Local Fashion Designer Combines Fashion and Compassion
Jan 29, 2017 08:55PM
● By Erin Lehn Floresca
When local entrepreneur Fatim Bahh, founder of Fatim Bahh women’s clothing company and cofounder of the One Girl at a Time Foundation, began her fashion career in 2004, she knew that she wanted to combine her two passions—fashion and social consciousness—into one venture. Originally born and raised in Guinea, West Africa, Bahh has always felt a strong connection to her West African roots. “I felt extremely fortunate to be able to come to America when I was a young girl, so naturally, my homeland is one of the places I wanted to give back to,” says this fashion designer whose brand contributes 10 percent of the proceeds from every clothing purchase to an education fund for their sister company, the One Girl at a Time Foundation.
Bahh stayed true to her heart when she designed her clothing brand as a socially conscious line to “help young girls get access to primary education in Guinea, West Africa, and to help women in the rural areas of Guinea showcase their artisanal skills to the contemporary market place and be financially independent.”
When she became a U.S. citizen, Bahh acquired a passport so she could return to Guinea. When she arrived, she discovered that much had not changed since she’d left. “Financial conditions for women are some of the most challenging. Too many families are living in extreme poverty,” she explains. “Education is the key to breaking that cycle of poverty.”
Bahh began by sponsoring three nine-year-old girls. She checked in regularly on the girls, hoping that her contributions were helping to improve their lives. “Those three girls were doing amazing. Their lives had been transformed; their families were so happy and proud of them. What I loved was seeing the parental and community support for these girls,” says Bahh, who shares that her foundation is now able to sponsor 10 girls, with a mission of sponsoring 30 girls by the end of the year. Meanwhile, she continues working with women artisans to obtain the beautiful handwoven fabrics for her collections.
Bahh says it all comes down to really connecting with the community and she is rebuilding her brand to reflect that spirit. “We have so much going on right now. In addition to many fundraising events—including an upcoming fashion show—our spring collection is being finalized. I’ll also be heading back to Guinea in a few weeks where I’ll get a chance to connect with the First Lady of Guinea, who is completely on board with our foundation’s efforts.”
Bahh credits a lot of her company’s success and growth to her amazingly talented team. “From my production team in Los Angeles, to the marketing team and everybody in between, we’ve been able to do more and move faster than I ever thought was possible. We have lots of good energy and so many wonderful things to look forward to in our future,” she says.