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Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Charifa?

I am a 23-year old self taught fashion designer. I sketch, make my own patterns and sew my own clothes. I am also a marketing student at uOttawa, and part of the Cameroonian national track and field team.

What is fashion to you? (How has your personal history influenced your views on fashion?)

Fashion to me is way to express yourself, it expresses your mood, your values, your taste and who you are as a person. It also shows if you’re a follower or a leader. It really speaks about the person you are.

What is the Tufafi brand, and when was it founded? 

Tufafi is a custom tailoring brand founded in 2014. It focuses on the confection of custom garments for special occasions such as proms, weddings, graduations and birthdays.

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What led to your involvement in the fashion industry, and ultimately the creation of Tufafi?

I spent part of my childhood in Cameroon where I was born. I was surrounded by tailor shops, and even my aunt who lived with us at the time had a sewing machine at home and made clothes.

Being in such an environment is exactly what peaked my interest for sewing in the first place and not so much for fashion right away. I always wanted to be able to make my own clothes and not look like everyone else. And to me that’s how you look like when you buy anything from a store. Once I learned how to sew, I started making my own outfits for events, and when I realized that people were interested in what I was doing, I decided to share my passion and talent by creating Tufafi.

Where (or from whom) do you draw your creative inspirations from, and how do you overcome creative blocks or get unstuck creatively?

I have always been interested in arts and making things on my mind come to life. That’s what really drove me to fashion. You really feel like nothing is impossible. There are so many combinations of fabric and techniques that you can do to make your idea come to life.

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What inspires your collections and choice of pieces?

I focus on creating custom garments, so the design really reflect how my clients see themselves the day of their big event. The theme of their event also helps direct the colors, shades and length of the garments. And from their personality, I can figure out which little touches to add in order to create an original piece.

How would you describe your pieces? Who do they appeal to?

My pieces appeal to women who are not afraid of standing out and bringing out their own personality into what they are wearing. That’s the beauty of custom designs, what ever you wear will almost 100% of the time make people say “This is so you,” which to me is a better compliment than “I like/love what you’re wearing.” I feel more authentic and true to myself, and that’s what makes me happy.

What interests you the most about female fashion, and what are some key wardrobe essentials? What would you say a good investment piece is? 

There are endless possibilities in women fashion. To me there are no restrictions and it’s so much more fun! We can play with all the colors, patterns and different materials. It’s all about taking risks and being innovative in your own way.

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The future of fashion, what are your thoughts on this; what type of changes will you like to see, and bring to your brand?

My morals and values are important to me, and it makes it hard for me to shop knowing that many brands violate human rights for the sake of fast fashion or profits. I wish more people would be aware of the brands they give their money to, and at least pay more attention to the ethics behind some companies.

Where do you see your brand going in coming years?
In the coming years, I see Tufafi becoming a big Fashion house in Ottawa, that will not only attract its own citizen but Fashion lovers from around the world.
I want my brand to inspire more youth to pursue a fashion career without having to move away because there are no big designers in our city. When I was in high school, I wanted to pursue a career in fashion but I didn’t know how to go about it. I looked for internships online, and the only fashion related opportunity I found was a volunteering position in Angie’s annual showcase. It was a great experience, but I did not really get learn more about the fashion industry. That to me was a limitation, and made it seem like a career in fashion was a “big dream,” almost impossible…
Fashion is not just about how you dress, or how you do your hair or makeup, it’s a big industry, it’s a big movement that our city has yet to exploit, explore, discover and embrace.
Is fashion as a whole a thriving entity in Ottawa? What can be done to persuade people to be more interested in fashion?
I think that our city has definitely become more interested in fashion, and I feel like it’s partly because of social media. People really just focus on the way they dress which is a good start, but I’m not exactly sure if the outcome is completely positive. A lot of younger girls, already the main target to poor self esteem are now exposed to these platforms that makes them compare themselves to which body type, hair or clothes are more appealing or trendy… Magazines have been bashed for years for for promoting an unrealistic ideal body type (the really slender figure). Now with social media, we are the ones in charge of telling the world what is beautiful with our likes and comments. This time it’s the more naked, very curvy girl. It’s still not realistic of our society … not every body looks like that. But it does not mean that their body or style is not #goals.
All this to say that we need to educate people on what fashion really is and on the power it has when it comes to persuading and controlling people’s minds. Not only in our city but in general. It’s one of the most powerful tools in the world to bring people together. Regarding Ottawa, I think that we just need more time for the city’s culture to change.
For more about Tufafi Fashion, check the brand out on their website, Facebook & Instagram.
Continue to see the creativity that exists in Ottawa like never before by following #PLExReveal & #RevealOttawa and let us know what you think! 😉

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