TOGOLESE FASHION DESIGNER TURNS HER PASSION INTO A BUSINESS
By Paul Ndiho
Togolese fashion designer Lenina Codjo has always been a fashion fanatic. Now, she is the founder and creative director of her boutique and brand “AdjoAsika.” Her use of “African prints” has made her one of the Togo’s top designers, selling fashionable clothing, accessories, and home décor items.
Lenina Codjo started doing jewelry and other accessories when she was a student in neighboring Ivory Coast. Now, she has turned her passion into a business, launching her clothing label “AdjoAsika”, meaning casual wear in her local direct. Since then, she has created quite a buzz on the global fashion scene.
“From the jewelry, I started making bags for women, for men. Then I started doing clothing to match with the bags. People were more and more interested and then I opened my boutique.”
Codjo has participated in several fashion shows, showcasing innovative, unique and cutting edge fashion designs. Recently, here in Washington D.C, she was part of the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, a U.S. Department of State initiative that identifies and builds networks of women entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa that are poised to transform their societies by owning and operating small and medium businesses. The program also promotes business growth to U.S. markets through the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
“Here we learn a lot about how to improve our skills in business. In our country it’s critical, we need this kind of help to empower women. I have learned a lot about the US market too – how to integrate because now we want to tell our stories through our items, through our creativity so this is the way to have new customers, new people to talk to so that we can have more opportunities for our community.”
“My brand name is Adjoasika because I wanted this to be more serious to have a story to tell, so I designed this logo that inspires people.”
Codjo is part of the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are trying to make a difference in their communities.
Codjo’s fascination with fashion- and love for raw African prints started when she was a young girl- and now she competes with some of the biggest names in the West African fashion industry. Linena Codjo attributes her accomplishment to her client’s, and supporters.
“My clients are local and people abroad, experts, people who love handcrafts, individuals who want to encourage handmade/African made… the name of my brand is casual wear so it can be clothing or an accessory that you can feel.”
Fashion analysts say AdjoAsika’s collections are known for their uniqueness. Her hand-made accessories such as handbags, brooches, laptop bags, shoes and other accessories with African prints are transformed into stylish pieces. Codjo’s creations have tremendous potential to meet the growing demand for high-end products in the global market — including Africa’s rising middle class.
Lenina Codjo says that young African designers — especially women, can play a significant role in business development on the continent through their entrepreneurship.