In this episode of LIB Life special coverage to women in the creative sector, we open up with Letia Assa Bates, whose love for quality fashion wear compelled her to open a boutique that offers classical couture and cosmetic products. But behind the newly established business is a true fashion entrepreneur.
After graduating from B. W. Harris Episcopal High School in 1980, a few years later Letia ventured into fashion, firstly by beginning to design her own clothes in African styles.
As she improved on a daily basis, she would design a nice piece and give it to someone in exchange for their opinion. Soon she was designing pieces for pageants such as ‘Discovering Liberia’s Next Top Models.’
Letia always dreamed of venturing into the fashion business, but work and school did not permit her.
“From [a young age], I developed a strong love for fashion; and I knew that one day, I was going to open a fashion line that attracts women and men of all ages. I’m happy that I’m living my youth dream as a fashion entrepreneur,” Bates told LIB Life.
After five years of studying the market potential and its need for quality fashion lines that offer a variety of products , Letia was finally able to realize her long awaited dream with the opening of L & T Health and Beauty Center. The boutique is located opposite Dominion Church in Congo Town.
“Opening the boutique was not the problem,” Ms. Bates explained. “But having a line that offered health and beauty supplies, quality shoes and evening bags, designer dresses as well as accessories for both genders was my goal.”
Although her boutique offers classy products of superior quality, she admitted that attracting the right customer and competing with counterfeit merchandise remain major problems.
“I’m getting there little by little. I know it will take time; but as an entrepreneur, it is you that create the strategies that will attract customers. Even though we just opened, we are getting costumers and they are also spreading the word. If our products were not classy and original, they would not have spread the word about our products.
“This is about the Liberian people enjoying the experience of health and beauty products in every way. Our products are originally developed and designed, along with the original brand identity,” Ms. Bates noted.
A native of Liberia from Maryland County, she grew up with a single mother after the death of her father at a tender age. Bates said she was fortunate not to have to go through the struggles other children of her age did.
“My mother, being a nurse, was working two jobs to support her seven kids. Being the last of my mother seven kids I’ve learned how to become the strong and successful woman that have become today. My mother always made sure that her children came first.”
Bates holds two Master Degrees, one in Computer Science, and the other in International Business Administration.