Celebrating International Women's Day.
Welcome to March! It’s very special to us here at Serah Kassim because it’s Women’s month. Celebrating women, who we are, what we do, and what we contribute to society is an everyday, all-year affair.
However, the month of March is dedicated to Women, with the 8th of March being International Women’s Day. But we've decided to start our celebration early.
This year, 2022, the theme of International Women’s day is Break the bias. It’s dedicated to celebrating all women as we break free from the bias, stereotypes, and discriminations in our homes, community, fields, and wherever we find ourselves.
Join us as we celebrate International Women’s day by showcasing 10 women that are breaking the bias in the African fashion scene.
1. Akosua Afriyie-Kumi.
Owner and Creative Director of AAKW, a handbag brand.
The fashion and home decor designer from Ghana has made a name for herself and for her brand, AAKS, from being featured on Vogue, Elle Decoration, CNN, Forbes Woman Africa, Guardian UK, The Times UK, and The Economist.
Akosua Afriyie-Kumi was born and raised in Ghana. She graduated from Kingston University London with a BA (Hons) and has worked as a designer, co-owner of a fashion brand and now owns her handbag brand, AAKS, a brand that tells stories and promotes African culture through handcrafted and carefully weaved bags.
Akosua mixes creativity with top-notch craftsmanship breaking the bias in her industry.
2. Delphine Diallo
Lifestyle, art, and fashion photographer.
Delphine is a French-Senegalese visual artist and photographer. In 1999, she graduated from the Académie Charpentier School of Visual Art in Paris and worked as a special effect motion artist, video editor, and graphic designer in the music industry for seven years.
She is a visual artist that combines activism and art. She seeks to empower women, youth, and cultural minorities through her art, often drawing inspiration from anthropology, mythology, religion, science, and martial arts.
In her words - “We are in constant search for wonder and growth. I see art as a vessel to express consciousness and access to diffuse wisdom, enlightenment, fear, beauty, ugliness, mystery, faith, strength, fearlessness, universal matter”.
She has worked with publications such as Vogue Portugal, The Washington Post, Artsy, Vice, Marie Claire Italia, B&H, T magazine, Time out Magazine, Okayafrica, 99U Interview, Destig Magazine, The New Yorker, etc.
3. Deola Sagoe
Deola Ade-Ojo is a Nigerian-born haute couture fashion designer from Ondo State.
She is popularly known by her design name, Deola Sagoe, and began designing in 1988.
She was the first Black woman to present a collection at Rome’s celebrated fashion week, AltaRoma.
Deola Sagoe is known for using handwoven African materials and African techniques that were almost lost. Her attention to detail, grasp of the fashion industry, innovativeness, and creativity is evident in her designs and brand, Deola Sagoe.
She has received recognition and numerous awards including the MNET Anglo Gold African Design Award (New York) in 2000, the 11th Africa movie academy awards as the costume designer of October 1(a film), and so on. She continues to be a fashion trailblazer in Africa.
4. Maria Borges
Maria Borges was born and raised in Luanda, the capital of Angola, and was raised by her sister during the Angolan civil war.
She took on the idea of modeling just as a way to earn extra money and was scouted in the Elite Model Look Angola competition in 2010 where she got a position in the top ten. She decided to follow in the footsteps of her idol, Naomi Campbell.
In 2013, she was named Forbe’s top model and she was the first-ever model to walk the runway of the Victoria’s Secret annual show with her natural hair. She has appeared in campaigns for Givenchy, H&M, Tommy Hilfiger, L’Oreal Paris, and so on.
5. Lafalaise Dion
Designer, Visual artist, and Jewellery Brand owner.
The self-proclaimed queen of cowries is a designer and visual artist from Man, the 18 mountains city in Côte d’Ivoire.
She had always dreamed of working in fashion and studied journalism at the Institute of Science and Technology in Abidjan.
As she continued to be passionate and more aware of the fashion industry, she became the Content Manager at ELLE Magazine Côte d'Ivoire.
The once-popular form of currency, cowries, is the primary medium she and the artisans she works with use for making striking and bold pieces of accessories, celebrating her African heritage.
A dream come true was when one of Dion’s cowrie shell headpieces was worn by Beyonce in her music video, Spirit.
Her brand continues to celebrate the strength and creativity of the African people.
6. Nicholle Bobi
The Congolese-French fashion Illustrator has her art directed to black independent and modern women not afraid to break the bias, especially in European societies.
One thing that’s prominent in her art is the Afros. She’s not afraid to showcase her natural black beauty.
She teaches young girls that aesthetics and arts are universal and can cross boundaries.
Her artwork has appeared in Marie Claire, Glamour, A+, BBC, HuffingtonPost, Jeune Afrique, Ebony, Essence, and so on.
7. Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu
Owner of soleRebels, a footwear brand.
Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is an Ethiopian entrepreneur and is the founder of soleRebels, a shoe brand that was founded in 2004 to provide ethically and creatively made footwear while providing jobs for the artisans in her community.
She was born and raised in the Zenebework area of Addis Ababa. Bethlehem infuses her culture and the artisan skills of her people into her brand.
She has earned international recognition for her brand and is considered one of the most successful female entrepreneurs from Africa.
With about 300 employees and over 125,000 products sold all over the world, soleRebels remains one of the fastest-growing sustainable footwear brands in Africa.
8 Vania Leles
A Gemologist and the Founder and Creative Director of Vania Leles.
The Gemologist and founder of Vania Leles, a fine jewelry brand is from Guinea-Bissau, where she spent her early life.
She was first scouted to become a model and ended up walking for world-renowned fashion brands such as Yves Saint Lauren and Prada. She had come to find out that a lot of gems and stones used in jewelry were found in Africa.
She quit her modeling job and started educating herself in gemstones, enrolling herself at the Gemological Institute of America where she studied Gem, Design, and Business Techniques.
She worked with various jewelry brands such as GRAFF, De Beers, and Sotheby’s before starting her brand, Vanleles Diamonds in 2011. Her brand is deeply rooted in African heritage and is leading a way for mindful luxury jewelry by Africans.
9. Herieth Paul
Herieth Paul is a Tanzanian fashion model that was discovered when she went to an open call at Angie’s AMTI, a model agency in Ontario, Canada.
In June 2010, she signed with Women Management, New York. She has appeared in beauty campaigns and editorials for world-renowned brands and publications such as Teen Vogue, Tom Ford, Canadian ELLE, Vogue Italia Magazine, and so on.
In 2016 Herieth signed a contract with Maybelline New York cosmetics company and she became a mother in February 2021.
10. Lyra Aoko
Lifestyle, art, and fashion photographer.
Lyra Aoko is a Kenyan lifestyle and fashion photographer, digital creator, artist, and entrepreneur.
She brings life to pictures and engages her audience with poetic and stunning images.
The mantra for her work is - “capture you in your best light and create images from the heart to inspire and make you feel beautiful.”
She inspires black women to embrace themselves.
Many women are breaking the bias in their ways, join us to celebrate by engaging with our Women’s day content on Instagram