Monrovia City is the home of just over 1 million people. Living in such a small city does not allow for many things to stay a secret, and it seems people find it almost impossible to keep chatter to a minimum. Whether people are talking about how horrible the food is at the new hot spot you have been dying to go to, or gossiping about whom they saw so and so with last night, one will find that there is always a hot topic of conversation on the Monrovia streets. While most people see this as negative there is one brand that is screaming “LET THEM TALK.”
Former Miss Liberia turned fashion designer Patrice Juah is the brain behind the clothing and accessories brand Moie. The name is short for the beauty queen’s Kpelle (a tribe in Liberia) name Daiemoie meaning “let them talk”. Juah admits to never having a true interest in fashion until she was ranked amongst the top 10 in the Miss World Pageant in 2006. Having been surrounded by all of the striking gowns in beautiful colors is where her ongoing love affair with fashion, style, and luxury began. The Mass Communications degree holder opened a small boutique in the heart of Monrovia in 2008. Though determined to make this endeavor a success she knew the only way to see her true potential shine through would be by attending design school. In 2010 was when she traveled to Ghana for a one year course at the Vogue Style School of Fashion and Design where she learned the arts of sewing and craftsmanship.
In 2011 Patrice returned to Liberia and that was when the label Moie was born. Although the road has been a long one, she admits that the only true challenge she has faced is trying to get her tailors to think outside of the box. She makes it her duty to have them move way from what they see everywhere else, and come up with creations that are exclusive. Working with a tailor that is willing to learn from her, and whom she is able to learn from is something that keeps her work fun and exciting. Moie’s signature accessory is the “ready-made head wrap”. This is a marvelous head piece that has elastic in the back to give the ability of fit all head sizes. She says to take the complexity out of figuring out the cutest or trendiest way to tie your head, all the work is done for you. All you have to do is put it on and be on your way.
When asked about her take on the increased visibility of African prints in the international fashion industry, she expresses her enthusiasm, but notes that we have to remember that though we as Africans were the ones who accepted, rocked, and modernized the prints, they are not traditionally ours. With prints that are usually found on the Ankara cloth being actually made in Asia and other parts of the non-African world, she states it is our duty to promote fashion that is made from African cotton like the “Country Cloth” seen in Liberia or the beads that are worn by the Zulu.
Since the beginning Patrice has always lived by the slogan “fashion with compassion”. Hence, always having a place in her heart for community service, Juah trains young girls in local communities how to make jewelry and head pieces. Through her trainings she stresses the importance of discipline, passion, and pride in order to bring forth a generation of young women that are empowered, independent, and self sufficient. Moie, a brand with a purpose, which prides itself in being bold, elegant, colorful, daring and always a topic of conversation.
Author: Chiquita A. Johnson
AFG Liberian Contributor