“Money is not the only driver for me. It is definitely first about providing value. The money will come as long as there are people that you are providing value to.”
The idea came from her own challenges with finding a swimsuit that she could feel both beautiful and comfortable in. Ofili-Okonkwo, 28 is the entrepreneur behind the Kamokini swimwear brand grew up in Nigeria, but moved to the UK to complete her high school and university education.
“It was here she discovered how few bathing suits catered for the bodies of African women.”
“A swimsuit is kind of like wearing your underwear in public. So the inspiration for Kamokini swimwear came out of a self-conscious need to feel beautiful and comfortable, and look confident while I’m so exposed.”
She first started designing her own costumes in 2011 and it wasn’t long before friends and family asked her to design for them too. But it was only once she moved back to Nigeria in 2014 that Ofili-Okonkwo saw the potential to turn her designs into a business.
“People who saw my swimsuits on [mutual friends] started asking if they could get one too. And the more this happened the more I realized people actually want this,” she recalls.
“I decided to start with a small collection because I didn’t have much funds and was using my own savings to see if this idea could come to fruition.”
Ofili-Okonkwo is currently conducting market research into designing swimwear for the many different proportions seen in African women.
“Yet no one has really tapped into the fact that things have to be turned on its head to be made for us. So that’s kind of where I am now. I’m trying to completely change this… and it is taking a little bit of research and development.”