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Collection: Besida

Artisan:  Sophia Danner-Okotie/Besida, Fayetteville, Georgia

Besida is an emerging, sustainable women’s clothing brand with an Afrocentric flair. We produce a range of products including apparel and accessories while building communities in an environmentally conscious way at our factory in Benin City, Nigeria. Our e-commerce platform serves as our primary source of business; however, Besida is stocked at several boutiques and shops in the United States.

Beyond the eye-catching aesthetics, what makes our items unique are our incredible values. Besida’s products are individually made with love, sustainable practices, and ethical principles. Besida values people over profit. My team of esteemed tailors at Besida’s workshop in Nigeria are paid fair living wages, significantly above the country’s standards. We push our sustainability merits further by providing products that can be worn in different ways, one size fits all, and reducing fabric waste.

I love thinking about the journey of the women I design for. What does she like, how is she going to wear it, and where is she going to wear it are the top three questions I ask. For example, a mini skirt: I add some unique enhancements like a slit on the side because the Besida woman is bold. Then, I ask myself how the Besida woman would like to wear her new skirt. She’d probably want to wear it with a matching blouse that’s loose because the skirt is already fitted and she’s a woman who loves balance. If she doesn’t want to be too matchy-matchy, she can always separate the looks. This creative journey helps me stay true to the brand story.

My background is actually in broadcast journalism; however, my hobby throughout my college years was fashion styling. I enjoyed the creative process of communicating how garments looked on human bodies. I began my design journey after I got frustrated when I couldn’t easily access ready-to-wear, modern African print fashion. So, I began by contracting a tailor to bring the designs I had in my head to life.

The markets in Nigeria have a special way of making my creative juices flow. I’m inspired by the bold wax print fabrics in the shops, the unique handmade garments worn by strong, working women, and how well Nigerians reduce and reuse waste. I incorporate that into my creative process by creating styles that are durable and transcend time, and I upcycle scraps of fabrics into new designs.

During quarantine, my cousin Sarah Passman and I collaborated on making cloth masks with leftover fabrics we had lying around. Those masks quickly became our best-selling item!


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