In an exclusive interview, SaloneJamboree recently spoke with the proprietors of Debor Fashion, the twins poised to change fashion industry narrative in Sierra Leone. The duo took their time to tell SloneJamboree what inspired the Dabor Twins to go into the venture, the world of fashion? And more importantly, what is unique about them?
SaloneJomboree (SJ): Firstly, who are the Dabor Twins?
Dabor Twins (DT): As the name implies, we are blood sisters, twin for that matter. We grew up from a loving family, and by being loved we extended that love to each other and those around us. We are Hassanatu and Hussanatu and we both attended the Methodist Girls High School in Freetown where we sat to the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE).
We proceeded to the Institute of Public Administration & Management, University of Sierra Leone as a dream come true for us. We graduated with BSc in Banking and Finance. But besides our academic pursuit, we had always had passion for fashion; and for many a time if we are not seen putting ideas together, we can be having an amazing time with family and loved ones. This pretty much sums up who we are.
SJ. What inspires your creating Dabor Twin Fashion? What’s the story behind it?
DT The inspiration behind Dabor’s Fashion came about our dress sense and love for modest dressing. Too many times when coming up, we just wanted clothing that one could be comfortable in; something you can put on and have people respecting you for what you have on. We grew up in a society where being body-shaming is normalized and was the order of the day, hence catering for plus size women also was part of the business idea. Coming from a strict family and good upbringing, as girls we were mostly covered. Due to that, we started to innovate with our wrappers and extra pieces of clothes. Hence we started designing; though it was nothing serious at first, it became a habit.
As the saying goes ‘practice makes perfect,’ we believe those were our practicing days.
Family members and close friends marveled at the little tricks of our end products by then, which garnered the deserved attention we needed to kick-off as a start-up.
Our goal is to have a decent brand that caters for ladies looking for modest makes in Sierra Leonean wears. Part of our dream is to change the dress sense here in Sierra Leone and to have a unique look that can identify Sierra Leoneans wherever they are in the country and the world at large. With all that being in place, we decided to turn our passion into a business.
Being sisters, we opted for our surname ’Dabor’ as part of our business name.
SJ. What are some of the products that you guys make?
DT: Our products include bonnets, slippers, handbags, backpacks, dresses, bikinis, aprons, traditional clothes, skirts and jackets just to name but a few from clothing to accessories… Every two months we release a new collection of items and restock. All our products are made with love and are affordable and cost-friendly. Everything we make we have our customers in mind. Their satisfaction comes first; hence making our business one of the go-to for all things African.
DT at the start, one of the challenges we encountered was balancing studies against business; trying to secure a degree while at the same time running a business is a different kind of sport. Though it’s our passion, education was and is our priority. Despite our ups and downs running between lectures and business centre, we managed to succeed in our academic work.
Another challenge we faced was having an internet presence. All we know is how to produce until we have on our team two of the best if not the best, social media marketer and content creator; Trevor Jex King, and social media promoter Med Filipo of Mugabe Academy, respectively.
From creating our online presence to telling our brand stories, his strategies and marketing skills have helped us to become what we are today. Putting together contents, managing our social media accounts, to handling all our brand identities, Trevor is always playing a major role in our business, and working with him is so easy, as he takes any businesses he’s part of as if it were his own. On the other hand, we have Med closing the gaps on prospective customers, giving us the internet awareness we so needed.
We are grateful to Med and Trevor. Keeping up with trends, setting trends and introducing some styles that Sierra Leoneans has not embraced yet is also another challenge. But we thank God now that we are a trusted brand for all those we cater for, as they are always looking forward to seeing what our latest designs will be.
Delivery is also a major problem we encounter as business owners. Some of the addresses to customers are not accessible by vehicles except you have to trek for some distance to do final delivery. Though we have our delivery guy, which we acknowledge and appreciate, most times we have to make the trip. Some places are out of our delivery distance but since customer satisfaction comes first, we are always ready to go the extra mile.
The challenges are too much, from finances to internet fraudsters and individuals who will put in only for them to have their phones turned off when we are out to deliver to them.
Our success stories are too much. We will first like to thank our family, numerous customers, well wishes, friends and loved ones. With their steadfast support that has taken us to places and gained the attention and publicity we so desire as a business. Having that self-satisfaction from following your passion, starting your own business to making a decent income and meeting new and different people is part of our success stories. We have collaborated with a couple of brands, businesses and corporate houses to give their events a touch of class and grace. From being a vendor to having our brand being showcased at runways, to being blogged about and guest appearances on shows is a dream comes true.
We even launched our brand ambassadorial program which we signed our first Brand Ambassador; Michelle Jaward, who is a TV and media personality and a fashion influencer.
These are some of the things we dreamt off that are actually manifesting and we have not even started yet.
SJ. What is the next agenda/ goal for Dabor Twins Fashion?
DT There are certain trade secrets we won’t disclose as of now. But one of our agenda is to open a shop with a physical address. Plans and designs are in motions as we look ahead to having our own space. For some of our goals/agendas, we love to keep our customers guessing and predicting what’s next. Nonetheless, we are always here with our customers in our minds to see how best we can be their go-to brand for everything Africans.