“Perseverance and resilience are key. One should also try to remain true to the vision. The idea is to create go-to pieces for a woman’s wardrobe and her life—beautifully crafted pieces that a woman will love today, in two months, in two years, in five years—and to do that for as many women as possible.” —Narciso Rodriguez
This quote right here depicts all that this young woman is about. Readers, please, meet Mariama Ena Kanneh (nee Kamara). A fashion entrepreneur and the proud owner of Amena’s Haute Couture, which she runs alongside her uncle. She takes her inspiration from the colourful and vibrant African fabrics, prints and turns them into beautiful ready to wear pieces for the everyday woman. Hope you will enjoy reading this interview and be inspired by her story to start something no matter how small.
DS: Give readers a brief background about yourself
I graduated from IPAM with an honours degree in Financial Services. I later pursued a Masters degree in Business Administration at Anglia Ruskin University, where I majored in International Business. After returning in 2016, I started working for a reputable Bank whilst looking out for a business idea. I am very passionate about fashion and had a keen sense of fashion since I was a kid. So it was easy for me to partner with my uncle, who had the expertise but lack the funds to establish a viable business. Starting this business has helped me to learn, change, adapt, get tough and as I continue to improve every other day.
DS: What motivates you as a Fashion Entrepreneur and why Fashion Entrepreneurship?
Most people think, that entrepreneurs are primarily motivated by making money. For me, I derive my business power from knowing that I am helping people gain employment to cater for their families. There is a strong demand for fashion clothing in Sierra Leone and we have the right staff with creative minds to change the narrative.
DS: Who are your target audience?
Our target audience is composed of men and women, within the ages of 18-35 years, with mid-range income. Amena’s Haute Couture customers are mostly based in Freetown and therefore, are able to keep up with the latest fashion trends.
DS: Fashion changes so fast how do you stay up to date with the trends?
With fashion trends constantly changing; I try to stay ahead by watching fashion shows, visiting fashion websites, blogs and always keep an eye out for celebrity styles.
DS: What is the most rewarding part of being a Fashion Entrepreneur?
The best part of being an entrepreneur is contributing to something larger than yourself. Solving problems by bringing a product that people need, giving livelihood to others and crafting the world you want to see, as this is way more fulfilling and the most rewarding for me.
DS: What is the most difficult part of being a fashion entrepreneur and how are you managing it?
The availability of Fabrics- It is very difficult to get hold of a fabric that is affordable, high quality and unique. This is why you see most fashion houses using the same fabrics. It’s not lack of imagination, it’s because that’s all they can find.
I mostly try to source fabrics from neighbouring countries in order to get unique prints.
DS: Where do you see yourself in the near future?
Our plans are in God’s hands, we shall take one day at a time, for now, I am just trying to build a brand and get my business name out there.
DS: What is your pet peeve?
I cannot stand it when people wear overly tight clothes; wear something that is your size, that would eventually look fabulous on you.
DS: Who are your favourite designers locally and Internationally?
Madam Wokie has a very good taste in fashion. Frederica(J&F) is also great. Internationally, I love Lisa Folawiyo (Jewels by Lisa), Folake Folarin-Coker (Tiffany Amber and Mai Atafo.
DS: How and where can people locate you in case they need your service?
Our store is located at 27 Bailey Street, Brookfields. On Instagram as Amena Haute Couture. You can also call us on the following numbers; 078242851/075004009.
©By Rahima Vandy Kargbo known as Dasalonetiti Rahima