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Friday 30th of September 2022

Nairobi, Kenya

Teyei’s Couture: A Unique Nigerian Fashion Label Founded By Faith Teyei Afan

Teyei’s Couture is a unique Nigerian fashion label founded by Faith Teyei Afan. It focuses on creating unique and high-quality fashion items. She founded Teyei’s Couture to help women express themselves through fashion but she’s also empowering and educating upcoming fashion designers at her Fashion Academy.

Faith Teyei agreed to talk to our NFH Contributing writer Linda Wairegi to share more details about her inspiring fashion design journey and what other African designers can learn from her journey. 

 

LW: Can you tell me about yourself? 

FT: I am a Nigerian fashion designer, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Founder of Teyei’s Couture born and raised in Jos, Nigeria.

I completed my secondary education at the Girls’ High School Gindiri, Plateau State, where my interest in designing was first conceived. After secondary education, my drive for fashion increased, and I learnt how to sew for two years. 

My drive for designs grew astronomically higher when I started designing and sewing for myself, my siblings, and my close friends. In early 2016, I moved from sewing in my bedroom to an empty room in my family house, where I started my entrepreneurial adventure with two sewing machines. In the same month, about four ladies showed interest in wanting to learn under me, but only two eventually got enrolled. 

With the increase in demand for designs, ladies’ interest in wanting to learn, my passion to create high-quality African clothes, put my home city of Jos on the world fashion map, and to use fashion as a tool to change the world for a better tomorrow, I launched my label Teyei’s Couture. 

 

LW: When did you know that fashion was your passion in life?

FT: I got to understand that fashion is my passion when I discovered that even if I was tired, I’d still want to draw, design, and think of creative ideas. It became a big part of my life. Anytime I succeed with a design, I feel so happy and satisfied. 

 

LW: Who inspired you to start your fashion journey? 

FT: My inspiration comes from several people, but most especially my husband. He has been my strongest strength and supporter, pushing me right from the onset. He is not into fashion, but he opened my eyes a lot. 

 

LW: How long has Teyei’s Couture been open? 

FT: Teyei’s Couture will be 6 years this year. 

 

LW: Where is your fashion business Teyei’s Couture located? 

FT: Jos, Plateau State, and Abuja, both in Nigeria 

 

LW: What’s the mantra for Teyei’s Couture? 

FT: Believe in yourself, for there’s always this one multibillion-naira idea in you. 

LW: What’s your ideal customer? 

FT: I have fallen in love with creating designs for women who want to feel confident in who they are women who love to reinvent themselves, and women who love innovation. This set of people is my ideal customer.

 

LW: What’s your favourite fashion piece or pieces from Teyei’s Couture? 

FT: My favourite piece has always been the free gowns. I love comfort so everything I find myself comfortable in is always my best. That aside, I also love skirts and blouses made from Ankara or any native African print fabric. They make me appreciate the African woman in me. 

 

LW: Why do you love them so much? 

FT: I love them so much, especially the Ankara prints, because they make me come alive, feel fulfilled, and be proud of my African self. 

 

LW: What sets you apart from other African labels? 

FT: What set us apart from other fashion labels is that we are not just a brand aimed at producing unique and quality garments. We also run an academy that trains young African women in fashion and entrepreneurship, empowering them with the right skill sets, mentorship to build their confidence, networking opportunities, and access to African fashion-related information.

Our dedication to our students and clients is driven by our promise to deliver Excellence, Value, and Quality. We aim to be at the forefront of exploring the innovative path that combines fashion, education, and technology. 

LW: Have you encountered difficult moments in your fashion journey? 

FT: One of the most difficult parts of my journey has always been insufficient funds for the company. I struggle with the little at hand to see that I give my students a comfortable place to learn and provide an appealing place for my customers. 

We’re also challenged by an inadequate workforce, which is a result of a lack of resources. This has been a major setback as it has made us several times unable to take disadvantaged ladies on scholarship. 

