Picture: Gitas Portal)
Mariatu Turay braided hair to outlive when she was homeless and penniless after fleeing struggle-torn Sierra Leone on the age of 16.
Now she is outstanding in London's African group as an entrepreneur along with her personal vogue boutique and believes her story demonstrates that anybody can comply with their dream.
Turay was born in London, the daughter of a Sierra Leone authorities official.
However was raised in Freetown within the west African nation till being despatched to America along with her mom and brothers on the age of 16 when civil struggle was raging.
Homeless within the US, she fell again on the hair braiding talent she had discovered at college the place all the ladies needed to plait their hair.
Begging from work, she ended up in a hair salon, then discovered secretarial and workplace expertise so she may get company work.
Shifting again to London, she used her hairdressing expertise to pay her manner via school, incomes a level in economics, politics and public administration. Then she labored as a civil servant.
It was one other talent she had discovered throughout right here upbringing in Freetown, Sierra Leone, that gave Turay the impetus to turn into an entrepreneur, nonetheless.
Her mom had given her a hand-labored stitching machine when she was 11. Now she taught herself design.
The result's Gitas Portal, a London vogue model specializing in prepared-to-put on attire that includes African and Ankara wax prints.
The agency, which she arrange in 2011, opened a boutique in Deptford, South-East London, in 2016. It's aiming, she says, to be a celebration of its founder's Sierra Leone and Barbados heritage.
Blazing A Path
Now a married mom of 5, together with two step-youngsters, Turay desires the enterprise to emphasise how ladies ought to stand out, be daring and search to win in all areas of their lives.
"My household life and goals have been interrupted in a single day," she says.
"I went from having a very good life to having nothing. Nobody of their proper thoughts desires to be homeless and face the uncertainty of getting nothing.
"The trauma is on all ranges however I by no means misplaced my manner on the most difficult of occasions. I at all times knew that with exhausting work and kindness I might make it."
Named after an acronym for "God Is Really Wonderful," Gitas Portal units out to be an inexpensive, mid-market, luxurious model that's identified for stylish, female cuts and a artistic use of West African textiles in stunning elegant kinds.
A Shiny Imaginative and prescient
Its motto – "Be Daring, Win, Put on Shade" is for ladies who is unapologetic about her magnificence and categorical their type with confidence.
As a self-taught designer-maker, Turay’s purpose is to set a benchmark for African-inspired vogue items, selling high quality, stunning and properly-made designs that can problem and stability perceptions about Africa.
She says she sees vogue as each a novel expression of particular person aptitude and the emancipation of 1's interior magnificence. and believes her story demonstrates how. regardless of life’s turmoil, anybody could make their goals come true.
Deptford is an unlikely breeding floor for retail entrepreneurs or feminine vogue icons.
But, Gitas Portal is exhibiting that the style world stays open to various and artistic entrepreneurial expertise.