LAJA is an online platform promoting the beauty, diversity and versatility of African prints and textiles. I founded it in 2013 to portray the positive aspects of Nigerian culture the American media didn’t show. I attended high school in Florida and I was astounded by how one-sided the narrative was of the African diaspora. I believe knowledge is power so I decided to provide information on cultural sociability like shows, markets and even the weather. I spend most of my time in the States and it became increasingly difficult to keep up with current affairs so I decided to add fashion to the mix. That and the increased inquiries on m ankara clothing spurred me to begin selling my designs in 2014 (see the latest collection here). In Spring 2015, i got my first store (ExotiqueDurham) to carry my products. I aspire to empower individuals through African prints and fashion.  I want to encourage people to embrace their heritage (no matter how complex) and also be appreciative of others.

Summer 2016, I released a new collection, you can view it here.



I love what I do and running LAJA has forced me to be conscious of the decisions I made. I was confrontedI opted out the pre-med route because I realized I couldn’t find the positive energy I felt writing an article or editing pictures in my classes. Most of the classes I took at Duke were guided by my venture. I sought spaces where I could learn and apply. My venture has changed the way I view the world and opened countless opportunities.

I wore multiple hats in the production of my content as editor, writer, web developer promoter, and designer. I am constantly pushed out of my comfort zone for example, it was difficult finding a dependable photographer so I learnt to take my photos using a tripod and shutter release remote.  Through LAJA, I realized I enjoyed marketing. I was good at story telling in all forms. I had to create advertising campaigns, marketing+selling strategies and more. My story was covered by one of the largest newspapers in Nigeria and DukeGlobal.

At the same time, I faced countless rejection and disappointment in my journey. What keeps me going is seeing how far I’ve progressed and the vision of what I want LAJA to be. Getting feedback from my audience that they feel enlightened and empowered truly spurs me. I purposely refrain from labeling LAJA because I don’t want to limit her to one category. I’ve learnt to try, try and keep trying different variations of the same task. I learnt that success isn’t only the big shot moment but the daily repetitive  tasks over time. I’ve finally accepted that it doesn’t matter what my product is at the end of the day, my focus the last three years till now is promoting the beauty, diversity & versatility of African prints.  Since freshman year, A LOT changed in my life but LAJA remained constant and every action I took always pointed back to it. I intend to build LAJA after graduation regardless of where life takes me. I intend to use whichever opportunity to further fuel my goals for my venture.


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