In a nutshell, lack of funds has been a major challenge to me in the journey, and that has made us keep our doors open to anyone ready to bring more value to us. 

 

LW: What’s the best moment that made you feel alive as a fashion designer?

FT: There’s no greater joy compared to the immense joy and big smile from my customers.  

This is because I put myself wholeheartedly into each of my designs. Therefore, anytime I get complimentary reviews and comments, it makes me alive to know that at least my work is paying off. This always encourages and pushes me to do more. 

 

LW: I noticed that you also offer training to fashion students… So, can you tell us more about imparting and empowering the next fashion designers? 

FT: Teaching has always been my dream. It’s something I enjoy doing. As an entrepreneur empowering the next generation of fashion designers, therefore, I try as much as I can to provide special scholarships for young girls and disadvantaged women who are very passionate about learning fashion. Occasionally, I employ the best students to work with me for some time so that they get to learn the administrative aspect to aid them to have a better approach when they start their own business of fashion. 

LW: How do you balance the creative & the business side in fashion? 

FT: I’ve always seen these two as having a meeting point at the end of each of my thoughts because my creativity has a way of intertwining itself with business. 

One thing I usually say to my team is, “there’s always this one multibillion idea in you.” I always say to my team that as a brand and in our tradition, to apply creative thinking to business decisions and business shrewdness to our creative processes. 

 

LW: What’s one thing that you wish you knew before you started on your fashion journey? 

FT: I wished I knew that I could learn fashion with the little I had by simply watching videos on YouTube before learning the basics of sewing and pattern making. 

 

LW: What’s your dream collaboration? 

FT: My number one dream collaboration is to work with Hollywood to design costumes that portray an African woman in her native attire. 

 

LW: Recently, you launched a fashion webinar, what’s the inspiration behind this?

FT: Teyei’s Couture became the first fashion brand/academy in the whole of Northern Nigeria to organize a fashion webinar. It took place on December 11th, 2021. The webinar themed “Fashion as a Way of Communication” explored fashion as an important aspect of culture, forming part of the non-verbal aspect of communication and shaping relations in society. 

This was inspired by my desire to educate the public, especially my immediate community, about fashion and other fashion-related issues. I want to create a groundbreaking mindset that triggers ladies into embracing fashion as a tool to plunge them into their entrepreneurial journey and create awareness around it. We plan to make the webinar a series. 

 

LW: What’s your vision behind this? 

FT: My vision is to bring together speakers (women) from different walks of life to discuss fashion-related topics and trigger a change in mindset. 

LW: What’s your personal style like? 

FT: My personal style can be described as simple but classic. I love wearing easy clothes to be able to move around comfortably. I also love clothes that don’t go out of time easily. 

 

LW: Do you have an inspiring quote for other designers?

FT: When you have a dream do not let it die. Keep watering it and nurturing it until it grows, and the results will be amazing. Never let your passion go away because of life challenges. Keep the light burning, having it at the back of your mind that one day it will all pay off.

 

LW: We’d love to connect with Teyei’s Couture online. Can you share the links with us?

Website: https://www.teyeiscouture.com 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/teyeiscouture 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TeyeisCouture 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TeyeisCouture 

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/teyeiscouture 

Tumblr: https://teyeiscouture.tumblr.com 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/teyeiscouture 

 

United States Of America Consulate Honours 20 Nigerian Fashion Designers

The United States Consul-General, Claire Pierangelo, played the perfect host when the Public Affairs Section of the Consulate General in Lagos organized a reception in honor of 20 emerging and mid-career Nigerian fashion designers who recently participated in the US State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Programme (IVLP). Funke Olaode captures the exciting moment

The atmosphere inside the expansive compound of the United States Consul-General’s residence situated in the highbrow area of Ikoyi, Lagos on Tuesday, September 28, 2021, was colorful and relaxing. From the colorful display by the 20 emerging and mid-career fashion designers, who participated in the International Visitors Leadership Programme, organized by the Consulate, it was evident that the evening was not an ordinary one. It was one marked with outstanding creativity and awards of excellence.

