Every year at Griffith College, there are a few students on campus that everybody just knows. Kuda Manase is one of those people. He walks around the college shaking hands and greeting people like a presidential candidate. His bubbly and contagious personality means that he’s never going to blend into the crowd.
A third-year Law student here at Griffith College, Kuda is one of a passionate crew of Zimbabwe students studying here at Griffith. As well as studying for his degree, Kuda has also started a fashion line - Junk Merch - which you will see on many students around the campus. Like Kuda, customers of Junk Merch aren’t really big fans of blending into the crowd.
Junk Merch is a collaboration between Kuda and a friend of his - Tino - a college student in Miami. “The reason we started Junk was because we wanted to bring diversity to the fashion world,” explains Kuda. “We want to make Junk the coolest thing in fashion through the power of colour.
“We wanted to start a clothing line so we went on the net and just started bouncing a few ideas around. We had a few ideas about the name at the start but they were a bit corny. But once we came up with the name ‘Junk’ it really just stuck with us.”
A great environment to start a business
Kuda says that he has taken inspiration from his time at Griffith College to burst onto the fashion scene. “Griffith College has been a great environment for me to study and start a business,” says Kuda. “It has a nice relaxed environment and gives you the opportunity to be a free thinker and think out of the box. I am taught not only to think about my future but the future of people who I could impact. It really has taught me to think in a broader way.
“The Irish people are the most amazing and friendly people in the world. So when I tell people - including my lecturers and fellow students about the idea behind Junk - they are always really positive towards the idea and do whatever they can to help me along the way.”
Reaching out to influencers as part of the marketing strategy
The partnership between Kuda and his co-founder Tino is one that is working well. Both have differing passions - so there’s an even split of work.
“Myself and Tino work well together,” says Kuda. “I love motivating and have a passion for it. Tino has a passion for designing so we wanted to bring the two sides of that together.”
As well as concentrating on the fashion elements of Junk Merch, Kuda and Tino have worked hard on the marketing side of their business. Realising that the fashion industry is a hard one to break into - the two have decided to reach out to influencers around the world to spread the word about Junk.
Ali Sherlock is one of the Junk ambassadors - and is a figure that the teenage audience really resonate with. For those not in the know, Ali Sherlock is a 13-year old busker who rose to fame last year with her version of Ed Sheeran’s Supermarket Flowers has been viewed nearly two million times on Facebook and got her invited onto the Ellen show in the US (an invitation she turned down!).
Ali Sherlock is an amazing sensation,” says Kuda. “We looked at how we could turn that collaboration into something physical. And bang - that started up!”
Kuda says that the main objective for Junk Merch is to increase brand awareness by connecting with more and more influencers. Conor McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh is someone that’s on the wishlist as he too shares Kuda’s enthusiasm for motivational phrases.
“Our main objective is reaching out to as many influencers as possible. John Kavanagh is our next goal. We want to reach out to people who support and represent the very idea of ‘cool’. We are reaching out to celebrities in the US, South Africa and Ireland. I’m an international student so my outlook is always going to be worldwide.”
You can see what's on offer at Junk Merch by clicking here