In Conversation with Chichi Menakaya
Which past experiences would you say have shaped your work, design sensibilities, & aesthetic?
As early as age 12, I started making doll dresses while watching my mother Mrs. Ann Okwuchukwu Menakaya (Late), a lawyer recreate outfits made for her by top designers in Nigeria, West Africa. In my eyes, my mother was eponymous to fashion, women empowerment, and equity. Most of my designs still take origin from her and I try to make sure that each piece is lifting and brings color to lives.
What are your personal philosophy and social beliefs in life?
I believe in dreams, the type that makes every child’s fairytale real. I say dream big, start small but most of all, start now!!!! I would say run, crawl, skip, jog, race to your dreams. Never stop dreaming even if it’s hard when you just start.
What’s your personal style?
I wear different things to different places but most of them have a touch of class, chic, sophistication and most times a fusion of some sort of all. I love people to see me and see that if I can do it, they too can but much better than me.
What inspires your work?
My mother, the quest to create pieces that empower the wearer and the quest to use fashion as a tool to change the world especially in the lives of survivors of gender-based violence.
What is your vision for your craft?
I hope that one day soon, our designs will take center stage in the world of fashion. I want people to see that by wearing our outfits, they are changing life for someone somewhere.
Who are your favourite artists in your field of work?
Oscar de la Renta
Your favourite travel destination & why?
I love to travel but nowhere does it for me like Cape Town, South Africa. The cultures, the scenery, and the people.
Your favourite book, film, activity - that motivate & inspire you.
My Bible, A Woman of Substance.
Tell us something about your brand.
I started designing to showcase pieces made by survivors and also to raise money for the work we do by selling designs to the world. We also empower survivors by getting them involved in our supply chain or by supporting small businesses in Nigeria, West Africa. To colour the world with vibrant fashion that empowers while raising funds for our work.
Inspiring the world to take part in ending a grievous crime through fashion
What value are you trying to create through your work?
Supporting survivors of gender-based violence in Africa and the United Kingdom
Providing financial assistance to empower them by either involvement in the supply chain or directly producing designs or through our “Foster A Woman” Campaign.