After intense three-week training, the participants were hosted to a beautiful reception by Pierangelo. In attendance were leading Nigerian fashion designers, creative industry leaders, and investors. Among the dignitaries were Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy, Kathleen FitzGiboon, Nigerian pioneer in fashion designing, Shade Thomas-Fahm, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, and billionaire businesswoman, Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija.

IVLP, a three-week program with participants drawn from different parts of Nigeria is a collaboration between Nigeria and the United States. This year’s IVLP project titled, ‘Promoting Economic Growth and Trade in the Fashion Industry’, was unique for the opportunity it availed the participants to connect with their US counterparts and enriched their knowledge of entrepreneurship, business development, and innovation in the US fashion industry.

Pierangelo, while thanking her guests for honoring the invitation, highlighted the US government’s commitment to promoting economic growth and trade in the fashion industry, by empowering local fashion designers to not only thrive in Nigeria’s fashion industry but also to prepare for the global fashion marketplace.

According to the diplomat, this year’s program was done virtually but the process has trained thousands of participants over the years.
“This year’s participants were awesome. I am pleased with their creativity, energy, and enthusiasm. I know that they have learned the skills that will help their business grow. I know we have amazing designers who are set to rule the fashion industry. The United States created this program to strengthen economic growth in Nigeria, being the heartbeat of Africa. And with Nigerian artistes winning Grammy Awards, it shows that indeed the country is beating the heart of Africa even in entertainment.”

Speaking further, she said the purpose of the program is to help connect all the creativity of Nigerian designers to their American counterparts, not only to expose them but to use the opportunity and what they have learned during the program to grow their business. “The feedback we got was impressive; their energy and enthusiasm was amazing and I hope they will keep the tempo going,” she added.

Praising the Consulate for giving her the opportunity of a lifetime, one of the participants, Abiola Adeola of Treasure Stitches said she got to know about the program through the First Lady of Ekiti State, Mrs. Bisi Fayemi who nominated her. “The experience was good because we were exposed to the business side of fashion on how we can showcase and market our products to the international community. How we can attract investors. I am based in Ekiti and I am able to showcase our indigenous fabrics (aso-oke) which are woven locally in Ekiti State. Before now, aso-oke was occasional wear that was restricted to either funerals or weddings. To keep it trendy and make it everyday wear, I mix it with Ankara. The three-week training was an amazing experience because it boosted my confidence and opened my eyes to the international world.”

Corroborating Adeola, Peter Emealih of Rockdart, a Youtuber who teaches people for free and equally promotes African fabrics online said through IVLP his effort has paid off. I was recommended for the program. I do everything fabrics but with a mixture of African prints. Basically, the training helped me want to serve humanity in the fashion industry more.

“My takeaway was that I was exposed to other people and what they were doing. This broadened my horizon and knowledge and having access to the American market is awesome. On the economy side, we went to AGOA where they helped us to know the value of what we are doing as our wears can be readily available for export which in turn will increase the GDP.”

Bolupe Adebiyi, Founder of Cotton Loops who has been in the business for 15 years and has visited America several times said IVLP was a life changer as it has given her access to the international market. “The training, the strategy on how to market, and leveraging on the opportunity was superb. I use locally made materials such as hemp fabrics, batik, cotton mostly organic, tie and dye, and recently recycled denim for my designs. For me, my goal is to be number one and this program has shown me that it is possible.”

Speaking on behalf of other participants, President, lVLP Alumni Association (AA) Adetoun Tade expressed her gratitude to the American Consulate for the life-changing experience. Adetoun said IVLP is an expression of diversity: climate, fashion, creativity, and so on. “For us, the expectation goes beyond three weeks of training. It means when you enjoy such benefits you must give back. Again, the expectation is to bring African fashion to the global stage in a compelling way. And we are set to rule the fashion industry globally,” she concluded.

