How our kids see themselves matters.
I am not of African descent but the three little people (and one really big one) I love the most are: my lovely children Victoria, Maximilian, Frederick and my husband Folarin. I am originally from Germany and my husband is from Nigeria and together with our kids we live in beautiful South West London.
It was always important to me that my kids, whilst growing up in Europe, would still be able to celebrate their African heritage. During my numerous visits to family in Nigeria (with and without my husband) I was touched by the use of patterns to communicate familial connections and to show a visible sign of support in times of both celebration and loss. When my daughter was born, I started looking into clothes that would celebrate African culture and connect her to her wider family.
I discovered that most pieces are made from typical Ankara fabrics. These fabrics are beautiful, vibrant and colourful but they’re often quite stiff because of the wax printing process with no stretch to them. I found that there was a gap in the market for African inspired kids clothes made from soft, stretchy cotton fabrics in styles that were fun and comfortable to wear for kids and didn’t look out of place when worn in Europe. It inspired me to find ways of producing a small range primarily for my own children and wider family.
So I began making my own pieces: little dresses, bloomers, tops and accessories: combining soft cotton materials with Ankara fabrics that family would bring back from Nigeria.
One Sunday afternoon my husband, daughter and I went to the home of two of my husband’s oldest and dearest friends (James and Danielle) for lunch. I told them about my idea of African- inspired kids clothes. James (a brand strategy and design expert) was really interested in my story and was impressed that I’d started “making something” because, as he put it, “everyone has ideas but few actually do anything about them”.
At that time, I was back at work full-time, so my little project was temporarily put on hold. James encouraged me to pick things up again as he could see that I clearly believed in the idea. However, with everything I had to juggle I didn’t think I couldn’t get things off the ground on my own. So I asked James if he wanted to partner with me.
A few days later, James rang to say he really liked the idea and was excited to join forces. That’s when our journey started.
And after a lot of hard work, here we are. We made my dream a reality!
Hopefully you love our garments as much as we do!
In our modern world there is a lot of pressure to conform. At Tilly & Tojo we believe that diversity is strength. We want to encourage children to be themselves and celebrate everyone’s uniqueness. Our fun, vibrant clothes help kids to feel confident and unleash their full potential.