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From A Cleaner to Owner Of Sierra Leone’s Biggest Clothing Brand Called Izelia: The True Life Story Of Madam Isatu Harrison

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Isatu Harrison
From A Cleaner to Owner Of Sierra Leone’s Biggest Clothing Brand Called Izelia: The True Life Story Of Madam Isatu Harrison

Madam Isatu Harrison is a Sierra Leonean Fashion Designer, creative director, entrepreneur, and founder of the IZELIA Brand. Born in the Eastern town of Kono, Sierra Leone Madam Isatu Harrison was raised by her entrepreneurial single mother with her 3 siblings. Whilst living in Kono, civil war broke out which put her community in danger. Her entire family had to escape from the civil war in Kono and moved to the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown.

From A Cleaner to Owner Of Sierra Leone’s Biggest Clothing Brand Called Izelia: The True Life Story Of Madam Isatu Harrison

Despite being uprooted from her family home, Madam Isatu had a happy upbringing and knew that there was much more to Sierra Leone than the war which seemed to define it at the time. She grew up watching her mother design outfits for herself and others using traditional West African tie-dyed prints. In a country with no welfare system, Isatu’s mother worked hard to ensure that her family did not have to struggle and Isatu hails her mother as her biggest inspiration and influence. Despite there being very few opportunities, particularly within the fashion industry in Sierra Leone, Isatu was encouraged to pursue her purpose and developed her gifts as a fashion designer.

Although her passion for fashion was still at the forefront of her mind, when Isatu arrived in The UK in 2001 she studied for a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at South Bank University and subsequently an MBA.  The corporate world overshadowed the creative world and Isatu undertook several management roles in HR within the private and public sectors – including Transport for London.

After starting a family with her husband, and having a daughter who now has a budding career in modeling, Isatu could no longer ignore her true calling; fashion. She invested her savings and started her fashion label, Izelia which interweaves the two cultural landscapes of Britain and Sierra Leone.

Isatu officially launched Izelia at Africa Fashion Week in August 2014 and London Fashion Week in the same year. By drawing from her Sierra Leonean heritage Isatu has created a modern and sophisticated range of ready-to-wear pieces. Izelia is a brand for those who want to make an impression in stylish and colorful outfits with high-quality fabrics and structured tailoring. Each piece features a new twist on African-inspired fashion and Isatu’s signature style of design.

By combining colorful African tie-dye and prints, Izelia brings a taste of Sierra Leone to the British high street. Having seen the impact that civil war can make on communities, Isatu wants to be at the forefront of a new generation of ‘AfriCapitalists’ – African entrepreneurs driving growth, awareness, and development in Africa, through marketing and selling the best that Africa has to offer

In 2016, Isatu Harrison got a breakthrough when her dress worn by the policy adviser for the royal college of midway free. She was going to receive her MBA for her work towards Female Genital Mutilation. . She was contacted to do her outfit to go see the queen, she wanted an African outfit that looks contemporary. Isatu Harrison was inspired by the fact that the out-of-fit was used. I cannot tell you my excitement, having someone wore my piece to go to the Royal palace, it was a big deal for me” she told BBC Focus on Africa.

Madam Isatu Harrison recently launched one of the country’s largest clothing factories called “Izelia Clothing Factory. “The factory has employed 37 core staff who are mainly youth thereby providing employment opportunity to them for a new source of livelihood.

Madam Isatu Harrison recently launched one of the country’s largest clothing factories called “Izelia Clothing Factory. “The factory has employed 37 core staff who are mainly youth thereby providing employment opportunity to them for a new source of livelihood.

The  Izelia Clothing Factory has been showcased on many international platforms especially in the UK. Madam Harrison in her statement said “it has been a long and tough journey but it’s a dream come true and I’m happy to have this factory in my country.’

The Commissioner for the National Youth Commission, Ngolo Katta applauded the initiative which he said aligns with the government’s human capital development drive. He pledges the Youth Sector’s fullest support in working with Izelia for providing jobs for youth through skills training.

 

 

Sallu Kamuskay

Sallu Kamuskay is a Sierra Leonean activist, storyteller, and blogger. He was born in Sierra Leone but later relocated to Guinea as a refugee because of the war in his country. Sallu Kamuskay uses his phone to engage on social media, under the name ‘’Salone Messenger’. He Co-Founded the Salone Messenger platform after his experience of the war, Ebola, and injustices. According to him, silence was the root cause of war, and of many social injustices, we continue to face as a nation. In 2013, during the Ebola crisis, Sallu Kamuskay took the risk and volunteered to fight Ebola. He spent some months in both safe and unsafe places; helping the victims and telling their sad stories. The election in 2018, left a divided country with communities fighting on tribal lines. This inspired Sallu Kamuskay to serve as the coordinator of the United Sierra Leone peace concert, which was organized in 4 major parts of the country, targeting violent communities and troubled youth. Sallu Kamuskay led a group of entertainers, activists, and organizations across the country on a peace tour, a program supported by the European Union, United Sierra Leone, Africa Union, ECOWAS, and the Messeh Leone Trust. Sallu Kamuakay has also served as a staff writer for the Hidden Voices Magazine.
Over the years, Sallu Kamuskay has been using his Techno phone to be able to tell stories, the phone he used to tell the story of Gbessay during Ebola who was admitted at one of the Ebola treatment centers after rumors that she had Ebola when the actual sickness was ulcer, she was almost abandoned at the treatment canter with no medication provided to her. She could have died. Sallu told the story via social media and was able to secure funding from the United Sierra Leone to buy her medication and advocated for her. She was later discharged and taken home, He did the same to a patient that died and was abandoned in the street, Sallu Kamuskay used his phone and shared the message across, the corps was later taken and buried. It could have been more disaster without his voice. The story of late America Stress 3-year-old daughter. The hero’s daughter was abandon after his father's death. He shared her sad story and was able to get a sister who has taken the child as her own and is currently providing her with educational support. The article of America Stress can be read on the link below http://ayvnewspaper.com/index.php/k2-categories/item/7350-america-stress-a-hero-to-recognize.
Sallu Kamuskay feels the stories of Gbessay, America stress and that of many others need to be told. The media house we have cannot better tell these stories, they are better reporters than telling human interest stories. He created the Salone Messenger platform and brought together passionate storytellers to be able to tell these compelling stories.

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