GHANAIAN DESIGNER – MAKING CLOTHES FOR PLUS – SIZE WOMEN
By Paul Ndiho
A Ghanaian fashion designer launched her clothing line “Selina Beb” eight years ago. Since then, she has created quite a buzz on the fashion scene in Accra. Now, plus-size women who like to shop, but are worried about what to wear, and where to buy, are getting a custom-made shopping experience right at their doorsteps.
Designer Selina Bebaako-Mensah has always been a fashion fanatic. She set out to be a lawyer, studying law in Britain, but didn’t like it and switched careers and went into radio broadcasting. However, this was not for her either. For fun, she decided to experiment with African fabrics and taught herself the art of designing high-end handbags and women’s clothing.
“When I moved back to Ghana in 2008, I noticed that African prints accessories were in Vogue. Everyone was using African prints for all sorts of things, for bags, for jewelry, and not just for clothes. I said, wow, it encouraged me, and they were durable, stylish, and nice. So, I was like, maybe I should venture into it.”
Her creative designs blend a mix of vibrant African prints and high-quality leather to create a dazzling array of handbags that she names after her favorite clients.
“This is another unique design named after one of my clients. They deserve to be honored because they’re Loyal to me, and some of them have been with me even before I had a shop.
Since launching her label, Selina Bed – the derived from her maiden name. “Bebaako,” which means another warrior in her native language Krachi, from the Oti region of Ghana. She spends a lot of time behind the scenes creating new styles. But, she also likes to wear her own designs.
“I have always loved accessories. As a plus-size woman, it’s had to find stylish clothes sometimes. But I realized with accessories; I could always accessorize my clothes to make them more stylish. Like what I’m wearing today is quite plain, but with my bold statement accessories, it makes it stylish.”
Bebaako-Mensah has participated in several fashion shows, showcasing innovative, unique, and cutting-edge fashion designs.
“The reason I started a clothing line was not that my customers where asking for it. But I had a challenge as a plus-size woman, finding clothes in my size and a lot of people who are in my size, they tell me, find it difficult finding clothes in their sizes. And that was also another inspiration and the reason I started my line, and so because of that, my clothes come in big sizes as well. We the UK sizes 8 -22 so women on who is on the large size can find clothes in our shop.”
Adiza Ibrahim Sadia, one of Selina’s’ clients, says she wants to be associated with the brand because it makes her feel good.
“I like to feel good, when I look good myself, I feel good, so anything beautiful I want to be attached to it. For example, this is 100% leather, the fabric is GTB, and the beads are handmade.”
Afia Addo- Ghedemah, another client, says the day she wore this outfit, people were blown away because of its uniqueness.
“It’s not so easy to be outside of what would be called the normal bracket to walk into a shop and purchase clothes that would fit and fit right. One of the things that I appreciate about this Selina Beb brand is that they have maintained to the truth of the tagline which is they want to make things for the everyday woman. The everyday woman comes in all different shapes and sizes.”
Faith Senam Ocloo, notes that Selina’s ability to design a variety of prints has given her limitless opportunities to show her creativity and grow her client base.
“When you walk into Selina Beb shop, your jewelry, hand bracelets like the one I’m wearing. For instance, I’m wearing something lay back with a white. So, I add a bit of color with my neckpiece and earrings as well. So, I get something with a little bit of African handmade beads, nixed with local pearls, bronze, and gold. You find something that fits your style.”
Bebaako-Mensah attributes her success to her family and other supporters who pushed her to pursue her dream of working in the fashion industry. As Selina Beb’s label expands Bebaako says her brand will play a significant role in inspiring the next generation of young designers.