Why we started an African-inspired fashion brand

It was my 40th birthday party in a few weeks and I wanted to wear something unique.

There are many high street fashion shops where I live. But somehow, I needed to create something new on this occasion. Forty years on, life has dealt a mixed hand. I’d coped well, I thought. Being a busy entrepreneur, wife, mother and everything else in between, I wanted to celebrate that at 40, I seemed to have landed on my feet.

I’d bought a beautiful green Ankara fabric and I knew exactly what I wanted to make: An halter neck maxi dress that shouted “Goddess”. It’d show off long limbs and a touch of cleavage. The pattern would be irresistible to any eye – bright floral prints for a goddess indeed. Ankara fabric is always colourful and bold!

Over several WhatsApp messages, I mentioned it to my friend of 20 years, Osa. She was used to having clothes made where she lived in Accra. It wasn’t so common here in Aberdeen, Scotland to have clothes made. Unless it’s your wedding dress.


My fabric!

With my fabric in
hand, I went into the town centre to find a seamstress to make my dress. The
least it would cost was £150! Plus, I had to buy my own lining.

Frustrated, I went
home with my fabric and concluded that I have to buy a dress after all.
Fortunately, I had the listening ear of my pal, Osa.

“I’ll have to buy
something on the high street,” I complained.

“Do you have the
design you want to make,” she asked.



“No two peoples’ journeys are the same. Don’t compare yourself.”

“I’m sure my tailor can make this,” Osa wrote, “But it means I’ll need to buy a different fabric for you. Is that OK?”

I was in luck! Osa was planning on coming to the UK for my party anyway so she’d bring the dress. The dress would cost a fraction of the initial quotes – even with a new fabric AND lining! Yay!

Having a dress created especially for me was a lovely feeling. It meant a lot, symbolising my life journey so far. No two peoples’ journeys are the same. Don’t compare yourself. The Goddess was a symbol of how I’d started to see myself.

fashion brand yo couture
 Since the party and the dress, Osa and I talked many times about how we can bring that lovely feeling to others. As someone who had run two businesses, I designed the business model and what the brand would stand for. Osa is on ground in Accra and can get close to our fabric suppliers as well as seamstresses.

The birth of Yo Couture linked to my passion for supporting other businesses. Millions of African families make Ankara fabric for a living. It feeds and clothes their children. Being Nigerian (and African), Osa and I understood first-hand how hard women worked to support their households. It is common for women to be the breadwinner at home.

So, there you have it. That’s why and how we started Yo Couture. It’s early days and we are out of our comfort zone in many ways. I’m an engineer and product marketer. Osa is a medical doctor. 

fashion brand yo couture


What we have in common is 20 years of friendship, a lifetime of fighting our corner and a passion for clothing that amplifies the beauty within.

Welcome to Yo Couture.


African-inspired women's
fashion brand

We believe in the power of looking and feeling beautiful through bold and bright outfits. Our designs are all limited editions, so what you buy is unique. We are passionate about bringing African print fabric, Ankara, to the world. Ankara provides an income to millions of African families. 

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for all our new designs and styling tips!

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Yekemi Otaru

Yekemi Otaru

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