As a person who’s inspired by worldwide fashion, especially my love for vibrant colors, prints and great quality, I’m thrilled to see African Fashion continue to rise in the trendsetter ranks. Ever since I walked in this fashion show, I have been a huge fan of this fashion community.
One person blazing this trail in African Fashion is a young, vivacious sister named Kelechi, beautiful soul and creator of Zuvaa, a community dedicated to African Fashion.
Today she will share her story of how Zuvaa is bridging the gap & fashionably leading the way.
Zuvaa: My Story
Written by: Kelechi
Throughout my young adulthood, I sought to find ways to make an impact in the world. I had a passion for the continent of Africa and a passion for technology, but I was never sure how I could leverage my love for these very broad fields, there had to be some type of link. I did work for a while in youth education and better understanding how youth could be used as agents to make a difference on the continent of Africa. Although I soon realized that while I loved kids, education just was not my passion.
It never dawned on me that a link I was looking for could be through fashion. And when it dawned on me, I felt like a big dummy, because I love fashion. I have always loved fashion. Not so much haute couture part (Gucci, Chanel, Prada, etc), but more the expressing personal individuality through style part. Gucci, Chanel, Prada, for a very long time to me is what fashion was. It never really occurred to me that fashion, culture and community could all be used in the same sentence.
So what did I do after this dawned on me? I have to work. I started to create an online platform for African Inspired Fashion, Zuvaa. At the time I started Zuvaa, there were so many other online stores for African Fashion. I wanted to differentiate myself from the crowd. I didn’t want to further saturate the market, I wanted to disrupt the market. It took a while for people to understand my vision, they would continuously ask, ‘but how is Zuvaa different than other stores for African Fashion?’ My answer was always the same – I was the difference. I was using my background in social media marketing and community management to create a community for African Fashion, not just an online store. I wanted Zuvaa to be an online platform for the exchange of ideas of knowledge sharing. I wanted Zuvaa to be a community for people who truly appreciated the beauty and uniqueness of African Fashion.
In creating Zuvaa a saw a unique opportunity to:
– Create Bridges in the African Diaspora
– Support Women-owned businesses
– Support Black-owned businesses
– Support ethically made fashion
Realizing all of this, really took my vision for Zuvaa to a new level. Zuvaa is not just a store; it’s a movement. With the Zuvaa platform, I seek to engage people who truly understand and appreciate the beauty of African fabrics and I really want to create a community around these people. I also want to create a community of people who wish to connect themselves back to the continent of Africa through fashion. This could be Africans in the diaspora or African Americans. I truly believe in the power of African Fashion as a way to bridge the divide between these groups. Historically Africans and African Americans have tended to be culturally divided, but I hope Zuvaa will be an opportunity to bring these groups together.
Lastly, 97% of the designers who stock with Zuvaa are women and 90% of the designers who stock with Zuvaa are black and 100% of the items made on Zuvaa are ethically made. As a black woman, I’m all about supporting black people in business and also supporting women. I want Zuvaa to be a platform where women and Black people can be empowered to start fashion lines and inspire others who wish to start a fashion line. By creating unique styles that are ethically made, I also want to make people understand the importance of buying quality items from within their own community. I want people to understand the importance in spending a little more money for quality handmade skirt, rather than just buying a cheap ‘African Looking’ skirt from a larger retail store.
What you see on Zuvaa right now is only the beginning. I have many ideas how Zuvaa can be a platform to create real sustainable change in the world. Watch me work.
Images obtained from the ShopZuvaa Instagram page for the sole purpose of illustration unless otherwise stated.