Dreams, big enough, will drive you to your destiny to fulfill that which you desire. Home, sometimes, have to have wings to fly.
Home for Matildah was Kenya for 11 years from the tribe Luo that she shares with famous actress and model Lupita Nyon’go. She inspires to be her but on a fashion level. She sees her as her role model. She shared her home with 3 other siblings, she is the youngest, father and mother. Her mother, Lornah, would become one of her biggest role models as well as her brother, Tobias, close to her, who is also a big influence in her life. She spoke of him often. She loved growing up in Kenya and will reference her home often, but she was exposed to different surroundings which will allow her mind to advance and eventually land her into the US, featured at 103.7 Runway show, and a fashion design student at Wade College in Dallas, TX.
Meet, fashion designer, Matildah Okumu, watch how she gave her dreams wings and is, now, making a name for herself despite the odds.
We met at the 103.7 Runway show. We were having a casual conversation when she informed me that she is a fashion designer and was featured that night. I must have carried blinders because where she said she was featured I stood right there speaking to someone and didn’t know she was in my presences. Maybe, it wasn’t time for us to meet yet. She was intrigued by my conversation and I, hers, we exchanged cards. I knew I wanted to be in her presences again to learn about her as a designer and soon that chance would come.
It was a milder day and she wanted to meet in a big white building close to design district in Dallas. I had never seen Design District before. I stumbled upon it as I went to get a bite to eat.
We greeted one another with hugs and hellos, and, then walked down a long hall way until we met in a foyer with a tall water fountain in the middle, the stairway had a cool architectural design as well as the doors. There was sitting and I asked where are we because I had never been in the building before. She informed me that Wade College was right above us and she had classes in a few.
We spoke of former days to learn the young woman behind the design. She said boarding school was a hard time for her because she didn’t fit in with anyone. She attended an all girl school and felt like a loner. She did have one best friend that she is still connected to named Nyathomo. In 2005, she moved to South Africa that she says is a lot like America. Sketching and drawing is what drew her into fashion design. Once she started she continued down the path and attended the Fashion Institute in Kenya. She wanted to create designs for the young, modern African woman. She refers to her designs as her alter ego. I asked her who is your alter ego, she said wild, filled with attitude, a socialite, and confident. She loves attending social events, apart of the inner circle and isn’t afraid to be the attention in the crowd.
She is her own woman and Matildah carries those traits as well because she chose a different path than the traditional, educational route she could have taken. Her pursuing her dreams came with support from her mother and father who she thanks for her success. A lot of her hard, go-forward work ethic comes from her daddy being a hard worker, creating and providing a life for his family, but mainly her mother’s struggles that did not define her but pushed her to accomplish what she sat out to do.
Her love for fashion landed her at Wade College but not without the help of one of her sister’s friends that would become her mentor.
She has been in the US for 3 years and says she loves her Wade family. They have created an opportunity for her to spread her wings and create the Kenya woman that she hopes will inspire people back home.
Her latest 4 piece collection she is working on is inspired by Gods of Egypt. One particular god, the god of destruction. The collection is risqué and see through. The inspiration for her designs come from Lupita, Betsey Johnson, and the 80s fashion era.
Her inspiration in the fashion industry is Vivienne Westwood because she has a voice and stands for what she believes in. Matildah stands for people remaining true to the nature of who they are, who God created them to be, and Blacks seeing themselves as royalty and worthy.
Her style represents elegance, traditional, modern, ethnic, youthful, and urban. The words that describe her characteristics are: Afrocentric, Style changer, Trendsetter, and Humble. She wants to be remembered for her Enthusiasm for her culture, Embracing Africa, Her Style, and Ability to bring her culture into The main stream audience. She sees herself traveling to the UK, which has a lot of African Influence, New York Fashion Week, Paris, Kenya, to share her fashion influence, and South Africa because they get her.
We finished our interview with a rush for her to attend classes. Her wings are extending and she doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.
You can connect with her via Instagram @matildahokumu