Meet the Woman Trying to Resuscitate Liberia’s Dormant Fashion Industry

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Runway Liberia founder Junda Morris-Kennedy: "I knew there was a challenge, but I was ready for the leap and this while I decided to take the risk and make the difference and now it is working."

The fashion industry in Liberia has experienced lots of hurdles ranging from little or no growth in the sector to lots of copycat fashion designers.

Over the years, events by fashion entrepreneurs which were meant to strengthen the industry did not survive to live up to their objectives, mostly due to low return on investment in the industry.

Despite these red lines, the situation has not deterred US based Liberian-American fashion promoter Junda Morris-Kennedy from investing in the sector.

“I knew there was a challenge, but I was ready for the leap and this why I decided to take the risk and make the difference and now it is working,” she said. “My dream is to use the runway to create global visibility for Liberian fashion designs, boost innovation among local fashion designers and to create jobs for people.”

A week ago, Mrs. Morris-Kennedy an ambitious entrepreneur, broke odds to organize one of the most successful fashion runway fashion events ever in Liberia, featuring more than fifteen fashion designers both locally and internationally.

The event, Runway Liberia, which began in Baltimore, Maryland, where it was hosted for three annual editions and held it second event in Liberia last week, is the biggest fashion event currently dedicated for the promotion of Liberian’s fashion brand.

According to the Runway Liberia founder, the event came after noticing that Liberian fashion designers were not much a lot in the African fashion industry. To change that trend, she said she felt inspired to establish the event.

Since then, the event has exposed emerging and professional Liberian designers to fashion business models, innovating new brands instead of copying, and connecting with foreign designers and shows.

“I am ready to do whatever it takes to build the fashion industry in Liberia, create more jobs, contribute to the economy, and increase the standard of living,” Mrs. Morris-Kennedy explained.

Runway Liberia, now in its fifth year, has gone on to be a platform that features some of the biggest names in the African fashion industry like Papa Ngala of Senegal and Chris Collins, a Liberian fashion designer who has designed for former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The fashion promoter added: ”I am proud of what the platform has achieved over the last five years in Liberia and the USA. The event, which started as a little event five years ago, is now providing a platform for designers, most especially emerging designers in Liberia to showcase to a global audience of fashion enthusiasts, international media and visitors, and attendees.”

African Fashion industry, which is a multi-million dollar industry, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB), has seen less participation from Liberia brands; thereby hurting the industry’s ability to generate needed foreign cash.

Mrs. Kennedy explained that despite the monetary size of the Africa fashion industry, Liberia is still far behind and not benefiting enough, a situation which needs to be changed.

“Liberia’s fashion industry is far behind its African counterparts, but we are working to change the situation. At least, we are now seeing some level of success in the industry, and that is good. We are getting there gradually,” she noted.

Today, due to Mrs. Kennedy’s passion and love for Liberia’s fashion, she has received several honors including being named the official representative for World Fashion Week (WFW) in Liberia, and ‘Fashion Icon Facilitator from ECOWAS Fashion Week.

The event last week was covered by African Fashion TV, Studio 24, Glamour Magazine, all fromNigeria and Deamina Magazines and Italy.

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