We caught up with the stylish, intelligent, creative Nadine Dungu Ndjoko Peisker, the Switzerland-based founder of OwnBrown, the tights brand that loves brown skin. Sapelle is one of OwnBrown’s UK stockists, so we thought we’d fire some questions to Nadine to here about how the brand started.
Q: Tell us about yourself
A: I am of Congolese descent, married, with two sons, and I live in Switzerland. I am a lawyer and I worked for the Swiss authorities. My job was pleasant but I wanted to be more creative and to be creative you have to be independant. So I decided to go back to my passion for fashion. As a Congolese, fashion has always played a role in my life. For Congolese people, fashion is a way to express ourselves. Congolese are known for “la sape” and the so-called “sapeurs”. But few people know that it started as a civil rights movement defying the dictator Mobutu’s regime. Wearing certain clothes in the street of Kinshasa meant at that time voicing your opposition to Mobutu’s laws. “La sape” was a way to stay free even under the dictatorship.
Q: What inspired you to launch OwnBrown?
A: Launching Ownbrown wasn’t particularly about my person only. Coming from a professional background as a lawyer, I just felt this to be the right thing to do. I launched this line of products because it mattered to me that brown-skinned women needed to feel represented and involved in the process. Plus, my sense of freedom was at stake. Ownbrown brings to brown-skinned women the freedom to wear what they want whenever they want. They can unleash their radiancy even in winter.
Q: What work went into launching the brand? What lessons have you learnt?
A: I was lucky to be surrounded by passionate professionals who helped me shape Ownbrown as it is right now. We immediately found the brand’s name and the rest fell almost into place. Of course it’s a back and forth process. We had and still have to really listen to our customers. It’s hard to know what works in London, Paris or Geneva and find a balance. We learned not to go too fast and not to be afraid of testing things. Nothing is forever and sometimes you have to postpone an idea because it’s not the right time to launch it.
Q: What does the OwnBrown brand stand for?
• Ownbrown is an invitation for all women of colour to rise up, shine, and stand up proudly in their own skin.
• Brown-skined women deserve and are looking for quality products. We’ve worked purposely with specialists with Worldford and Fogal R&D’s experience to bring the best range to the market. Every detail has been thoroughly checked out. Ownbrown tights are an affordable Luxury.
• People appreciate that our tights last that long and they are feeling involved in the process. Women own their own brown and they are celebrating it with us. Our Instagram is a testimony of that atmosphere of a community coming together.
Q: Where can women find OwnBrown?
• Online on ownbrown.com
• London at Sapelle’s 281 Portobello Road store and at www.sapelle.com
• In the United States on Mynudest.com, WeBuyBlack.com, soon skcollection.
• In Spain through Afrofeminas
• In Switzerland Terre d’Afrique, Africanity, Mwasiyalelo
• In France, coming soon to Markethnik.com
Q: What can we look forward to in the future from OwnBrown?
A:We listen to our customers. It will depend on their feedback. But I can already tell that we are going to launch our knee-highs line. We are really happy about it. They will come in four shade. Knee-highs are also essential accessories.
OwnBrown are celebrating their launch by offering shoppers 40% for one day only on Black Friday. Don’t miss this opportunity to get your OwnBrown tights at Sapelle’s store and online at www.sapelle.com
If you’re celebrating a wedding soon, whether it’s an elegant city wedding, a traditional fairytale or a relaxed countryside affair, we’ve got some styling tips for you. We’ve paired contemporary fashion inspired by Africa with modern accessories to create unique, stylish looks that will do you justice at your occasion.
THE ELEGANT WEDDING
Balancing form and function is tricky, especially for an elegant wedding where both looking fabulous and being comfortable are essential. Shoes are the foundation of your outfit. A beautiful pair of heels that fits well whilst letting you mingle and party all day and all night are an asset.
Here we’ve anchored the elegant look with printed pencil skirts (both Sapelle), complemented by neutral accessories and beautiful tailored tops.
THE CITY DAY-TO-EVENING WEDDING
For a city wedding where less is more, try using dark, elegant colours and unfussy prints that will transition perfectly from daytime vows to evening reception with ease. A stole or throw is essential for layering up later.
THE TRADITIONAL FAIRYTALE WEDDING
A traditional country wedding is the perfect occasion to indulge in some feminine style, with frilly retro-inspired tops and flared skirt silhouettes. Add a pretty headpiece to complete the look.
THE RELAXED BEACH OR COUNTRYSIDE WEDDING
Select natural, light pieces that look effortlessly stylish while staying cool.
Don’t forget a wide-brimmed sun hat for the afternoon and a pastel shawl for when the sun sets and temperatures drop.