Cowrie Design launched in 2009 following its founder’s first trip to Nigeria, a country well known for its elaborate celebrations such as weddings, birthdays and naming ceremonies. During the visit, and with the help of an assistant seamstress I had designed a number of garments/dresses, on return to the sunny UK, I received lots of recognition from family and friends on the quality of the sewing especially the finishing Cowrie Design is a subtle blend of classic and contemporary fashion and accessories inspired by the African continent, aimed at todays professional, afropolitan and conscientious women.
Being that this was my first trip, I was bewildered by the conditions in which the seamstress was able to produce such quality items. As friends and family began to place orders thoughts began to circulate, the creation of a business venture immersed.
More than the being just a business venture my thoughts turned to how to create sustainable incomes of Kehinde and other small enterprises places where low Human Development Index (HDI) was prevalent.
Cowrie designs are a subtle, non traditional style and mixture of African contemporary fashion to be worn both casually, chic, sophisticatedly and formally, inspired by Africa’s love of bright colours. The creator’s idea was to show that colour was not just for the parties but also for today’s professionals and cosmopolitan women.
We were impressed with the quality of the tailoring, also with the seamstress’s ability to improvise her use of freehand design, especially under the conditions such as inconsistent power supply and limited workspace.
Coming from a non-design background Cowrie’s focus turned towards how best we could develop strategies that could eventually enable us to acquire factories and create employment for local men and women. Cowrie Design partnerships lead to the formation of Cowrie Foundation, a Non government organisation (NGO) or Non for Profit. Cowrie Design is just one of its aims to achieving its objective which is to use a range of strategies crucial for development and practice. Cowrie Foundation will undertake strategies for industrialisation, economic growth and human development.
These partnerships lead to the founder pursuing a Post graduate Degree in Development.
Cowrie Foundation intends to develop other strategies for sustainable industrialisation, economic growth and human development. A key feature is women empowerment. Economically empowering the women, helps towards poverty reduction in there families and communities.
Nigeria’s lack of infrastructure and utilities such as bad sanitation and poor water supply, are situations common to women like Kehinde all over Nigeria. Cowrie Foundation has now set up its vision to empower women in business and be at the forefront of African Economic Development, sustainable industrialisation and technologies.