DashikiPride was founded by three sisters; Mirian Chinyere Ugokwe, MarySonia Chizoba Ugokwe, and Lilian Chioma Ugokwe. The three sisters were born and raised in Aba, Nigeria where they discovered their calling to entrepreneurship. After moving to the United States in 2007, they were adamant about keeping their African upbringing alive.
When DashikiPride came to life in the summer of 2014, these Ugokwe sisters had hopes to share and educate the world about their beautiful African culture, as well as give back to their community.
In lieu of BET Awards, which premieres Sunday, June 24 @ 8P/7C, BET Digital would like to take time to celebrate other brands that embrace and enhance the culture in a similar fashion.
BET DIGITAL: Why did you start DashikiPride, and what does it mean to you to celebrate African culture?
DP: We started DashikiPride as a way to share our African culture with the world. We wanted to paint a beautiful image of Africa through clothing, an image the media doesn’t always show. It means a lot to us to celebrate the African culture because it’s celebrating ourselves. We get to show the world how powerful, strong and mesmerizing the African culture is.
Coming to America in 2007, ages 11 and 12, it wasn’t always easy being African, therefore being able to help erase the negative stereotype about Africa is both a blessing and a duty we take very seriously.
BET DIGITAL: That's amazing, celebrating African culture and engaging your audience to do the same is hugely important. With that being said, how have you been able to successfully collaborate with a great network of popular celebrities and influencers?
DP: We’ve been able to connect with lots of celebrities and influencers mainly through social media. We constantly DM and e-mail any influencer that we believe will be great for our brand.
We also advertise on large platforms on social media that has our niche. Through this, celebrities and stylists see our brand and reach out to us.
BET DIGITAL: What advice would you give to other fashion outlets that hope to grow their business beyond just a local or regional level?
DP: We will tell other fashion outlets to make sure they do their research in understanding the mission of their brand, their niche and the purpose of their creations.
They should also use different influencers to make sure their brand gets the exposure it needs. In addition, treat your customers with honor as they are the building block of the business hence the customer service has to be really great.
BET DIGITAL: What do you believe sets the brand apart from others that embrace African culture?
DP: DashikiPride is more than a clothing brand, it's a lifestyle brand. Our clothes are about freedom, pride and embracing one's self; which is a mantra that everyone should be able to share in. We invite everyone to share this a beautiful experience in which they could enrich their identity and draw back to their historic roots.
BET DIGITAL: BET shares the same sentiment and understands the value in sharing and embracing the roots of our identity. And as Black culture continues to be popularized across the creative landscape, we know that many influencers and brands would be interested in working to promote their cultural ties. Are there any huge collaborations that are coming up this year?
DP: Yes, we are going to be working on some collections with some music artists and record labels.
BET DIGITAL: Can you walk thru the process of being able to develop and promote an online fashion business?
DP: In order for you to develop and promote an online business [first], you need to create a website - an avenue where your product will be seen and purchased. Then you proceed to open different social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts to drive more traffic to your account. You use word of mouth to also spread the launch of your online business.
The process takes a lot of hard work and research. You have to know your audience - what they like and the products they are willing to buy from you.Also, you need to figure out how much your customers are willing to pay for your product.
One of our biggest challenges was learning how to run a company at a young age, while dealing with school work.
BET DIGITAL: What’s the creative process behind how you find what fabrics and styles to create the current featured fashion pieces?
DP: In order for us to get the right fabric, we make sample fabrics that we believe our customers will like. Once the fabric is made, we edit the fabric until we get to the final fabric that the whole team agrees upon.
BET DIGITAL: What impact do you hope to leave with consumers who engage with your brand?
DP: We hope our customers are able to connect to their roots through our clothing. We want our clothes to spark up conversations.
We get so happy when our customers ask questions about the origin of our clothing. We love when we [can] share stories about where we come from with our customers.