Saskatchewan

From doll dresses to the runway: Nigerian-born designer launches first collection at Sask. Fashion Week

After moving from Nigeria and getting her degree in computer science, one woman is following her dream and launching her first collection tonight at Saskatchewan Fashion Week.

Dream of fashion design started with grandmother's teachings

Firdausi Yusuf is debuting her first ever fashion collection at Sask Fashion Week in Regina. (Submitted by Firdausi Yusuf.)

Firdausi Yusuf's first fashion designs were for her dolls. She was five years old, living in her home country of Nigeria.

By the time she was in high school she was designing outfits for her friends. Now, Yusuf is launching her first collection at Saskatchewan Fashion Week.

 
Firdausi Yusuf said her grandmother had a huge influence on her love of fashion.

"My grandmother had a tailoring design studio where she used to teach, and she used to babysit us," Yusuf said. "She pretty much groomed me." 

At first her grandmother set her up with a needle and thread. As Yusuf grew older she moved on to a sewing maching.

"She'll tell me 'You know what, that sleeve wan't sewn properly, if I was doing, I would put it this way. Why is that measurement a little bit off? You should take it down one inch.' " Yusuf said.

At 16, Yusuf moved from Nigeria to Canada to join her cousins in Ontario. She went on to study Computer Science, graduating from Brandon University in 2014.

It was a lot different from fashion.

I'm pretty sure if she could be here, she would be the first one in, the first of the line screaming and shouting.- Firdausi Yusuf, on her grandmother

"According to my family, fashion is not a career. So I had to do something to get them off my back and say 'Okay, I have this degree, here it is, this is for you. Now I'm going to do something for me.' " she said.

Yusuf describes her collection as "unique, vibrant, sexy, different. If, you know, you don’t want something that everyone else has." The Amina Skirt, pictured, is named after her aunt. (Submitted by Firdausi Yusuf)

Yusuf works as a financial advisor at a bank in Regina. She said balancing working full time and spending hours on fashion was the biggest challenge in launching her collection.

"Because of fashion week especially, it's becoming a lot more, like I rarely get to sleep," she said. "I have to, you know, spend eight hours here, go back home and you're spending at least eight hours on yourself as well and my fashion. So it is a lot."

Yusuf said her grandmother is excited for the launch and wishes she could be in Canada to see it.

"I'm pretty sure if she could be here, she would be the first one in, the first of the line screaming and shouting."

With Files from CBC Saskatchewan's Morning Edition