Fashion Designer from Central African Republic Opens Facility in Kigali | The new time
OLGA NGANZI SAMBA-PANZA, a renowned fashion designer in the Central African Republic, opened her fashion house “O’poma Designs” in Kigali last weekend.
O’poma has been in business for 20 years and Nganzi, the fashion house‘s founder, thought Rwanda would be her next market when she discovered that her fashion products appealed to Rwandan tastes in design.
“O’Poma has been around for years and I want it to grow beyond the borders,” Nganzi said in an interview with The New Times.
The name of her fashion house O’Poma is inspired by the names of the designer herself, her husband, her daughter and her mother.
some of the designs on display at ‘O’Pama Designs’. Photos courtesy
“The ‘O’ stands for me, Olga, and my husband Odilan. Poma is the name of my mother and my lastborn daughter. That’s how I came across O’Poma,” she explained.
At ‘O’ Poma’, fashion enthusiasts are guided to a variety of creations in African fabrics for men, women and children, from dresses to shirts to be worn at corporate events, tops of all sizes and jewellery.
To give it a Made in Rwanda touch, Nganzi hired a local tailor associated with locally made fashion products to successfully dominate the local market and help her grow “O’Poma” into a hip fashion house to do in Kigali.
Rwanda is perhaps Nganzi’s second country to open stores after the Central African Republic, but her designs have been praised by her regular customers outside of Africa as she now exports her products to the United States and various countries in Europe such as France and Switzerland.
Nganzi describes the love that people continue to show their designs as “amazing”, which also motivates her to improve and bring the best she can to her customers.
“I won’t say my collections are the best, but I’m almost there. I’m trying to make better designs as I continue to grow,” she said.
The idea of bringing ‘O’Poma’ to Rwanda was born in 2019 when the designer presented her first project in Rwanda during International Women’s Day on March 8th, 2019, after training seamstresses in Kimironko, where she currently resides, for a few months .
After taking over the market in her home country, Nganzi took on a new challenge to introduce her designs to Rwanda. She opened offices in the country, which is home to a fashion industry she admires and is willing to explore and grow.
“The Rwandan fashion industry is doing well and I am here and proud to be part of the journey in which I look forward to contributing and sharing experiences as African designers,” she said.
The fashion house opens at a time when Rwanda is hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which has attracted over 5000 delegates from 54 Commonwealth member countries.
Despite being from a French-speaking country, the mother-of-three said it would be a privilege to welcome delegates to her shop and enjoy the beast of African couture.
“I’m francophone, but business knows no borders. I want to invite delegates to my fashion house and discover the best collections in my fashion house. English will not be a barrier to communication at all because fashion can speak,” she said.
Every fabric featured at O’Poma Designs is African couture, with kitenge being the main material.
“My creations are African fabrics because I am African and I love Africa. I use kitenge because we don’t need to import raw materials from Europe, but we have our very own ‘kitenge’ with us,” she said.
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