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How Aisha Ayensu built Christie Brown Into A Top African Fashion Powerhouse

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Since winning the 2009 Emerging Designer of the Year Award at the inaugural Arise Africa Fashion Week in Johannesburg, South Africa, Christie Brown has grown to be one of the top African fashion brands to reckon with. From winning that award, the label has catered to international celebrities like Beyonce and public figures alike whilst showcasing unique and eccentric designs.

Behind the rising African label is Aisha Ayensu, the founder and Creative Director of Christie Brown credits the success of the fashion house to her embrace of the modern African woman. As Christie Brown continues to catch the eye of various women around the globe, it’s clear the label founder has her sight set on something bigger.

Aisha got her love for fashion from her grandmother, the original Christie Brown, who was a seamstress but never had a big fashion house. In honour of her, she decided to name the label after her. The push to start a fashion brand came as a result of wanting to be part of a movement to change the narrative of Africa. ‘’In 2008, there was the whole Africa rising movement and I absolutely needed to be a part of that, the only way I knew how was through fashion’’ she revealed.

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Without a clue of how to stitch or draft a single pattern and no technical skill, Aisha decided to launch the brand in 2008. ‘’I believed in this dream, I knew it was what we needed in this part at the time and I was really inspired to go ahead and pursue my dreams’’. After she launched the label, Aisha realized the need to enrol in a fashion school and immerse herself in the technical aspect of fashion.

The fashion label got attention just about a year after launch when she won the 'Emerging Designer of the Year Award', but she still needed the world to experience the side of Africa she lived each day. With the aid of social media, she was able to share her talent with the world. ‘’Remember that this is a young brand starting out in Ghana, West Africa, how else will the world see what you’re doing, if there weren’t platforms like Facebook at the time’’ she said.

Having social media presence and putting good imageries out have been a very crucial part in making the world know what Christie Brown is all about. Beyond this, it is also top of mind for the label that their quality of product matches their imagery. Aisha also attests that leveraging these social media platforms have helped to drive sales. ‘’ Ever since we started using Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp to actually drive sales for the brand, we’ve seen an astronomical leap’’ she said.

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For Christie Brown, Instagram has been instrumental in shattering the glass ceiling created by the COVID-19 pandemic, which almost every sector experienced. The label was able to hold a virtual show to showcase their latest collection. ‘’We did everything on Instagram, we first started with IG live and it was super interactive, the comment section was amazing’’, ‘’ we then transitioned to IGTV where the main show was aired’’ she pointed out. The brand was able to connect with over 30,000 viewers from that virtual show and it, in turn, had a positive effect on their sales.

Through Whatsapp, the label is able to communicate with their clients both locally and internationally, especially when there are new pieces. ‘’ When there’s new stock in the shop, instantly we are able to curate a little catalogue and send to clients ones you’re on our mailing list’’ she pointed out.

From a label that started as a made-to-order business, to opening its first shop, Christie Brown now makes ready-to-wear apparels and has launched an e-commerce store where potential customers can make purchases and their products get shipped to them wherever they are in the world.

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