Content courtesy of This Day Live 

Stockholm Fashion Week Spring 2022, Aajiya Designer Maimuna Cole Is Dreaming Big

Among the most striking looks to appear at Copenhagen, Fashion Week were cowrie-print separates from Aajiya, a Stockholm-based brand founded by Maimuna Cole. Born in Sweden with Gambian roots, Cole says she’s designing with a higher purpose (or two or three).

She’d like to raise the profile of Africans in fashion and hopes to contribute to the infrastructure of West Africa by moving her business there at some point. In the meantime, she’s busy building her own universe and filling it with colorful prints and romantic openwork dresses that are attracting a growing fan base that includes Seinabo Sey, Sabina Ddumba, and Gabrielle Union.

Here, Cole talks to Vogue Runway about her influential grandmother (for whom the line is named), the struggles she faces as a Black designer, and some of the people who inspire her.

When did you first become interested in fashion?
Where it all started was when I moved to Gambia when I was 10 years old, and I lived with my uncle and my grandmother. They have a huge atelier there, and every day they’re sewing from the morning tonight. I would see my grandmother taking the leftover fabrics and putting them together, and I always felt it was very cool. She was such a creative woman and really inspiring to me, so I would also just take the pieces from here and there [and try] to make a top or skirt or whatever.

How did you start your business?
I started the concept of Aajiya when I was 16, and I’m 27. I was 16 when I moved back to Sweden, and I began small projects here and there. My first one was batik blazers, and the response from that was such that, I was like, Okay, maybe I’m good at this, so let me just start to do it. So I did, but then I felt like I was lacking the business part of it. So I studied business management.

After that, I was like, Now I feel like I’m kind of ready, but how do you start? Where do I go? Who do I connect with? So I went to Senegal for six months and created a collection, my first, which Seinabo Sey wore at Way Out West in 2019, and that became my viral moment. And that’s when I was like, You know what? I’m going to do this as a career.

What challenges did you face?
[After that I was] just kind of like, Do I want to stay here in Sweden? Because I never felt like I belonged in Sweden. I’ve never been comfortable. Growing up, I felt like I was always the outsider. I always felt like I was different, the only Black girl in the classroom. In fashion, it felt as if there was no door for us at all, like there was nowhere for us to turn, so we had to just move out of here. It’s like, you guys don’t want us to be part of this. We’re never invited to events; even internships are a problem.

I was like, If you don’t want to open the door for me, I’ll make sure to build my own door. Honestly, it’s sad that you have to leave your own home, your own country, to go somewhere else where you’re appreciated. [In Stockholm] it’s more like, Oh, we have our own circle; let’s stick with that. It’s been like that for years, and it’s not working so far because they haven’t really advanced in the fashion spectrum. If you look at America or England, everything is so diverse, things are happening, but here it’s just flatlined.

I can speak for a lot of Black people here, creatives; we always have to adapt. My story is I had to change my name to Maya because people couldn’t pronounce my name. It’s like, I’m losing my identity to adapt to you. I shouldn’t have to do that. You always have to adapt and it always feels like you don’t belong here. They speak English when they see you. And it’s like, No, I speak Swedish. Or it’s like, “How long have you been here?” No, I was born here. Why does it always have to be that conversation? And it’s daily all the time. I just don’t care anymore; I’m creating my own little bubble and if you want to come, you can come get some knowledge, some culture, some stories, so you can feel where I come from through my clothes.

Do you have any role models?
Selam  Fessahaye honestly opened the doors for us. I can say that because she definitely made me feel like I can do this too, being a woman and being from East Africa. I was like, Oh, my God, she really did this. And she did not care. She did that. She had the big silhouettes, the colors everything; it was so, so amazing. And for me, that really inspired me to also just not give a shit, basically.

