SIR JAY

If you call yourself Sir (something) you better look the part. From dressing a Stephano Ricci diamond plated tie to an elegant gold wristed watch that has a heavier ego than all the new found IT cum hacking gurus and crop of wannabe lawyers trying too hard to impress on social media,..you rather be rocking a genuine burnished toe, pair of shoes. Note genuine. Boy, besides, you should never develop the guts to text me out of the woods for a soft loan that will be refunded in 48 hours. I’ll consider it highly offensive and a dire disservice to your name. And by the way, you better be dating a Taita lady and not one of those slay lasses who bombard our timelines with fruit updates and in high heels taller than their ethics. Aaah and; I prefer you be an exceptional public speaker. I mean, how would you introduce yourself as Sir Charles, with a voice that has esteem issues? Something else, you can never afford to be self-absorbed with such a coveted name. And self-absorbed includes dangling with your car keys in boardroom meetings or in those local hotels where you make the rest of us drool at your lonely success ladder like we were made from a different cut.

And, you must be an alpha male; domineering in every polite manner. Sophisticated too and sort of mysterious. Your financial freedom must evoke jealous in all corners of our taste buds. Your phone must be always engaged, striking deals on one end or quietly tossing to expensive champagnes with your boys in hotels that have rooftops. The thing is, we must struggle to keep up with your moves. Moreover, you must be a bigwig outside of social media and your presence should only be commanding if not more. However, you shouldn’t be carried away by that hype, humility must be seen and felt at your every utter. Before I forget, you must give a run to Ezra Chiloba for his fame, at least according to the ladies.

That aside, meet Sir Jay, a contemporary fashion designer, model and largely positive minded young person. You’ll assume he is reserved until you hear him speak. A combination of intellectualism, humility, buzzing optimism and visionary attitude are elements that comfortably suit him. An American height guy, overly tasteful when it comes to fashion and unapologetically metrosexual as you’ll tell from his urbanite demeanor. He stands tall on everything boy child, from mentoring to giving back. Sir Jay, is a marketing genius too and brainchild to the coveted brand – Sir Jay Suits. I met him for the first time in a forum organized last year, for Nanyuki male professionals whose objective was to shed light, empower men in us and provide solutions to the struggling boy child phenomenal. That being last year, we’ve kept tabs and recently had a Tet a Tet with him when I saw the need to feature him in my new series of exposing young people with compelling stories that can be used to mentor and inspire the rest of us.

So, grab a seat as we unravel and make sense to this smell of inspiration.

When I quizzed Sir Jay about where he grew up and how it was like, his grandma name kept resurfacing in his brief responses. His childhood was hugely dominated by his shush and thanks to her, here is a guy who attributes his life principles to have been carved from that shrewd and tough upbringing. Shrewd because grandmas back then (Not millennial shushus) didn’t entertain nonsense while bringing up their grandchildren. They were discipline masters in as much as they were tender and loving. And how was it like, in those early days of Sir Jay life?

He used to collect firewood, feed the goats and chicken and later, stroll downstream to fetch water. Thanks to the fact that, back then rivers would flow freely, unpolluted and full of life unlike the days of our Lord today, where a stream of water is not only seasonal but heavily polluted in its short span of life by our selfish acts and baggage. Why is it that grandmas are extremely passionate when it comes to taking care of their livestock? A case in point, my grandma would rather sleep hungry but ensure her goats and cows have enough supply of dairy meal and Maclik salt. She will also ensure any regular guest at her home assists in cutting some stinging nettle around her house which she puts in a big sufuria and boils the greens and later feeds them to her dear cows. You should see her cows fighting for the cooked stinging nettle, it’s like pizza to the city slay queens. You know that happy face while one takes something delicious. For men, it should be Nyama choma at Tums in Giakaja because beer is certainly not tasteful.

