From being a constant fixture at her late uncle’s tailor shop, Mariama Mounir Camara has become one of the top Guinean designers in the US, working with stars like Tory Burch and Liya Kebede. Her prints have even been worn by the delectable Michelle Obama.
She would go and collect pieces of fabrics cut from [her uncle’s] customer’s clothes to dress her doll. Apart from dressing her doll, Camara would make sure her dress was diferent from other children’s for christmas. This is where her love for fashion came from.
In her own words,
“I always loved fashion without even knowing it was called fashion. I mean I grew up in Guinea, I had no idea what that word stood for then. My mother’s family was also very passionate about making prints. I would sit and watch them make fabrics. I really wanted to join them in the tie-dying process but I couldn’t because I was too young.”
“Seeing the success of women tie-dyers of Kindia, Guinea, and traveling to several African countries made me realize other artisans needed similar opportunities. I also realized African textile needed to be revamped into something fresher, with new colors and silhouettes, to compete with other textiles and be worn daily as every other print. I wanted to make African handmade textile accessible to the design world while creating sustainable jobs for local artisans in Africa and preserving their artisanal work,” says Camara.
This is her advice to young designers. “It doesn’t matter where you come from; what’s most important is where you expect to be. Dream big; believe in yourselves, and know the only limitations are those set by you.”