African women entrepreneurs are coming to the fulcrum of business, and doing it with passion. Makamba Online discovered this in a recent interview with Simbi Emani, a Zimbabwean-born distinguished fashion designer who is based in the United States of America (USA).
Emani has a passion for creative designing, and is making waves in the local and international fashion industry. Makamba Online had the opportunity to sit down with her and discover where her passion for fashion comes from, and how she turned this passion into a successful business.
Emani is the founder of Emanitees, a custom-handmade African inspired fashion lable. Each and every piece that’s been ever sold is hand painted and created by Simbi K. Emani, that’s what sets Emanitees apart from other brands. Emanitees doesn’t screen print or heat press, all the pieces they make are 100% authentic and unique – no two are identical.
Fashion is a tool of expression, it resembles a lot of things such as identity, culture and belief. Emani said that she wants people to express themselves without any limitations. “I started Emanitees because I wanted people in the diaspora to express themselves and their love for Zimbabwe in a creative way that hadn’t been done before. I am proud of my African identity which hasn’t been tainted despite my exposure to many other cultures due to having lived abroad for a long time.”
A university student, majoring in engineering and chemistry, Emani says that she is also a creative artist and designer.
Why a clothing company?
“Creativity is a big part of what I do. As an artist, I had a vision. I wanted my designs to transcend my imagination and hopefully inspire people while doing so. Emanitees is a brand that promotes identity and patriotism. Even though we are spread out all over the world, forever home is in our hearts.” Emani went on to explain the company name, “I started my brand, Emanitees, at the age of 17 and over the years it has grown both locally and internationally. The name Emanitees comes from ‘Emani’, which means faith in Swahili and ‘tees’ for t-shirts, therefore, Emanitees. At Emanitees, faith and hard work is what we live by,” she said.
On the challenges she has faced as a young female entrepreneur, Emani had this to say; “Being a young entrepreneur has its challenges. One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is balancing school, work and running a successful business. Emanitees isn’t just a local business, we ship internationally. Emanitees are mainly sold online and available in a Mamady’s Primitive Art Boutique located in Galveston, TX.” This makes for a lot of hard work and making sure that she balances her time effectively, she went on to say.
“In the future, I hope for Emanitees to be available in several stores worldwide; that’s something I’m working on. Gaining more exposure, expanding and becoming a household name. One of my biggest goals is to keep making art and keep touching people with my art. People contact me all the time and tell me how they’re so happy to have received my shirt and how they wear it proudly and rep their city, country and home. That is why I do what I do,” Emani said.
“So far, I have shipped Emanitees to people in the UK, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Belgium, France, Thailand, Trinidad and all through the US. In 2016, I hope to gain more customers and supporters in more countries and grow the Emanitees brand.”
Emani is currently working on collaborations with a few other artists, these she said will be completed and in stores by Spring 2016.
Advice to prospective entrepreneurs
Describing her path as an entrepreneur, Emani told Makamba Online about the nature of her operations. “Getting to where I am today hasn’t been easy. I’ve had a lot of opposition, road bumps, competition and obstacles along the way. However, I’ve made it through and I continue to grow. I want young people and creative minds to be able to look to me and be inspired. I want them to see that all that it takes for dreams to come true is faith, hard work and ambition. I’m not better than or more special than the next person. If I can take a simple idea and turn it into something grand, you can too. If you truly put your mind to something, set achievable goals and push yourself to the absolute limit, you can achieve your dreams,” she said.
Emanitees recently launched a new online store, www.emanitees.com. All of their original collection can be viewed and purchased there. Newest pieces and designs are posted on Instagram accounts, @simbikemani and @emanitees.
Author: Gesture Chidhanguro