Sir Jay changed schools so often both at Primary and High school level. To be exact, he was in six different schools between primary through secondary school. But why? Lack of funds featured prominently in his childhood hence why apart from changing schools due to lack of school fees, was brought up by his grandma back in Muruguru, Nyeri County. Interestingly, he always emerged the cleanest boy in high school and at some point, he became the school captain due to his neatness. Arguably, almost a decade after, he has still kept this self-made ethos. In addition, he was very sporty in high school unlike me. I tried basketball but my height became the undoing. Tried football, but every lad played football and it became too competitive and congested. Attempted hockey, barely succeeded since it was too crafty. Moved to rugby but couldn’t risk my ribs. Left with no option, I gave up. But on a brighter note, I was very passionate about Art stuff hence resulting to joining Drama club, music club and predictably – Debate Club. At Form 3, I was elected the President of Debate Club. Did I love debating and gathering points for motions, oooh boy! So, back to Sir Jay; he played Football, Handball, Rugby, was in Athletics as well, Triple and Long Jump too.

He joined Nairobi Aviation for his Diploma in Mass Communication but before securing a chance, he was a casual laborer in construction sites in Nanyuki. After seven or so months of carrying heavy loads and moving around in dusty clothes without any protection gear but armed with an optimistic mindset, he juggled from one construction site to another. He built his life a brick at a time but would later move to Nairobi where he switched gears to hawking. Yes, you should remember spotting him along the streets selling everything from flash disks, scratch cards, memory cards, disks and so forth. Hoping he was not a nuisance hawker like what the celebrated Wanja Kavengi writes on Facebook. By the way, have you stumbled on her brilliant writing?

Anyway, Sir Jay was desperate to survive and raise funds for his college fees, hence why he did anything rational to steer his life forward. Incidentally, at college, he participated in a beauty pageant contest for Mr. & Miss. Aviation 2013-14. Guess what? He won! On that very minute, an eggshell was broken and a dream was validly born. Modelling became part and parcel of Sir Jay life and one of his several streams of income. After his breakthrough at Aviation, Sir Jay contested in many other pageants scooping awards left, right and center just to name a few;  Mr. & Miss Mountain Mall and Mr. World Kenya – Laikipia County where he easily won. He also strutted on many runways for instance; Kenya Fashion Week, Festivals for African Fashion and Arts (FAFA), Swahili Fashion Week, French Embassy Fashion for Charity and would later join commercial modelling. While at commercial modelling, Sir Jay featured as a cast in Safaricom ads, Guiness Made of Black, and as the main cast in Blue Moon Vodka, Crown Paints and Fresh chewing gum. He has also been involved in other adverts as a semi-featured cast like in Orange Kenya ad.

Early last year, he took a break from modelling stuff to concentrate on his other brainchild – Sir Jay suits which is a clothing line that features mainly signature suits made for the contemporary man and woman. I asked Sir Jay if he is a tailor or a designer and what’s the difference. “I’m a designer. I design, cut the fabric then the tailor does the rest. For handmade bespoke suits, I do it in tandem with my tailor.” What’s bespoke? Forgive my native upbringing where words like bespoke- suits are vocabulary names I should have used in my English composition. What a loss! “Not to worry, bespoke is a name used to describe suits that are made from scratch by the tailor, customized or rather fairly adjusted to meet a client’s typical measurements and specifications. Normally, the rest are suits designed from standard measurements. ” He points out.

Apart from suits which other products are offered under Sir Jay suits?

“We do office and wedding suits and smart casual attires. We also sell gowns as well. Just recently, we launched a new product called Sir-Jay-Lust-List which encompasses female and male inner wears from lingerie to boxers.”

You recently had an incredible event at a Nairobi hotel?

“Yes, we were launching Sir Jay Lust list as I have just mentioned. It was an invite-only event where I lined up models showcasing my latest products in the offing. There was a lot to learn for my team and me as a person about organizing events. All I can say for now is that Kenya should watch out for the next event from Sir Jay Suits because we are bringing Paris to Nairobi!”

What was the objective of the event?

“To basically broaden my brand and launch Sir Jay Lust List officially to the consumers.”

Where are you based?

“My shop is in Nairobi but also hold a very aggressive promotion on social media.” By the way, check out his Facebook page – Sir Jay Suits.

Tell me more about your clientele base

“I have clients in Canada, Frankfurt Germany, Australia, Doha – Qatar and locally in Kakamega, Kisumu and Mombasa. They are scattered all over the place.”

