Fatim started Fatim Bahh brand as a socially conscious line, to help young girls get access to primary education in Kassa, 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. Read more about our interview with her below.
Tell us about yourself – familial/personal story, education, and prior work.
My name is Fatim Bahh, I was born and raised in Guinea, West Africa. Both my parents were highly educated and I remember my father always saying that Education was the only thing a man would never take away from a woman, therefore we should really focus on education.
I Moved to US on my 18th birthday to go to college and get a better educational opportunity. I studied Fashion Design and Social work at University of Los Angeles, where I received my BA in both fields.
After working as a Social worker for low income families and working in the fashion industry for over 10 years as a personal stylist, assistant designer and wholesales rep. It was time for me to get my own business.
How did you get interested in ethical and sustainable fashion?
Conscious Fashion is a global movement, I have always admired respecting nature, caring for social justice and making beautiful things. It was a Natural fit.
How did your educational/professional experience inform fashion work?
My education and professional influence my decision making today, the type of business I want to own and the impact I would like to make in society. You have to have a voice, and I don’t think I would have known all the things I now know if not for these experiences.
What is the importance of ethical and sustainable fashion designers and companies?
We are a vehicle for a change in today’s society. People look up to us, they want to understand what they are buying, who is making their clothes and where the materials are coming from.
Who is a personal hero or heroine within the ethical and sustainable fashion world for you?
I like brand like Krochet Kids INTL for their social impact and Everlane for their Radical transparency.
What is Fatim Bahh?
We are a socially responsible Brand made in USA with the mission to support young girls’ education in Guinea, West Africa.
What are some of its feature products?
Every product features a hand-woven/hand-dye African textile accent, a signature design for our clothes. We have a wide range of tops and dresses.
What is your customer base – the demographics?
Women living in urban areas age 25-55, we are building a movement and welcome anyone to join the community of like minded.
There have been large tragedies such as the Rana Plaza collapse, which was the largest garment factory accident in history with over 1,000 dead and more than 2,500 injured. Others were the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (1911) and the Pakistan Garment Factory Fires (2012). What are the importance of human rights and worker rights in this new movement, and to the garment industry?
Companies should be taken accountable for poor working conditions in factories.
Women and children are the majority of the exploited and violated work forces. What is the importance of te status of women’s and children’s rights in the ethical and sustainable fashion world too?
the right to a healthy and safe working environment; the right to a minimum wage and the prohibition of firing a worker without a valid reason. The right to freedom from discrimination.
Children are the most vulnerable population. Women tend to have less status than men in societies including the right to decent working conditions, decent pay, to vote, and so on. What is the relationship between the need to implement women’s rights and children’s rights?
the prohibition of forced or compulsory labour; the prohibition (or limitation) of child labour; the right to leisure and rest during work; the right to equality of treatment between home workers and other wage earners; the right to an 8-hour day or a 48-hour week.
Child labour and slavery are problems, major ones. These include children throughout the world. Tens of millions of children in the case of child labour and a few million for child slavery. How can individuals get the word out about these other rights violations?
As global citizen, we all need to get involve in our community, organizations and share our knowledge. Use your social media outlets to spray the world on child labor, human right.
How can individuals, designers, fashion industries, and consumers begin to work to implement those rights so that these vulnerable populations in many countries of the world have better quality of life?
I think its important to join forces, buy for companies that are transparent in their process and conscious brand, like Fatim Bahh.
What topics most interest you?
Girls education and women empowerment.
Did you have a mentor in this work?
Have you mentored others?
Yes, I am the co-founder of One Girl At A Time foundation, a US Non-profit organization that help put young girls to school in Africa and I am an active member of UN global class room committee, in San Diego.
What are the importance of mentors in the fashion world for professional, and personal, development?
If you get the right mentorship, it’s priceless what you can learn.
From personal observations, more women than men involve themselves in the fashion industry by a vast margin of difference at all levels. Why?
Interesting you mentioned that because despite the fact that most fashion brands are catering to women, very few are let by them, men still on the top of the industry, even though women are entering the industry at the bottom, they are not rising proportionally to the top. Things are still moving slowly for us.
What personal fulfillment comes from this work for you?
It so rewarding to know at the end of the day that you help made a difference somewhere, no matter how little. The more we grow our movement, business the better chances we have to share our movement with others and help make a bigger impact in our society.
What other work are you involved in at this point in time?
My foundation, One Girl At A Time, helps provide education opportunity to young girls in Africa.
Any recommended authors or fashionistas (or fashionistos)?
Eco Fashion by Sass Brown.
Any recommended means of contacting Fatim Bahh?
Join our movement of helping girls attend school and get the basic primary education.
Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion based on the conversation today?
Yes, don’t be afraid to start something, follow your heart and find your true calling. Just because you don’t have people’s support does mean you are not doing it right, it takes time.
Thank you for your time, Fatim.