Dashiki Nations, a clothing retailer that designs more modern versions of traditional African fashions, has launched in Mequon.
The retailer is focused on e-commerce, selling its clothing at dashikinations.com. It was co-founded by Nathaniel Cooper, Avinash Limbu and Rachel Mututi, former classmates at Lakeland University in Plymouth.
Cooper, 24, graduated from Lakeland in December 2017 with a bachelor’s in computer science and business administration. He now works as an IT desktop technician at GSE in Germantown, while serving as chief executive officer of Dashiki Nations. Cooper is originally from Liberia, and now lives in Mequon.
Limbu, 24, is marketing manager at CORE Consulting LLC in Thiensville and chief marketing officer at Dashiki Nations. Limbu last year earned a bachelor’s in business administration and management from Lakeland. He is originally from Nepal, and now lives in Mequon.
And Mututi, 22, this year received a bachelor’s in business administration and marketing from Lakeland. She is originally from Democratic Republic of the Congo, and now works as a credit associate at a company in Atlanta, Cooper said.
Since the three friends had connections to tailors who could make the clothing in Nigeria, Congo and Liberia, they set up a manufacturing agreement with them, Cooper said. That way, the clothing is made with traditional fabrics and brings more money in to local businesses in those countries. The tailors make the clothes in 10 different styles, using a variety of fabrics and patterns, to Dashiki Nations’ specifications.
“Our goal is to take the traditional African fashion and modernize it,” Cooper said. “We just look at what we already know from growing up in Africa and say, ‘Hey, how can we make this most suitable to this culture?’”
Cooper said the co-founders also want to highlight African fashion for people here in the U.S. and help them appreciate diversity.
“For us, we are interested in the fashion because we think it is about purpose; it shows that we are doing something bigger than us; it shows that even though we come from these (developing) countries, we know those people are struggling and we can do something to help them,” he said.
Dashiki Nations hopes to eventually expand to Asian fashions, as well.
Cooper said the fashion brand hopes to show its styles at Milwaukee Fashion Week in 2019, and host a booth at the NEWaukee Night Market. He is also working with Basia Rose Designs to sell Dashiki Nations clothing in its Milwaukee store.