Chelma’s Design Capturing the heart of Sierra Leoneans

Meet miss Mahawa Rachel Lahai. A graduate from Njala University with B.Sc Hons Business and information technology. She is an accountant in one of Sierra Leone’s leading accounting and audit firms. She is the CEO of chelma’s Design, a go-getter, and risk-taker.

Chelma’s design is made in Sierra Leone and an African inspired fashion brand that is into; kids’ clothing, bridal accessories, African accessories for both sexes and home decor. Chelma is a combination of two names; the last four letters of Rachel and the first two letters of Mahawa. The idea of Chelma started from her desire to participate in the AYV Annual Miss University Contest. Her friend was the reigning queen in 2012/2013 and she wanted her to enter the competition the following year 2013. So she went ahead and bought the form, filled it and returned it. After submitting her application form for the competition, she was discussing and sharing her excitement with her friend when her friend told her that beyond the catwalk, which she will coach her, she will need to prepare to display a particular talent as part of the competition. The statement baffled her and she replied, I don’t have a talent. Her friend then told her you better be looking out there for something you are good at and will display for the audience.

One day she was watching Ebony life TV on DSTV when a particular program came on and a young entrepreneur was teaching viewers how to make the button necklace DIY. She was so caught up into it and was inspired by it. She instantly called her friend and tell her that she had discovered her talent. The next day she used her lunch money to buy some of the items she needed to make the necklace to try out what she learned on TV. The finished product was great and she wore it to campus. She received so many compliments and reviews and got her friends and colleagues requesting she made the same for them. She started doing research, going to YouTube and making different types of neckpieces. For some personal reasons, she did not take part in the Miss University Pageantry as planned. But that process changed her life forever. She discovered she can work with her hands and that process has led her to where she is today.