Alumni start-up featured on CNN
Though the store is located in Kigali, Rwanda, the idea for the business started on Palatine Hill.
“I had the idea for House of Tayo in August 2011,” Rugamba told CNN. “I had a summer job and just finished my second year [at Lewis & Clark]. Instead of using the money I made to pay for books, I decided I wanted to do something that was going to be longer lasting and would have a greater effect.”
Rugamba was born in the United Kingdom and spent time in Uganda, Kenya, and his mother’s native Rwanda. After arriving at Lewis & Clark, he wanted to change perceptions about his family’s homeland that had been shaped by the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s.
After a solo start, Rugamba entered Lewis & Clark’s venture competition with team members Wade Higgins BA ’13 and Anthony Ruiz BA ’13, and together they continued to develop the brand. Today, House of Tayo includes colorful bow ties and bold infinity scarves made from African textiles and fabrics produced by Rwandan tailors and artisans in Kigali.
So now that the new store is open, what’s next? Said Rugamba, “I definitely want to get into other markets—the U.S., U.K., Europe. I think my product will do very well.”
Read more about Matthew Rugamba and House of Tayo in the Chronicle article, Intelligent Design.