The owner of the fashion brand making waves in Africa and beyond !
The spotlight of MFG’s ‘Introducing…’ series falls on the owner of one of the largest fashion brands on the African continent – Ms. Aisha Ayensu (nee Obuobi)
Fashion designer, creative director and owner of acclaimed all-female fashion label Christie Brown, Aisha is making waves on the international fashion scene. A fashion line which while being ‘proudly African’ also manages to ‘speak to the world’, her gorgeous cosmopolitan African prints have found their place on the front covers of magazines and underneath the spotlights of sold-out concert
Christie Brown is a monument of love which finds its foundations in Aisha’s childhood, where she watched on adoringly as her seamstress grandmother Christie Brown weaved rich and vibrant garments. The fashion line was turned from dream-to-reality as Aisha had a ‘passion for fashion’ stemming from those early memories.
She acknowledges that she originally lacked business acumen and has grown with her business, learning to use investments to be able to stand on her own feet. At the onset, Aisha didn’t know how to use a sewing machine – all she had were her dreams in her heart, and the fervently vivacious design ideas on the walls of her mind.
Completing a Psychology degree in the University of Ghana, Aisha completed many apprenticeships at various fashion houses in Ghana, eventually settling at the Joyce Ababio School of Creative Design. She endeavoured to learn the tailoring trade in order to be in a position to be able to train her future employees to be able to execute her vision. She admits to having made many mistakes along the way, but appreciates how she has been ‘learning on the job’ and appreciates the wisdom which her experiences have handed her.
Christie Brown was eventually founded by Aisha in 2008, a manifestation of a long-held desire to revamp the Ghanaian fashion industry and the use of African wax print, a medium she has deep love for. Described as ‘a representation of the understated, sophisticated and modern African woman’, the Christie Brown brand aims to produce ‘practical, functional clothes which can be worn anywhere and everywhere, extending onto accessory lines’ with ‘every piece aiming to tell a positive story!’ She has a fervent desire to portray Ghanaian culture in the best way possible and drag it kicking and screaming onto the international scene of the world today.
Christie Brown won the ‘Emerging Designer of the Year’ award at the inaugural Arise Africa Fashion Week in 2009. In 2012, Aisha was the sole Ghanaian representative at the International Visitors’ Leaders Programme. A platform for international entrepreneurs, it was here where she felt the business got the fuel to reach another level. Since then, her work has graced fashion publications such as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue Italia. Multi-award winning sensation Alicia Keys wore Christie Brown pieces for a recent VIBE magazine shoot. And at the end of 2013, Aisha collaborated with stylists involved in Beyoncé’s much-acclaimed ‘Mrs Carter World Tour’, with Katrina Hernandez claiming that ‘working with the design team at Christie Brown for Beyoncé’s Mrs Carter World Tour was an absolute dream come true.
While putting her all into thrusting her fashion house into the stratosphere, Aisha holds a strong desire to pull her generation along with the ride, hoping to inspire young Ghanaians in Ghana and the diaspora to take the world by storm. She advocates business-mindedness, and is urging young Ghanaians and burgeoning designers to see the business opportunities which can come from their talents and gifts, rather than living content with those talents in the guises of mere hobbies. ‘Do you have staying power?’ she encourages today’s youths to ask themselves when considering their future pursuits. ‘Do you love it enough to want to plug through the hard times? Are you willing to persevere? What is the message you want to put across? Tell it the best way possible! Be patient, be grounded, know your craft – the success will come!’
Aisha has fearlessly built a brand for the ‘savvy, self-assured, internationally exposed, inspired, empowered, and confident.’ She wants the brand to be internationally-recognised, without losing the essence of what Christie Brown stands for. To quote the brand’s official website, ‘after only a few of years in the industry, Christie Brown has created a strong presence for itself, reflecting the personality and inspiration of the founder, with a continued promise of effortless sophistication in each design.’
Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27)