If I have decided to tell you my adventures as a fashion entrepreneur, I should tell you everything from the beginning. How did I start my brand? When, where and why?
I decided to create my brand after completing a few special orders of luxury luggages and bags for private clients, made with the help of an artisan leather worker who specialized in saddling techniques. I was working at the time as a shop manager and as a freelance designer in Paris.
After making some savings through my job as well as my recent sales, I decided to try to launch my first collection Moika. In this collection I wanted to show my know-how and create a line of clothing for women like me; who had grown up in a bicultural environment, used to travel since the youngest age and influenced by the different cultures that brings so much richness to our world. In this collection, I collaborated with Morgane, French Korean, who is a close friend of mine since fashion school. In gratitude to her great help, especially with the embroideries, I named this collection Moika as a mix of our both names, Morgane and Jessica.
I didn’t want to create a brand for a specific crowd from a specific culture or of a specific colour. My aim was to create a brand for every woman, with colours that fits everybody, without being too ethnic, but sharing a mix of culture that can connect with everyone.
Luxury bags made on order and first collection MOIKA - made in France
Official launching of Otinguema
I presented this collection in Paris during the fashion week 2010. During this presentation, I met the founders of mondefile.com, which was a plateform for young designers. They were very interested by this collection and the image I was promoting. They gave me the opportunity to participate in the designers competition they were launching to create a dress that will be voted online to be produced. My dress has been selected and then sold on their online shop. It was the beginning of a long collaboration with them. I created a few collections for them and it helped me to gain credibility. However this wasn’t enough for me to be financially independent so I was still working on the side.
First dress selected and pieces from collections made in exclusivity for Mondefile.com
I didn’t sell this first collection to buyers but I did make some pieces for some private clients. It is always difficult to find a store to buy when it is a first collection. Normally buyers wait to see if the brand will make a second collection. New brands are created almost everyday but they don’t always stay alive after one collection.
My savings were getting low after this collection and it began to seem difficult to plan the creation of a second collection as the production costs in Paris and in France were pretty high. It goes with the quality but not with my purse.
I was questioning myself a lot. I wasn’t sure of anything. Should I do another collection? Should I continue working in the shop and do some freelance jobs? I needed to clear my mind. I needed to find what I really wanted to do and what I could do.
I needed to find my roots and to think of what I could bring to the fashion industry.
I hadn’t been to Gabon for 8 years. My dad and my sister were there. I finally quit my job as a shop manager and I decided to go on holiday in Gabon for a month. It was a way to disconnect surrounded by my loved ones. I thought this could help me to find my next move.
Well moving to Gabon turned to be my move. In this one month vacations, I got lucky to find a job as a editorial manager of a local lifestyle magazine. I decided to leave my Parisian apartment and moved all my stuff to Libreville. My collaborations with mondefile was still on, I could continue working from Gabon, coming time to time to Paris, and the occasion was perfect for me to try to produce my next collection entirely in Gabon.
Follow my adventures in Gabon in the next post and subscribe to be the first to receive the next post.