Student sets up the UK's first African print bikini range from her university digs
A student has set up the UK's first African print bikini line from the living room of her student digs at Loughborough University, and her debut range is already a sellout.
Jessica Bema Asare, 19, was born in Milton Keynes and moved to Ghana when she was seven, returning to the UK in 2015 to study Computing and Management.
Using money awarded by her university for topping her course academically in the first year, she decided to set up a business that would combine her love of fashion with promoting prints from Africa to the UK and rest of the world.
'Moving to Ghana and attending a very Pro-African secondary school made me appreciate my culture and relate to my Ghanaian Name Bema more,' she told FEMAIL.
'Most Ghanaians and Africans only tend to wear their cultural prints on special occasions. I wanted to make an item of clothing where we could wear our prints casually, like when we are lying on a beach so bikinis seemed like a perfect idea.'
When she wasn’t pulling all-nighters programming lines of code or running her department, Jessica spent her second year crafting the designs and prints to make UK’s first swim-proof African swimwear line.
Her first batch of stock, which includes XL sizes for curvier women, sold out within the first week and she had to make post office runs twice a day to ensure she was keeping her customers happy.
Jessica's dream is to encourage younger women, especially women of color to go into business and also to not be afraid to embrace and promote their culture.
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Jessica Bema Asare, 19, who grew up between Ghana and the UK
has set up the UK's first African print bikini brand, which also caters for
curvy women, from her student digs
Bema Republic features kente print, a traditional Ghanaian fabric print worn by royalty in the 1800s
Jessica's bikinis are designed in kente print, a traditional Ghanaian fabric print, which dates back to the 1800s when it was worn by royalty.
Jessica has always had a passion for fashion, influenced by her mother.