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Monday, August 12, 2013

BOSSCHIQUE(ism) Introducing Ms. Patrice Juah of Moie Designs, Liberia



I met Ms. Juah in New York City at a young professionals mixer and immediately drew a liking to her energy. She was vibrant, funny and talked a lot about her love for young African people. We exchanged information as she was headed back to the continent but we have always kept in touch since. I have since then followed this amazing young woman on her journey and loved every moment of her success and accomplishments. Needless to say she is a beauty, classy, humble, proud woman and of course a Bosschique! After highlight some of our Sierra Leonean Bosschique's we wanted to pay hommage to our sister country in this issue, being Liberia. We hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did.

So more about Ms. Juah, Patrice Juah was born and raised in Liberia, but spent a part her childhood growing up in Cote D’Ivoire. The youngest of 5 siblings, she’s a graduate of the African Methodist Episcopal, with a BA degree in Mass Communications and holds an Advanced Certificate in Fashion & Apparel Design from the Vogue Style School of Fashion & Design and a Certificate in Cosmetology from Alloette Institute of Cosmetology in Accra, Ghana respectively.  At the age of 16, she became the youngest member of the Liberia Association of Writers, after winning  the National Poetry Competition with her poem : “Education, I cherish You! Patrice is a Fashion Designer, Writer, Journalist, Girls Education Advocate and an Activist advocating for an end to Violence against Women. She is also the Founder of Martha Juah Educational Charity, which she established in honor of her mother, who was a primary school teacher for 30 + years. The charity advocates for scholarships for girls in rural Liberia to go to school. She also started Liberia’s first education pageant, Miss Education Awareness Pageant, with the theme“Beauty with Brains”, to encourage young girls to go to school and stay in school. All of the contestants of the pageant receive scholarships and are certificated as Education Ambassadors. She won the coveted Miss Liberia title in 2006 and represented Liberia at the 56th Miss World Beauty Pageant, held in Warsaw, Poland where she ranked amongst the Top Ten Finalists in the Miss World Talent Competition. She was recently asked by the UNFPA to write a poem in honor of the survivors of Obstetric Fistula at the 1st International Day to End Obstetric Fistula. She owns and runs the uber-chic and colorful label, Moie meaning "Let them talk" in her ethnic language Kpelle. Moie is fast becoming Liberia’s go to place for things authentic and unique, and becoming appealing to the international chic woman. Ladies and gentlemen grab your wine and cheese and we hope you enjoy reading about this amazing woman Ms. Patrice Juah.


                                                                 
ON  PATRICE THE WOMAN




Q: Who is Patrice in one word?

A: DYNAMIC

Q: So you are Liberian? Where you are currently based and tell us a bit about who you are and how you decided to go into fashion?

A: Yes, I’m proudly Liberian and I live in Liberia’s Capital, Monrovia. I’m the youngest of 5 siblings and have always had interest in the arts from a young age. I started writing short stories and poems when I was 10 years old and was fascinated by beautiful flowers, so I would draw them all over my note books, while in school.
I grew up admiring my oldest sister, Rita who is also an art-lover. I would watch her sew and do interior d├ęcor and was completely blown away by how she dressed and carried herself. Spending a part of my childhood in Cote D’Ivoire, where there were beautiful fabrics and classy women to watch all paved the way for the artist that I am today. Writing and Journalism are actually my first love. Before I even dreamt of becoming a Fashion designer, I had always wanted to become a Writer and a Journalist. I’ve written about a 100 poems and am currently working on getting them published. As a child, I participated in the National Poetry Competition and won with a poem I wrote, called “Education, I Cherish You” and became the youngest member of the Liberia Association of Writers at the time. I was also a Child Broadcaster at some point and have had some radio presence. Fashion, I guess was in the midst of all of this creativity and waiting for something to bring it out . The motivation really came though, when I won the Miss Liberia pageant and went to Miss World.  Seeing glamorous dresses from all over the world deeply inspired me to bring that side of me out. In short, I’m a multi-talented woman with wide and varied interests. You might catch me on your screens soon…watch this space.lol


Q: lol watch this space I like that. So tell me you were Miss Liberia at some point? Do tell us a bit about how that came about and what you learned from that experience?

A: Yes, I was and it was an amazing experience that I’ll always cherish. I went from being a simple, “not-so-known college girl, to the nation’s queen.  The title immediately thrust me into the spotlight, where I became an admired personality and an object of public scrutiny.
With the help of God and my family, my reign was a remarkable one. I represent Liberia at Miss World 2006 in Warsaw, Poland and ranked amongst the Top Ten Finalists in the Miss World Talent Contest. I use my title to champion various charitable causes and impact the lives of young woman positively in Liberia. What I took away from the experience is that humility, preparation and focus are key elements for success. When you’re humble and focused, so many things are possible. I’m a very humble person. I plan on staying that way  in spite of what  I achieve in life.


Q: You are so proud of your cultural heritage, and you find ways to include it within your art. Tell us about your cultural background and what inspires you to include it within your designs. Most importantly, what importance do you think it has in your community at large?

