AFRIKA, DESIGN! ep.1: Esther Kute

Esther Kute was the youngest, first Kenyan, first female, first black designer to be appointed Product Development Manager for Bata Kenya in charge of Design (footwear and accessories), also making her the youngest member of the senior management team in the organization at the time.

She achieved all this after working in the company for only 6 years and just 8 years after graduating from the University of Nairobi with a BA (Hons) in Design.

Topics covered include:

  • Esther’s graduation project Esther on being the first to hold her position at Bata, and what changes she wanted brought.

  • Working with men, promotions and standing for good design.

  • Bata Designers Apprentice & Bata Young Designers.

  • Esther on facing your fears, skydiving and taking big opportunities.

  • On looking up to people like Osborne Macharia, living how we want & making a change: “let’s stop being luke-warm designers”.

  • On hard work, respect and building a reputation.

  • Advice she received on experience & money from fashion mentor Ann McCreath years ago.

Blue and purple pattern with Afrika Design writing

"Let's stop being lukewarm designers."



ESTHER’S 3 TIPS FOR DESIGNERS, CREATIVES AND LIFE: (1)“Practice overcoming your fears, and your life becomes much fuller” (2)“If you promise a project in 2 weeks, do it in one. Underpromise, overdeliver.” “Without excuses, without flaking on people. (3)"Treat yourself as a business"

Esther Kute is a keynote speaker and award winning Design professional with 13+ years experience in fashion, textile, footwear, accessories, product and industrial Design.

She has overseen product development in midlevel management, senior management and consultant positions with Kenyan and global Design and Manufacturing organizations.

Products she has designed are sold globally, have featured in New York fashion week, Vogue magazine and other media, and are creating millions of US dollars in turnover.

Esther has a Masters of Arts in Design, and Footwear Design training from Italian ARSUTORIA School – Shoe and Bag Design University.

Esther Kute is a Design educator and mentor having worked as a part time lecturer, teaching assistant, founder of Bata Designers Apprentice 2017-2018 and mentor of Bata Young Designers Challenge 2019.

Esther is at the intersection of business for profit and business for the common good.

The kind of business she would like be part of, whether as a manager, CEO or founder, is focused on making human centered products that improve lives and are sustainable, with employee centric policies that provide a conducive work environment.


You can find Esther on @estherkute on twitter. Recorded 2019.


🎶Outro: DINNER by the talented @SheyLofi 



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