If you’re in the market for trendy, quality-assured clothing and accessory products for your children, be sure to look out for these amazing African female entrepreneurs and their equally impressive clothing lines. With a unified ethos focused on bolstering African design, production and employment, you’re guaranteed to have your little one strutting around the playground in some pretty slick and ethical threads.
Many of the women featured in this article founded and built dynamic businesses from humble beginnings. We’ve shared their stories because we know many of you reading this - whether you’re a mum hoping to bridge the gap between ‘customer’ and ‘business’ in the interest of your child’s wellbeing, or you’re looking to start a similar venture - can learn about both the origins of the businesses and the entrepreneurs who made it all happen.
Meet the women entrepreneurs who are redefining kid’s fashion in Africa:
Adenike Ogunlesi, founder and CEO of Ruff ’n’ Tumble (Nigeria)
Adenike 'Nike' Ogunlesi is the founder of Ruff 'n' Tumble a leading designer, manufacturer and retailer of designer children's clothing in Nigeria. Adenike started out modestly in 1996 selling the clothes she made from the boot of her car and in bazaars. Today, Ruff 'n' Tumble is an instantly recognisable brand in Nigeria and has a reputation for being one of the top manufacturers of children's clothing throughout West Africa. Ruff 'n' Tumble successfully caters to the unique fashion sense of today’s youngsters, from new born to age 16, happily mixing indigenous lifestyle trends with an international appeal. Read Adenike's startup story.
Nelia Annandale, founder of Keedo Kids (South Africa)
After giving birth to twins, Nelia realized there was a gap in the market for quality, comfortable and trendy kids clothing, so she started designing and making outfits for her own children in a spare room at home. Moved by a growing interest in her creations, Nelia decided to start a business. She founded Keedo Kids in 1993 and has since established herself as the founder of a children’s clothing brand centered on creative, environmentally friendly and socially responsible designs. Keedo Kids first opened in South Africa but has grown into a global brand that’s available in over 16 countries across Europe, America and Africa. With emphasis placed on using natural materials like cotton to prevent irritation, giving back to a greater community through various ‘Keedo Cares’ social awareness programs and stimulating jobs in local communities it’s easy to see why this brand is re-defining ethical business.
Asma Dukanda, founder of Mokopu (South Africa)
Mokopu is a South African startup company, launched in December 2014, that designs and produces a range of baby products and clothing using locally-sourced products and materials. Unhappy with her career as a civil engineer, Asma decided to do something more inline with her creative, bubbly personality. She made ‘the leap’ characteristic of many women entrepreneurs, and started her own company - Mokopu, which means ‘pumpkin’ in Sotho. Inspired by traditional ‘Shwe-Shwe’ fabric, she started making vibrant, trendy garments that showcased the designs and textures unique to South Africa. Asma plans to open flagship stores in Maboneng, Cape Town and Durban but for now, you can find her at various markets and events across South Africa. Read Asma's startup story.
Nkemdilim Begho, Ashim Egunjobi & Ijeome Nwoke, founders of ‘Always Me by Anne Li’ (Nigeria)
Always Me By Anne Li specializes in creating handcrafted gifts for babies, toddlers and their parents. With their handmade, unique baby and maternity products, such as baby play mats, toddler sleeping bags, bibs, diaper bags and nursing / baby pillows, Always Me hopes to bring a little color and comfort into your home. Their products are beautifully designed to grow with your baby from newborn age to toddler-age. We also ensure that each product is safe for your baby to sleep on, lie and play on and cuddle with. Every item in the Always Me by Anne Li product line is a one-of-a-kind and skilfully made by our designers and seamstresses using the best quality materials and incorporating African fabrics and designs. You also have the option to personalise or customise any of their products, making them even more special. Read their startup story.
Shingai Nyagweta, founder of Kuna Kids (South Africa)
Finding great children’s clothing that appeals to both the young ones and the parents, and which at the same time celebrates the vibrancy of African textiles, has now been made so much easier. South African entrepreneur and designer, Shingai Nyagweta, founder of KuNa Kids, has built a niche children’s clothing company that embraces the uniquely local shweshwe fabrics, but incorporated into funky and practical designs. Kuna Kids employs local seamstresses, uses traditional fabrics and makes a small quantity of clothing in each range, so your children wear beautifully made garments that support local women, while looking a cut above the rest. Read Shingai's startup story.
Amelsa Yazew, Founder of Little Gabies (Ethiopia)
The story of Little Gabies began in 2013 with Amelso’s personal quest for the perfect blanket for her first-born, Caleb. Like many new mothers, she wouldn’t settle for any product that wasn’t of the highest quality and made with natural materials. The search came up short and eventually she decided to start making her own blankets inspired by the traditional Ethiopian Gabi. Amelsa wanted to honor her rich heritage, source locally and create something that embodied the very same loving and warm tradition that she was raised in. She also wanted to create a product with a distinctive and unique touch suited for the joy and lighthearted fun that babies represent. After hours of testing, creating and collaborating a signature line of baby blankets was born - Little Gabies. Since then, she has employed people in her local community to spin, weave, and embroider every fibre to ensure the same level of quality with each and every Gabi.