contacted a friend, who invited me to stop by and get any material I needed. At that moment I felt like a kid going into my favorite candy store because all his materials were from Italy…I could not wait| With his assistance, my fashion line ‘YukiMuli Couture’ and was born. It is a line that is inspired by life that is compounded with love, empowerment, the binding chains and racially charged issues experienced. My story goes beyond a page long but the little I have shared; I hope sheds light to why I am who I am. We know that life is time and time is life, some of us wear our time so expensively than others. While some of us we put time to work or push time so close to the edge, there are some of us who want to sit and wait. However, remember that as time goes by you will not catch up to it; and so no matter how hard life is, you can still paint your dreams, when you are given a chance – as I got my second chance when I moved to the United States of America by getting an education and a support system. They both fostered my talents and gave me the tools and skills to be able to work in the fashion industry and with renowned fashion design houses where I create extravagant high-end looks. My love for rich creativity of culture, paintings, sculptures, eighteenth century architectural buildings and modern themes are just some of my reasons for pursuing this dream of mine. In addition to creating these looks that are displayed on runway shows and exhibitions, my love for art is showcased in my award winning paintings and sculptures that are in over thirty exhibitions in circulation. Encouraged by my successes and love for my country, I co-founded an organization called the ‘Kann Artisan Group’ with my siblings, to raise money for initiating art programs for the youths in Uganda – it is a program that has been welcomed with open arms back home. As I credit my own mother who is still in Uganda, for nurturing my creativity to shine in the diaspora, My persistence is enabled by my daughter who has inherited much of my artistic talents; being an award-winning animator. As I look at her, I see myself, my heart, my love, my dedication to live life to my greatest potential. She is who I am, and who I am will be a legacy that will be forever remembered.