By Robert Serge Saint-Pé
From her famous clothing line to opening a foundation for less fortunate single mothers and young girls, it’s hard to say for sure how many Laurice Monsio Saba products you have probably seen without even knowing it.
In 2003, Monsio began her fashion career at the rehabilitation center for young girls, Maryann Cheeseman School of Art & Design which was operated by the United Nations in Liberia. There she studied fashion design and graduated top of her class.
With a 12-year experience in the fashion industry, she has proven herself to be a savvy businesswoman with creative vision in designs and color patterns that have brought forth clientele including radio personality, Master Queen, Nigerian-American Musician and Actor Rotimi, the President of Liberia, George Manneh Weah, as well as the first lady of Sierra Leone, Fatima Maada Bio, amongst others.
Monsio has transcended from some tough circumstances to rise up as her name in Kru means, “above all”. As a native of Maryland County, Monsio comes from a mixed Lebanese and Kru, while her mother is a Grebo woman.
She created the Sorayah Laurice Fashion House in March 2008 to revolutionize the Liberian Fashion Industry. During that period, a lot of potential customers thought Monsio and Laurice were two different personalities, so to avoid conflict she rebranded the store as Monsio Couture. Her fashion designs have remained one of the strongest forces in the Liberian fashion industry and have since gained outstanding recognition.
In the past, Monsio has worked with the C.E.O of Runway Liberia International, Junda Morris-Kennedy, in showcasing her designs, and also worked with Ghanaian fashion runways where she received some international recognition. Even at that, she feels like her designs need to be shown and accepted globally. She aims to open a large fashion factory that would empower lots of women while strengthening her brand’s international footprint.
Monsio appears to have been pre-destined for fashion as even her grandparents were tailors. If she did not turn out as a designer, she probably would have been a wholesale distributor of fabrics. Her mother also contributed solely towards Monsio Couture, but had dreams of her daughter pursuing a more academic direction in life.
However, Monsio’s passion has always been sewing and traveling, but after the Liberian civil war her mother could not afford to send her abroad for studies, so she was instead enrolled into the Mary Anne Cheeseman School of Art. She graduated at the top of her class and has since made a name for herself in Liberia’s fashion industry.
She is the mastermind behind all of her designs, color patterns, and sees herself as a strong businesswoman. The daily activities of an everyday woman is a key source of her inspiration. Monsio always uses opportunities to make something happen during the worst times, and as a result, she was given separate contracts by the President of Liberia, George Manneh Weah, and First Lady, Clar Marie Weah to make huge quantities of corona-virus masks during the height of the pandemic.
Every business person has a challenging story, and for Monsio the 2014 Ebola epidemic was one of her most difficult times. As the economy took a nosedive, and nobody was buying clothes like they would during normal activities. Many of her tailors left and, even with the crisis, she still had to pay rent. She later relocated her boutique from Camp Johnson Road to her family’s perperty.
There, she started sewing on the porch with two tailors, and after a year she was able to get a new place. Monsio now has over 30 plus workers and is enlarging her brand more than ever before.
Monsio takes pride in her work. Her form-fitting clothes are labeled and worn by many local celebrities, public figures, and a few prominent figures from in and outside of Liberia. Over the years, her clothing line has been booming, so she recently opened a foundation as a means of helping less fortunate single mothers and young girls to build themselves up in the harshness of the Liberian economy.
The Monsio Foundation is a non-profit organization established to create a self-sustaining generation of young women, most especially single mothers through skills training. The foundation will provide vocational training activities, namely: tailoring, design garment, cosmetology, catering, tie-dying, soap making, arts and crafts, baking, interior decoration, beauty therapy, fashion design and drafting, amongst other things.
Thirty women will be trained for a six-month period, with the first three months used for theory and the remaining three months for practical. The beneficiaries of the foundation would individually receive sewing machines, twenty pieces of lappa, smartphones, and a sum of twenty thousand Liberian dollars to start their own small businesses.
Apart from the six-month training, the participants will also receive a month of entrepreneurship training to manage their businesses. Skills training of the foundation are set to commence in January 2021, and will also provide a scouting opportunity for the Monsio Couture fashion house.
Monsio Couture is a line built on her boldness, audacity, creativity, hard work, and passion as her signature aesthetic of classic designs appeals to both men and women. She wishes for many women to be consistent, passionate, and mind driven for their careers and not work simply because of money.
Monsio Couture will also host its 4th yearly event of appreciation for its devoted and loyal customers. The annual festival usually gives discounts on clothes and provides refreshments. The 2020 event is scheduled for December 27th and will commence at 3 pm at her head boutique located just off the Rehab Junction in the ELWA community. Her second fashion house is on 1st Street Sinkor, adjacent the Monrovia City Hall.