Where did you acquire your tailoring skills?

“Downtown Nairobi. Different tailors taught me different skills regarding cutting the fabric and designing. YouTube too has helped me greatly on my researches.”

To what extent is talent important towards one achieving his success vis a vis hard work and street smartness

“You can never wish away talent. It’s very important but again there are ethics that ride with it like integrity, honesty, patience and persistence.”

Do you visit the gym?

“Once in a while. I prefer body fitness exercises rather than building muscles.”

Where did you collect the name, Sir Jay?

“I have always been the center of attention when it comes to dressing. I got the name Sir from the streets out of respect for my style.”

Married or dating

“Dating.”

You are very passionate about the boy child.

“Extremely passionate. I have been involved in many mentorship programs attributed to the boy child. Most of these young men lose hope in life for lack of mentors. It’s my urge to every male professional to find time and mentor the young boys around them. If we all do our part, the society will have moved a step ahead in narrowing the gap between girl-boy empowerment.”

For a fact, there is a lot of imbalance in empowerment in this country. It’s time we narrowed the lenses to the very aggrieved boy child without doing any harm to the girl child who has had a fair progress. How do we strike the balance, sir?

“If we leave one part of the gender behind, we will be inviting self-defeat and danger ahead. In other words, we will be running in circus by pulling one side up and going for the other, only to find the side that was earlier on pulled up, disgruntled as we changed attention to the other.”

Basically, what you are suggesting is; we accord the boy child the attention he deserves and while doing so, not lose track of the girl child. Which specific campaigns have you participated in regard of the boy child?

“I have been involved in mentorship programs in rural schools for instance; Inooro Secondary School and Waguthiru Primary in Laikipia County. In addition, I have participated in programs in Nanyuki Children’s home, One More Day and Youth Entrepreneurship Summit. I also participate in street campaigns by Inua Society Initiative where we mentor street kids in Nairobi.  Similarly, I have been involved in Chapati Forum which again serves the less fortunate kids by mentoring and counselling them.”

We leave it on that note as I let Sir Jay catch a flight to Kampala for more business. Cheers, Sir Jay!

 

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WHICH WAY OUT: FEW OR MORE KIDS

Image result for A photo of a beautiful african family

Early April this year, my family and I embarked on a trip to visit my Shosh, up in the hills of Othaya. A green desert of tea farms, and dwindling coffee plantation, up and down we were, taking sharp corners underneath unbothered deadly rivers making their way to distant lands. Othaya, a very fresh environment courtesy of the unrivalled abundance of rare indigenous trees, tall and gigantic, placed on top of hills and down south along the slopes, bending and singing smoothly – what a purified air! And this journey is never enough without passing by Tums. Well Tums is a small getaway, sandwiched by weather roads, red in colour and inside a sleepy village called Giakaja. Here, the best of kuku and mbuzi choma invites you from the parking bay, and soon you spot the busiest of waiters speeding like rally cars, balancing their trays with the dozens of orders playing in their heads. Tums being a gazebo-like layout, the laughters from happy people enjoying every bite of the meat and ambience waft easily all across. Normally, Nairobians who live for discovering hide outs, will be found here on a Saturday afternoon, flanked by their glossy wives, and their beguiling looking, smooth skinned girlfriends with sweeping elegant weaves, and their boys in expensive pants while some will still insist on puttting on coloured shorts in the year of our lord 2017. Usually, their tables will be dotted with Tuskers and silver-like melting meat. They will smoke arrogantly, speak louder, laugh more and ask for more beer and choma.

Now, we make our way to Shosh’s place, eat, drink, chat and then by coincidence happen to meet a number of my cousins who have also checked in for other engagements here. So, as the evening gets weary, one cousin rises to give vote of thanks but sneaks in an interesting conversation. That as cousins, they are considering awarding whichever family that will reach the target of having at least five kids. Currently the top contenders which is a tie of a few, has four kids each. Actually they are three families out of thirty something. SADLY, SHOSHO PASSED ON RECENTLY AND IN FACT LAID HER TO REST ON 16TH JUNE 2017. Rest in eternal peace dear pillar of my heritage.

