They maybe be new to the game but they bring on the best the industry has seen in a while. Jessica and Jenifer Danjuma who are co-founders of luxurious ready to wear line MARYMAII are gradually taking over the Nigerian fashion scene with their breath taking designs and stylish wears.
We had a chat with the founders and they were to happy to tell us how they started out and what they are currently working on.
What inspired you to become a fashion designer?
We have always been creatively inclined but we fell in love with fashion around the age of 16. We had a massive vogue collection and really enjoyed fashion blogging and vintage shopping at the time. We knew we were going to work in fashion but it was only after we saw a lack of what we liked to wear in stores paired with the fact that there was still a gap for stylish, good quality, affordable yet luxurious ready-to-wear clothing in Nigeria that we saw it as a great idea to design our own line.
Once we developed knowledge about the business of Fashion and the creation of designs from concept sketch to a fully rendered garment we launched MARYMAII.
What projects are you currently working on?
We are currently working on expanding MARYMAII, starting with a Loungewear & Sleepwear range. We have always had issues finding luxurious and good quality sleepwear in Nigeria so we said why don’t we design our own with the MARYMAII aesthetic? We’re currently working on samples for this and we’re excited to see how it comes out.
Is fashion something you have always had a flair for or is it something you took up?
Fashion has always been our first love. We were always obsessed with clothes, magazines, runway collections and shopping growing up. We would always take one hour to get our outfits ready for going to class when we were at school. To us, choosing our outfits was more fun than where ever it was that we had to be. It has always been a part of us and has always given us the ability to convey a message without speaking and avidly express ourselves.
What inspires your designs?
Our designs are inspired by anything. It ranges from an emotion or a mood to a certain texture or architectural piece we may have come across recently. But most of all the MARYMAII aesthetic is always present which is ‘Elegance with an Edge’. It’s a mixture of hard but soft, classic but edgy pieces. It mirrors our personalities as twins perfectly so we make sure every piece we create represents this.
Did you receive any sort of training, whether professional or otherwise?
We attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Technology (FIDM) in Los Angeles, California. Where we both got our Associates Degree in Fashion Design and a thorough experience on the garment design process. It was a great learning experience.
What motivates you?
The fact that we want to leave our legacy in the Fashion Industry. It is a primary goal of ours.
Secondly, we’re motivated by the endless possibilities we are privileged to have access to as a millennial in this digital age of the internet.
What do you think about the Nigerian fashion industry?
This Nigerian Fashion Industry is growing which is exciting. There is also an inclusion of not just Haute Couture Designers but Ready to Wear Designers which is important for customers to have the option of both. But there is still a gap in the African Fashion Industry at large and we need to build and celebrate African Fashion and Designers rather than looking to the West for recognition.
What advice will you give to upcoming designers?
We would advice you to be passionate about your craft, be confident in your abilities, and learn how to make it profitable. As creatives we focus a lot on the creative process and not enough on the business aspect.
What projects have you worked on?
We recently worked on creating a Fashion video edit to our collection. Fashion videography is a very important tool we’re going to be using in future to capture the essence of our brand.
What is your favorite part of being a fashion designer?
The fact that a design can go from your imagination, to concept sketch to a fully rendered garment worn by women around you. That feeling is always magical.
Who is/are your fashion icons?
Rihanna & Tom Ford
What are the five items you can’t do without?
1. Oversized white shirt
2. Lip balm
4. An iPhone