Millions of people construct Africa’s cultural fabric that is woven through the traditions and dress reflected in everyday life. Because of this, many have traveled to the continent to explore the life and style of those often far removed from western influences.This was the mission of Maya Gorgoni, whose trips to Africa and encounters with its unique fashion and dress inspired her to deliver these original concepts to the mass market.After first traveling to Africa in 2005, Maya has since traveled to countries like South Africa, Cameroun and Nigeria, many times accompanied by her mother who has helped her in creating their very own fashion line rooted in using the eclectic African fabrics they encountered during their travels.In February 2011, the two launched Royal Jelly Harlem, a clothing line that first began with a contemporary womenswear line using 100-percent authentic cotton and untouched fabrics directly imported from West Africa and crafted onto colorful, flattering silhouettes.Maya, with the help of her mother, who has an extensive background in retail, created fashion that reflected the artistry of African prints through a vehicle that has since expanded to include menswear, home decor and most recently, a babies line which they debuted at their Spring/Summer 2014 presentation in November.
“I wanted to try to figure out a way to maximize the exposure and create it in a silhouette that could be more wearable everyday,” Maya told theGrio at their latest presentation in New York City.
The teamwork behind the mother-daughter duo has launched a successful line of clothing that embodies the essence of Africa’s indelible fashion prints and makes it available for people of all ages to admire and consume.
However, the idea behind Royal Jelly Harlem was a spontaneous decision the two decided to embark on after positive feedback from passersby who admired the dresses Maya initially made for herself.
“We were on vacation in the Bahamas and I had made dresses for myself using the African prints and this woman in a boutique really liked them and said she wanted items like that in her store so that’s where the idea turned from just personal to a retail business,” Maya said. ”That’s when the line first started and it caught on from there and we’ve been busy with it every day for the last three years.”
The business behind RJH has since boomed and their online retail store has become the most accessible way for fans to purchase items from the collection.
“Royal Jelly Harlem tries to call attention to the diversity of the African continent and its culture, traditions and art. We believe in maximizing the boldness of the fabric’s images and prints by designing pieces that embrace this art,” a description on their website reads.
The New-York-based line is manufactured by African-born dressmakers and tailors and produced here in America.
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