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.
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.
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.
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?
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.