Meet Brenda The Ankara Queen, a young Afro entrepreneur and blogger with a strong love for African-inspired prints, African culture and African fashion in general.
So tell us a bit about yourself.
As I am ever evolving and changing with age, wisdom and experience, I can currently describe myself as a hopeful and passionate entrepreneur with a strong connection to my roots. I deeply appreciate African prints and my Cameroonian culture, something I never paid close attention to in the past. I am pretty self aware and strive daily to improve upon my not-so pretty traits. I immigrated to Canada from Cameroon over 11 years ago to further my education and now call Canada my second home. I have always been attracted to and fascinated by wax prints and have been running a blog with a focus on garments made from these fabrics for the past 7 years.
Your business requires frequent trips back home, how do you manage that?
I actually do not go home as often as I would like. I am grateful to have family members who make the trip to and from Cameroon pretty frequently and so at the moment, whenever I need garments from there, I am able to just pay for the excess luggage they would incur travelling with my items. Most of my new items are currently made in Canada by African women while I am seeking a more feasible supply chain.
What have been the benefits of making your clothes in Cameroon?
Cost of production is definitely lower in Cameroon and there are so many talented women who are able to create beautiful pieces. There is a larger variety of prints to work with and prices are negotiable across the markets.
And the not so rosy parts?
One of the greatest challenges is having a steady and reliable chain of production. Due to frequent power outages, getting items sewn within a specific deadline is very challenging. Due to the frequency of certain illnesses such as malaria, staff also experience setbacks in production as they need to take off days for sick leave or to tend to sick children. There is also the general insecurity of moving around alone as a young female in a misogynistic environment. Movements have to made with great caution to avoid the wrong kind of attention from pickpockets and non well-meaning men.
When enjoying life “au pays” what are some of your favorite spots?
I fell in love with Kajazoma in Bastos, Yaounde because of the vibe, great food and great service. It is definitely on the pricier end of the spectrum when it comes to outdoor dining in Cameroon but worth every penny. I also like Chop et Yamo around Tsinga with its more laid back structure. In Douala, Lynk has some great seafood – fresh from the ocean and a more western feel to it with the white decor and modern furniture. There is also a great buffet restaurant that recently opened right next to the Douala Port called Isiland. You get to sit right at the steps of the ocean under bamboo and straw structures.
The 5th and most important spot is the street food- particularly the suya!
What other african countries have you visited?
The only other African country I have visited is Gabon. I was born there and my family lived there for a couple of years. I really hope to change that soon!
For more travel inspiration on Cameroon, click HERE.