BARBARA Asiimwe has always had a passion for fashion.

“My parents both made my clothes as a young girl which is where I got my love of fashion,” she explains.

A native of Rwanda, located in East-central Africa, studying brought Barbara to Bradford 16 years ago.

Her intention was to undertake a higher education degree in business and her master degree in international business.

Since completing her studies, Barbara who is involved in administration for Bradford University, is busy developing Isaro Collections - the fashion brand she set up in Bradford in 2015 with support from the university and UnLtd, described as ‘a leading provider of support to social entrepreneurs in the UK.’

The idea behind creating Isaro came when Barbara began selling decorative items weaved and stitched by women in her native Rwanda.

Eager to help the women earn a living, she explains how she began hosting tea parties at her home to sell the women’s creations.

Not only did it help them to earn a living, it also introduced their talents to a new and wider audience.

Hosting the events also brought Barbara in contact with emerging designers here in Bradford who are busily contributing to the Isaro clothing collection.

Barbara explains the collection takes its name from the Rwandan name for pearls.

“Back in the day the Rwandan women used to collect them from the sea showers, gather them and make beautiful jewellery out of them,” she says.

Isaro Collections retails high quality clothes and accessories created by individual designers in local communities offering a fair and affordable price for the maker and customer.

“Through local connections I recognised a need and real talent of people of Bradford from the City’s heritage of Textile and industries, and from its multi-cultural background,” explains Barbara.

“This, of course, coupled with my love for people, fashion and learned business as a discipline. I wanted to do something not only to earn a living but to make a difference in the community I live in.”

Isaro is based on two key elements: Isaro Collections Retail and Isaro Collections Charitable Foundation. The business focuses on the 3 Es: Enable, Empower, Engage. Values aiming to develop confidence, independence and skills for the designers and young entrepreneurs in fashion and design.

Isaro collaborates with a range of local designers and is a collection of many individuals work who create an extensive range of garments from bridal and occasionwear commissions to casualwear.

“I work with women especially from their homes sewing and others that are more established and have their own platforms,” explains Barbara.

“I believe fashion as an art is a social science. Fashion is essential part of everyone’s life. You understand people’s personalities, values, cultures and backgrounds through what they wear.”

The latest styles from the Isaro Collection will be showcased on the catwalk at a charity fashion show for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal in Bradford on Saturday May 12.

Among the outfits will be Asian, African and Western clothing, bridalwear and casualwear including t-shirts, trousers and jackets.

Other designers involved in the fashion show include Loulas Boutique, Bo Carter, Laurelle Woman, Pleat-boutique and several others.

Fashion retailers from The Broadway, Bradford, will join the judging panel to select the Emerging Designer Winner of the Year 2018.

The event also aims to encourage partnerships between emerging and established talent across Bradford and district.

Barbara is keen to support local charities in this year’s Lord Mayor’s Appeal which is raising funds for the Bradford charities The Down Syndrome Training and Support Services based in the Pamela Sunter Centre, Bingley and Wishing Well Appeal.

The Down Syndrome Training and Support Services supports children and young people with Down Syndrome and their families and the professionals working with them. The Wishing Well Appeal provides small grants for organisations and smaller groups across the Bradford District enabling them to put the money towards their projects

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