A: You know, Liberia has always been looked at as a nation deeply rooted in American culture, but the funny thing is that though liberal, we’re also traditional Africans. Liberia had indigenous people before the settlers discovered the land in 1822. We’re a nation of mixed heritage, but our cultural side is often ignored. Liberia has 16 counties and 15 tribes/dialects, with English being the official language of the country. My goal is to showcase the rich culture of my country through my designs. I’m from the Kpelle tribe, which is the largest ethnic group in Liberia.  That’s why the pieces we make at Moie are so colorful and vibrant. The name Moie, is also a Kpelle name, which is the short form of my Kpelle name(Daiemoie), which means “LET THEM TALK”.  So, the whole idea is the make the woman stand out and have people talking, in a good way of course. The Kpelle people are very friendly and hospitable and it’s widely known in Liberia that we love the color RED. My Kpelle roots inspire me deeply, and contain a magical spark that drives my creativity. A part of my goal also, is to get Liberia to a point where it’s known for many other things other than the war.

Q: What is one thing you enjoy doing and how do you take time for yourself?

A: I love Writing and really never make time for it, because it’s something that comes naturally.  When I feel like I need to express myself and overcome something, I pour my heart out into my writing. I’m also an avid reader and often sleep with my books in the same bed at night. I love sketching and acting, also. Mmmm…I love cooking and am a big homebody.


ON FASHION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP





Q: So you have this wonderful fashion label called Moie. Tell us more about how Moie came about and what customers can expect to get from your products?

A: Moie is the short form of my Kpelle name, Daiemoie which means “Let Them Talk”.
It is fashion for the bold, classy and elegant, and those who dare to stand out. The pieces are vibrant and colorful, with a Liberian, African and contemporary feel. Our products are geared towards bringing out the queen sometimes hidden in every woman. When wearing any of our pieces, one is bound to turn heads and have people talking. Very often, we see women trying to imitate each other; Moie was born from my passion of wanting to see  something different on women and that woman who’s confident enough to define her own style.

Q: Please share with us what a typical day looks like for you in your work and tell us the many hats you wear as a woman?

A: I’m a very busy woman with no social life. I’m very ambitious (though not obsessed with my ambition) and goal-oriented. I’m constantly working to improve myself and my passions.
I currently run my fashion business, Moie, serve as the Media Relations Manager for Cellcom Telecommunications Inc., A Writer (currently writing 3 books), a Motivational Speaker, Radio Personality. I am still  working on so many other things that’ll interest you all, but am keeping hush, hush about them for now (smiles). 


Q: You were recently chosen to represent Liberia in Paris France at the African Fashion Reception a prestigious fashion show tell us about that experience and how you felt to represent your country?

A: I was beyond humbled and excited when I heard the news. That was something I had always dreamt of, but had no idea it would happen so quickly. It was a great way to showcase the beautiful and rich culture of my dear country, Liberia to the world. It created an awesome platform for my business and has motivated me to keep dreaming, reaching for the stars and working hard. I’m one woman who does not look at my location as a limitation in life, I’m an out-of-the-box thinker. I constantly tell myself that if people in other parts of the world can do it, so can I.


Q: What’s next for Moie? And where do you see your brand 10 years from now?

A: Moie will continue to grow and grow. I foresee the brand becoming one of the continent’s premier fashion luxury brands.
ON AFRICAN WOMEN

Q: Are you involved in any community related activities that empower young African and Liberian women and girls through your work?

A: Yes, I am. One of Moie’s core responsibilities is to empower young women through fashion and apparel design. We’ve started teaching young women, particularly single mothers, how to make accessories, with time and access to more capital, We intend to expand our training and incorporate more young women who’d also learn several other skills.  The business is funded entirely by me, so you can imagine how tough that can be. My vision remains clear, regardless. Some of my charity organizations include 
The Martha Juah Educational Charity, named in honor of my mother, to advocate for scholarships for girls in rural Liberia
The Miss Education Pageant
I am an Activist to end Violence against women
I am also Motivational Speaker for young people

Q: If you were to invited to design for 3 African women who would it be and why?
A: I would design for:

1. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf : Liberia’s current president & Africa’s 1st female              president – she is a very beautiful and powerful woman, who dresses her age. We got to behold the gem that she is in her old age, so I’d like to design something that give us a peek at what she looked like when she was young.

2. Sudanese model, Alek Wek– Her skin is black gold…if there’s anything like that. :) Moie’s  pieces against her beautiful skin will create such a great contrast and a sight to behold.
          
3. Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe of South Africa – She’s a true Renaissance woman, whom I admire dearly. I’ve been following up on her work for some time now and like how she joggles her career as a Medical Doctor, wife, mother, and businesswoman and still maintains a fashionable lifestyle. She is so open to color and authenticity and that’s exactly what Moie stands for. I’d dressed her with my eyes closed any day!

Q: Finish the sentence “Women Change Africa because…?”
A: They are strong.

For More on Miss Juah visit her Facebook Page at 

https://www.facebook.com/moieclothiersandaccessories

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