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Duchesse: Valorising African Culture

The brand produces articles including handbags, and accessories like bracelets, necklaces and earrings with leather mixed with African fabric.

T he fashion industry is taking a different turn in Cameroon and Africa at large. Most fashion designers are creeping into stitching traditional attires and accessories. As one is defined by the culture in most parts of the country, people are becoming proud of it and want to identify with their culture anywhere they go by dressing in traditional regalia and other accessories that depicts their culture. Many fashion designers have seized the opportunity to not only make money out of it but promote the culture of the country as well. A young Cameroonian in her early 30s has braved all odds after she lost her job as a commercial director in a company to redress the steps of women to their root by reminding them of their culture. Nadège Esther Enganaboye, the Managing Director of DUCHESSE, made up her mind to make women look African from their hairstyle, through their skin colour to their dressing. She does hair and body lotion, treats natural hair, stitches handbags with leather mixed with African fabrics as well makes slippers and shoes with same material. In addition, she does dress accessories like necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings and also stitches T-shirts with African and Cameroonian designs representing some with the national symbols and even the map of Cameroon and that of Africa. The fashion designer who studied dressmaking in a professional school started the one million (FCFA 1 million) worth enterprise with just FCFA 5,000. Going by her words, she made body lotion for herself and the positive glowing of her skin colour enticed friends who requested for it. She then used FCFA 5,000 and got FCFA 15,000 at the end of the day, it encouraged her to increase production. And at press time, she does not only sell over 20 handbags, 30-50 T-shirts, and sends goods abroad for sales, but she equally trains young Cameroonians and puts food on the table of two employees. She sells handbags at between FCFA 12,000 and FCFA 15,000, slippers is sold at FCFA 5,000 as well as T-shirts while she dresses lady’s heel shoe at FCFA 8,000 and a pack of accessories comprising a necklace, bracelet and earring cost FCFA 5,000. With the experience she got from school, and other training centres as well as her sleepless nights watching “Fashion Africa” on TV, she is more determined to stimulate her creativity.

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