Mary and Martha Tondoneh (21) are young textile designers from Sierra Leone. They own a clothing brand called Mundaz Clothing, a brand that uses tie-dying to create items of clothing like T-shirts, Socks, Shirts, Crop Tops, and Hats into fabulous designs using the Tie-dye method.
They are modern-day gara dyeing designers who creatively found a way of applying this method to suit the contemporary world. They named their brand Mundaz which translates as “Our own” after their mother who has been a huge source of support and inspiration throughout their journey as textile designers. The art of “gara” dyeing was thought to have been developed between 1820 and 1920 in the north of the country by the Madingoes and the Susus, with “gara” deriving from the indigo plant.
“Mom was happy with our idea of doing fabric dyeing. Our first set of clothes were bought by her. She motivated us after our first try turned out to be a disaster and helped in developing our love for this business.”
They are yet to get a physical space for their business but that has not stopped them from growing their business as they have taken to social media most specifically Instagram and WhatsApp to advertise and conduct their business. Social media marketing has proven to be a powerful tool for business owners of all sizes allowing them to reach prospects and customers from all over the world, something Mary and Martha hope to achieve one day.
Production is dependent on the specifications of the customer and also on orders received. In order to stay relevant and to make sure that their customers get the best, they had to challenge themselves to come up with new ideas, styles, and creative concepts on a daily basis.
“We do a lot of research online just to get a grip of what it’s like out there in the fashion world and build a concept expressing our originality”.
“We are portraying Sierra Leonean culture through our products. In as much as we live in a trending world, representing our country’s identity in our fashion is our main aim. We want to be different, unique and at the same time showcase Sierra Leone in our business to the wider world.”
As with any business Mary and Martha have encountered many challenges ranging from balancing their work with their education to acquiring and converting followers to customers, they knew that for them to be able to breakthrough in this market they needed to love what they do and also stay committed to their art.
Mary and Martha are twins who were born and raised in Freetown, to Sierra Leonean parents, they attended Modern High School, and are now in their second year of their tertiary studies Majoring in biochemistry at Wartburg College, USA. They are small business owners, who utilize their creativity by transforming ordinary clothing into contemporary clothing.