Hardworking and innovative are just a couple words that describe SHU junior and creative writing major MarySonia Chizoba Ugokwe, who is an entrepreneur at heart. She and her two older sisters, Lillian and Mirian, never thought that their fashion business, DashikiPride, would be as successful as it is today.
The company first launched in January 2014, but took off last summer in 2015 when they decided to create the company’s Instagram page.
“I never saw myself in one career path,” MarySonia said. “I’m a business person, I’m an entrepreneur, and I can do so many things. Creative writing is the only major that let me do that.”
She said that part of her creative process in the company stems from her major and the artistic freedom it allows her to explore.
Growing up in Aba, Nigeria, a city known as a business capital, as well as having parents who share an entrepreneurial background, it came as no surprise that these three sisters would cultivate such a successful fashion business.
When they moved to the U.S. from Nigeria, the Ugokwe sisters endured serious backlash and bullying for wearing dashikis- loose, brightly colored shirts or tunics from West Africa. Instead of feeling discouraged, the sisters continued to celebrate their heritage by wearing their dashiki with pride and confidence.
“I’m very, very happy to be part of this positive change—to turn things around and tell people, ‘Look, we could stand up, protest, send messages, but we could also get to people through their eyes and through this beautiful clothing’,” Mirian said.
The dashiki’s bright colors and exotic patterns are undoubtedly eye-catching. Dashiki Pride has caught the likes of celebrities, such as singer/songwriters Monica and Ne-Yo, rappers Remy-Ma and Young Thug, and model and entrepreneur Blac Chyna.
Students at SHU have also been recognizing the young entrepreneur’s company simply by word of mouth.
SHU junior and social work major, Carlotta Atkins, is one of Dashiki Pride’s followers. “I remember the first time I found Dashiki Pride and immediately fell in love with the bright colors. I completely support them and what they’re doing for the dashiki,” Atkins said.
Dashiki Pride turned itself into a social movement on its own. It now stands for something more than just style, it stands for confidence, pride, courage, love, beauty, and so much more.
Marianne Datu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.