Do you feel more comfortable in Sweden now?
I honestly had to create my own world and that is why my clothes are so loud prints, colors…. This is who I am and I’m not afraid to own my space.

How do your Swedish and African roots meet in your work?
My work is basically a description of me. I come from two worlds, and I’m putting that together and just creating strength through that. That’s the simplest way for me to explain it. And also African fashion has been so downplayed, and I just want Africans to take space in the fashion industry. It’s coming, it’s coming, but I’m taking my steps as well to be part of African fashion, to lift it up and [to] be more mainstream [so] you can go everywhere and [it’s] not just like a costume, so it’s beautiful. And I’m so excited for this.

Can you tell me about the cowrie print in your latest collection?
For me, this collection was an introduction of who I am, where I come from. And the cowrie shell has been so commercialized that the history of it has been kind of lost. So for me it was [like], Let me take that back and educate people and also wear it as armor. It’s just a luxury feel when you know the history of it. In Africa, it was the first currency before the colony, and for me, it was like, this is something rich and also very cool and very authentic, so why not put this as a print and just have loud colors on top of it?

What could the industry do to help you?
I think it’s becoming more open to new creatives, a new experience of clothes and not just sticking to just one thing. I’m starting to see that Africans are being more accepted in the fashion industry, like Kenneth Ize. He’s someone who is very inspiring, because he came and had his show in Paris, which was amazing, with fabrics that were made in Africa. That’s what I want to be.

I just want people to accept what I’m making, and in the near future, I’m going to introduce other fabrics, like batik that is handmade. There’s so much luxury in our culture, and I really want to show that to people. As Africans, we wear customized clothes every single time and bring that kind of luxury feel with fabrics that are handmade and sustainable as well.

What do you dream of doing long-term?
My ultimate goal is to have a studio in my home country and bring all the tailors together. The thing is, in Africa, they’re all self-taught, and they’re lacking skills that could be very good for them if they want to branch out and create their own stuff. My ultimate goal is to have my clothes made in Gambia. I make them in China right now. I want to move everything here, make all this stuff in Sweden.

And then once I feel like I’m stable enough, I can go to Gambia, back and forth, and just make my stuff from there. I really, really want to be part of the infrastructure in Gambia or Senegal. It’s a higher purpose, it really is. It’s not just to sell clothes or whatever; it’s to bring awareness to Africa, how creative they are, how sustainable they are really, because most of the things that they do, it’s [with] what they have. It’s a big job to do, but I am very determined.

Content courtesy of Vogue Magazine & Nairobi fashion hub 

Whole: A Fun, Fresh Plus-size Kenyan Fashion Label Founded By Getrude Njeri

Whole is a fun, fresh plus-size Kenyan Fashion Label that will soon be the go-to destination for plus size women and plus size men in Kenya looking for beautiful fashion pieces.

NFH Contributing Writer Linda Wairegi sat down with the founder Getrude Njeri, to learn more about Whole clothing brand and her journey as a fashion designer.

 

LW: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

GN: My name is Gertrude Njeri I am a multimedia journalist and a media marketer. I have worked as a writer, audiovisual producer and digital media strategist, and storyteller for different brands. I enjoy uncovering and narrating stories that relate to human experiences, their desires, convictions, interests, and challenges.

Fashion is an extension of who I am, and I believe it is also a great tool to tell one’s stories and express oneself fully. That’s why when I saw a gap for full-figured men and women to openly express themselves through fashion, I was inspired to start my clothing brand.

LW: When did you fall in love with fashion?

GN: I think I’ve just always loved fashion since I was young. Dressing up, styling, and seeing how little bits, pieces, and elements can come together to make something really beautiful!

LW: Who inspired you to start your fashion journey?

GN: Myself to be honest. haha. I am such a lover of clothing and style and when I visited stores, and shops that had really beautiful pieces but didn’t have them in my size, it was disheartening. Also knowing that other plus size men and women were going through this inspired me to serve them.

