I met Laura Nkondi and her cousin, Kendra, near the Shoprite supermarket, in Gombe, Kinshasa. The interview was conducted early February 2016.
Patrick Gaincko: Prior to shopping, do you use internet?
Laura Nkondi: Yes, I visit instagram mostly. I follow various shopping agents, especially one who travels to Belgium and returns to Kinshasa with orders made by customers. I also visit European online stores. It’s mostly for inspiration. I do my shopping here and there.
Patrick Gaincko: Precisely where do you go for shopping?
Laura Nkondi: It really depends. I change destinations a lot. Sometimes I order stuffs via my sisters who live in the UK. Sometimes I use shopping agents, even though they can be expensive and do limited discounts. There is a handful of multi-brand stores downtown, but price-wise, service-wise, they suck. I like public markets, like Le Marché Central: you can find real brands there, like H&M. You can bargain and get great deals.
Patrick Gaincko: So what’s your favourite destination for getting what you want, when you want it?
Laura Nkondi: I look for printed fabrics and styles on google, facebook, etc. Then either I draw a model or I choose a model, and I show it to the tailor. He then makes a dress, a skirt, a top, according to my instructions and ideas. I stick to this pattern for special occasions like the Women’s Day on March 8.
Tailors are really the best destination when it comes to dressing well. You can be demanding, you are guaranteed service and quality.
Patrick Gaincko: Are you loyal to a brand?
Laura Nkondi: I like Woodin. They do print fabrics, dresses, skirts, suits, etc. They have original ideas, extravagant looks. I can do lots of things with their prints. I also like to mix up styles and customize. I try to be as much original as possible.
Patrick Gaincko: What are your influences?
Laura Nkondi: I am pretty much my own influencer. Sometimes I need Kendra’s advice, she is my cousin and best friend. I am afraid of finding something cool when I see it but then having another impression with time passing.
I use my cellphone most of the time for getting inspiration, but I also find myself taking notes when watching European fashion TV programs.
Patrick Gaincko: How you spend your budget?
Laura Nkondi: First it’s clothing, then it’s make-up.