Moving on…Our generation is breeding far fewer kids. Two utmost. Three if one is damn rich. Some one. Well the commonest reason being the “harsh economic times”. Quite logical. I mean how and why should one agonise over raising more kids when Unga is neither affordable nor available. When you can’t place food on the table, why more? Dear Andreaders, can our economy encourage contemporary parents to get more or few?

Well, I sampled a few of my friends asking them: Given a choice considering the status of our economy, would you go few or more kids? Kindly give reasons. Only one out of twelve respondents was for four to five kids regardless of the economic status. Three respondents were for very few kids. The rest had no clear answers. Simply put, they were nor here nor there. Just a bit confused. Sometimes back, my siblings and I visited mum by surprise. She was extremely happy and sensational. One thing I fondly remember her saying was; “Assuming I had one or two kids, would I be this happy?” You can imagine a family of slightly many siblings , armed with their spouses and curious teenage-like kids, and few more delicate and restless ones less than a year old, who can cry all night. We were scattered in one house, unbowed by the crying ones annoyed by the new environment they were not used to and the laughters and dealing with not-so-familiar faces plus the undoing of low temperatures of Nyandarua. Kids can be sensitive? My mum now savouring the beauty of watching her grandchildren whirl up and down while the shy ones sat attentively as they gazed at the hearty conversations. The shy ones in this instance had to be the teenagers getting acquainted to adolescence stage of life.

While working on this article, I stumbled on a research report named, Kenya: The Demographic of a Country in Turmoil which gives a chronology of Kenya’s population. Digging in, between 1970s and 1980s Kenya had one of the fastest population growth rates in the world. It experienced an economy slow down thereafter, which prompted the government to advocate for family planning to lower fertility rates. In 1960’s an average family would have 8 – 10 kids. As of 1990’s, that dropped to about five kids. With the AIDS epidemic which eroded health and mortality progress, Kenya has had to review life expectancy from an average of 60 years in 1980s to 53 in 2007.

But while the poor are having more kids, the middle class are siring few! Seemingly, the former are putting up with a fight of survival while the latter are toying with pro-westernized ideologies where getting more kids is no longer fashionable and worse still – very demanding and expensive, so to speak. But demographic pundits have it; that with an effective government and stable economic environment, population increase leads to steady economic growth.

The worry is, many alike, in our classes of life are bringing up fewer and lonelier families. Where, a couple gets two kids, educates them and by the time these children join University at about 19 years, the parents being anywhere from 45 – 51 years, are left to live alone while the kids run to Nairobi. These are the same kids who never get married nor visit home. So the closest these parents get to meet their grandchildren, unfortunately, will be in their sorry state – feeble and draining their family savings to medical bills besides dealing with two kids who haven’t stabilized in life. Forgive me for entertaining the thought that, there is fun in more numbers.

Thinking rationally, clear advantages of having relatively more kids include; Family projects become easier and attractable to finance based on the numbers, the few less-fortunate in life get pulled up by the rest of the siblings, the diversity of careers and lines of incomes brought about by different interests for each sibling increases chances of survival, such a family has a bulk of knowledge and forum to exchange ideas and increase business networks. Moreover, economies of scale have never been more plausible than in families – Utility bills are far cheaper in a house of more, than of few. Clothes and toys can be passed on to the younger ones. Parents who are pro-more can be in a position to enjoy freedom earlier since the teenage kids can be left to guard the little ones as they attend a dinner date, or rush for urgent issues out of the house, and can be caught up in traffic without worry of house girl drama.

Medical researchers have disclosed that growing up with a brother or sister can reduce food allergies, multiple sclerosis and some cancers. Obesity and depression is potentially reduced by exposure to more siblings. Parents with one or two kids, spend lots of money in Day-cares while the pro-more can have that aspect taken care of easily. Research have shown that ‘siblinged’ children will have stronger soft skills and keener emotional intelligence than single children. In most cases, siblings make up the best of friends. Mistakes and confessions are first told to close siblings meaning a good support system can be nurtured within siblings. Further, one or two kids can choke from over attention and pressure. Relatively more kids dilute the attention awarded to each kid hence aiding in making a child mature quicker.

Few or more, the jury is out.