LW: What’s the name of your fashion label? And why?

GN: Whole.

I was looking for a name that had meaning behind it and that would be timeless. So the message behind it also greatly influenced the name.

For so long plus size men and women were made to feel inferior cause they did not fit into beauty standards. Whole seemed like a perfect fit cause it alluded to how wholesome and complete these full-figured beings are both inwards and outwards.

LW: When did you start your Whole?

GN: Whole has been a process, I can’t say it had a definite beginning. But the concept came to me when I was at my aunt’s place. (She is very religious and spiritual)

So as she and my mum were having banter and drinking tea, I was in the other room browsing through my phone, looking at style inspiration as I always do, then it came to me!

So I ran out to where my mum and my aunt were and I pitched the idea to them and they were like “YES! please do it!” And being in that anointed home, it just felt like God told me to do it there and then!

So from that day, it has just been a journey really. We are constantly launching and identifying new ways that work for us and our customers.

LW: Where can potential customers view and purchase your designs?

GN: We have the temporary shopping site now and the catalogue available here:
https://linktr.ee/WholeClothingBrand

So regarding the price points, we have custom-made pieces that are 10-20 % more than the ready-to-go pieces. However, the ready to go pieces range from Ksh 2,000-4,000.

LW: Why did you decide to come up with a plus-size clothing line?

GN: From a personal experience, I lacked trendy and unique clothing in my size and so many of my plus size girlies expressed the same sentiments. And generally, plus-size bodies are so divine and they too, deserve clothing that makes them feel beautiful and whole.

LW: What makes it different from other plus-size fashion labels/houses?

GN: Our Whole Assist feature is a whole new ball game!

We know that plus size men and women have their mass distributed differently; into different sizes shapes such as apple, hourglass, pear, square etc.

This platform is here to ensure that all the pieces you buy from us have the perfect fit! With the specific measurements you share, we tailor-make or adjust the clothing you purchase from us according to your size and shape.

Also Whole is more of a message than a clothing brand. We are here to literally change the perception of these beings as worthy frames of style and appeal through our pieces. Think of Whole as a revolution!

LW: Can you tell us more about your design process?

GN: So we mostly curate our designs and pieces. The idea was that so many trendy clothing that was in the market was unavailable in larger sizes. So we identify these unique pieces and recreate them, to flatter the full-figured body and make them available to plus-size men and women.

LW: Do you have an interest in making plus-size clothing for men?

GN: Yes most definitely! I have a whole design mood board for my plus-size men. And we plan to actualize this in the next collection.

LW: Have you faced any challenges?

GN: There are constant challenges, It has not been easy! Especially in the early stages. Just getting everything in place and getting that grounding was super hard. But we continue to grow and overcome!

LW: What’s your favourite ‘Whole’ Item? Why?

GN: This is so so hard for me to choose lol cause all of them are just amazing and have different elements in them that make them unique and beautiful.

LW: What’s your highlight so far, in your fashion journey?

GN: My highlight would definitely be the fact that Whole has so much potential, each time I am in my Whole workspace working, I see so many avenues for its growth and success.
And that is my constant highlight, to be honest!

LW: What’s your dream collaboration?

GN: There are excellent plus-size models that I’d love to work with! They are:
@Misslionhunter
@Styleissttyle
@jnaydaily

I’d also love to tap into brands that do not have a broad size range and give them that!

LW: Do you have an inspiring quote for aspiring fashion designers?

GN: Please just do it! Dream it, Idealise it, Fall in Love with It and do it! Do it scared, uncertain, and terrified but please do it! Everything else will follow, I promise.

LW: Is anything else, that you feel our readers should know about you or about Whole?

GN: Go purchase your first piece from Whole!
For your sisters, aunts, girlfriends, mum, best friends! There is something for everyone.
https://linktr.ee/WholeClothingBrand

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