Aji Kah is a Young Innovative Gambian fashion designer and the founder of Urban Handmade Leather Collection, a stunning vibrant brand of handmade leather bags amongst other products designed by using the delicate craftsmanship of Gambian artisans. By supporting their immense creativity and handwork, this line seeks to prevent the extinction of the gambian textile tradition. In this Interview with Sunugambia.com she tells us more about her work.
1- Who is Aji Kah and what sparked your interest in fashion?
Aji Kah is young Gambian, raised in Gambia as well & Fully employed. I’ve been interested in fashion since I was a teenager particularly handmade items made from African fabrics … I remember when I use to make handmade brooches, headbands & bow ties with hand needle.
I’ve always loved things that are beautiful and appreciate good clothes and fashion.
2- what made you take it more seriously and make a career out of it?
I’ve always had compliments on my outfits (still do) and the creative things I make. I’ve got my friends and family encourage and push me into making it a career but I wasn’t serious about it until 2016 when I went for summer vacation in UK.
I had this handmade leather bag with a touch of kente that I designed which people appreciated. I kept having compliments which was normal to me until my Aunt was like “Aji Kah you have to be serious and start designing these for the public”. Thinking of how much people appreciated that handmade bag I taught to myself “why not”.
3- are you self taught or did you study it?
I’m self taught but I desire to study more about fashion & design.
4- have your pieces become more appealing to people as a result?
I guess so. In our current generation, African people especially the young are embracing their own, their traditions & unique type of fashion. We appreciate being different and with my vibrant products, no need to ask “Is it African made?”.
5- how is your work received locally?
Amazingly well! The recent collection I published is definitely a turning point for me because the support and appreciation I’ve received globally this past weeks is just incredibly wonderful.
6- what is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your company?
That what is meant for you, will reach you even if it’s beneath two mountains.
I was just doing some of these products because I love and enjoy doing it. I’ve never planned to make a career out of it.
7- what would you like to achieve and what advice would you give as pieces of advices to young Gambian that what to engage in innovation?
I would love to expand and be recognized internationally. Also have an EC website someday soon.
I’m still learning but my advice to the aspiring innovators is “don’t let anyone tell you you can’t” Believe in yourself, trust your instincts and crawl on from there.
8- Your last word about SunuGambia.com
It gives me joy that young talented Gambians are behind the SunuGambia website. Sunj Gambia, cha kanam. Keep up the good work & thanks for supporting me.