Dec 13, 2016

Realizing the dream between Africa and the West

Travelling back and forth I had the opportunity to meet so many inspiring and talented like-minded creatives, I always wished I could work with one day. Next to a lot of researches I have done ( and am still doing),  I simply wanted to inspire through a more personal story.

If you would tell me two years ago that I would set up a fashion brand this year; I would have laughed and ask you ‘but how’? So i guess I am lucky; as they say luck is what happens when preperation meets opportunity. It took a lot of research, work travels, fails, meetings and empowering conversations to be able to build a structure that will allow me  to give life to a fashion story that is so close to my heart.

Always being inspired by proud, creative and strong woman around me, I realized that there is a sense of elegancy and pride African woman carry when dressing up in their unique items. Which is a factor that has influenced the way I – a new African woman – carry myself in the Western world. So being from the continent I have always felt responsible to change the way people look at fashion from a continent that I call ‘home’. Along this line combining my passion for style and storytelling the idea to set up my own brand came up. I wanted it to be something sustainable, with meaning and as always make a social impact. So I decided to produce in Africa – to be exact: Ghana for now. My way to support the local industry, by engaging with small production houses who are passionated to create more job opportunities and at the otherhand collaborate with local fashion talents like models and photographers, stylists/art directors. Building a brand for me is a way to create a platform that will offer the link with the global fashion industry, which I believe is needed.

In a few months I will be launching my online fashion brand named ‘Libaya’ which means a traditional tailored women’s top in Lingala ( a bantu language mainly spoken in DR Congo, where my origins are ). In fact, Libaya for me is a tribute to our motherland, grandmothers, mothers and sisters who have inspired me to become the woman I am today. And it is an honor to welcome all women around me to feel inspired and use my platform to celebrate the diversity of female beauty, connecting the two worlds I am living in.

People often ask me for advice, wondering how I have been able to embark on this journey. My secret is vision. Because one thing I know is that I am not an expert in all fields; I had a vision and wanted to be able to do more in life. I dreamed of not living a normal life, go to different places, meet different people, save money, take risks and challenge myself to become a better version of myself everyday. Which is all possible in an age where we are exposed to so many tools to create our own platforms.

So I had to make use of the opportunities I am exposed to. Being aware that I am chosing a journey that will not always be easy. Allthought this same challenging path made me realize that being African in a Western world can be seen as a privilege. Realizing I am in a strong position in a time where everyone is looking to grasp opportunities in an African landscape where there is so much yet to be discovered. Therefore I can use this position to facilitate the opportunities between these two worlds, growing up and having ties in both grounds.

It is going to be an adventure with ups and downs but I have never felt so strong in between Africa and the West. I was looking for a home, but I have always been there where I belong; I just created my balance. Africa is home for me, but not without my connection with the rest of the world. I cannot wait for all of you to embark on this beautifull journey with me through my new online brand LIBAYA.

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Picture: Behind the scenes of our first campaign/lookbook shoot for Libaya, with Ghanaian model Gina Akalanyabah and photographer Amfo Connoly.