Suakoko Betty designer Charlene Dunbar developed her love for contemporary African fashion at the young age of 9.
"I was in love with African prints and wanted to wear them every day. Not only were they beautiful, but they were personal and were my special connection to a home I had to leave abruptly due to the Liberian civil war," says Dunbar. She was frustrated that people looked at Africa in a negative light and she aimed to change that.
Most people think of moving to New York or Los Angeles to start a fashion line. Dunbar had a family and career here in Atlanta and wanted to test the waters with a fashion line which showcases beautiful designs with an African aesthetic.
'Suakoko' means "place of new beginning" in the Kpelle language and 'Betty' is the quirky girl-next-door. Dunbar started Suakoko Betty by selling a yoke-waisted circle skirt which was very different from the traditional African garb that was worn at church or events in Liberia. Taking classic African wax fabric and creating contemporary designs was her aim.
Suakoko Betty offers everything such as jumpsuits, fit and flare dresses, pencil skirts, shirt dresses and more. For the young at heart, she offers trendy crop tops and funky bomber coats that are in for the spring. You can pair them with a tank dress, boyfriend jeans, or many other additional options. Recently, she added accessories to her fashion line. You can get a reversible, fold-over clutch to spice up any outfit. Suakoko Betty fashions range from $50 and $149.
Dunbar also listens to her customers. "Whether it's the construction, unique color combinations or considering a day in a life of our customer, we put a lot thought and TLC into each piece," says Dunbar. She even makes custom pieces to suit your fashion needs. This is a perfect option for the woman who finds it hard to wear straight sizes in the malls. Who wouldn't want a custom made outfit that was made especially for you?
Her popularity has grown since she had her line featured in Belk at Phipps Plaza (and other locations) as a part of the Southern Designer Showcase collection. She regularly appears bloggers' social media pages as well as in Essence magazine. After partnering with beauty brand Cantu and automobile company Chevrolet, the sky is the limit for this emerging designer.
The Beehive Atlanta, 1250 Caroline Street, C120, Atlanta.
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