Photos: Joey Ohene


Backstage with NYKWALE

After an impressive and sleek runway show with Oxford Fashion Studio, we tracked down 
Eugénie Ajdoa, founder of NYKWALE, a designer whose colourful rag rug effect and Afro-centric style cannot help but capture your attention. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the backstage celebrations at Pier 59 Studios, Ajdoa, whose striking blue hair was a match for the designs we had seen, gave us her story. 

‘I went to school for fashion for three years at Fanshawe in Ontario, Canada. I graduated in 2017, but it was only last year that I established a name for my brand. I’ve been doing everything I can to showcase and promote Nykwale since, and now I’m here somehow!’ 


Struggling to be heard above the chatter of models and designers, I ask Ajdoa how a graduate fashion designer in Ontario ends up on the radar of a fashion company from Oxford. The answer lies, as expected, in the infinite powers of social media. ‘I got an email,’ Ajdoa explains, ‘saying that they had been watching my brand on Instagram and that they really liked its style. They asked me to participate in one of their shows, so I chose New York, of course!’      


As with anyone, Ajdoa's journey has not been without challenges, the biggest of which has been coming to the realisation that she doesn’t need to fit in. ‘I am who I am, and the brand will be what it will be’ – it’s a simple message, but one which all of us would do well to remember. 


NYKWALE features in the music video for 'Nobody Else'

We ask Ajdoa, as someone whose collections have turned heads in the industry, what advice she might have for aspiring young designers. She sighs, as if to say, ‘Where do I start?’ but after a moment’s thought begins, ‘Accept making mistakes. Making mistakes and failure is key, but you’ve got to do your best to learn from it.’ 

Before our time with Ajdoa is over, we take the chance to ask her the question on many of our readers’ lips: can you make it in fashion with zero contacts? ‘Yes! Of course, it is very possible. I mean I did it, I didn’t have any contacts, I was a shy person, but I knew I had to get out of that shy shell. I just went and talked to people, told them about what I do, and showed them my work. You have to find those people yourself – be confident.’


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