We consider ourselves incredibly lucky to have welcomed Rita to our Idaho team in October 2020. She's a Congolese fashion designer, business owner, and incredibly gifted seamstress. She is one of the most resilient and compassionate women we know, and we are grateful Rita is helping lead our growing women's employment program in Idaho.
Rita learned to sew from her mother, Veronique, at the age of 6, when her mother owned a successful fashion brand in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When Rita was dressing up and designing outfits, she began dreaming of a career in fashion, but when JOLIE MODE was destroyed by the war, Rita had to put their dreams on hold. They were given a second chance when they moved to Boise in 2012 and opened a successful retail shop called Thara Fashion in the International Market. When it burned down in 2015, the two women were more determined than ever.
Now, both Rita and Veronique design and make products for S H E while they rebuild Thara Fashion into a thriving online store. We recently interviewed Rita for our Women of S H E series, and here are her inspiring words!
How did you become a fashion designer?
I have been passionate about design and sewing since I was 6 years old. When I was 7 years old, my mom gave me a sewing machine toy as a Christmas gift, and it was the best gift I ever received. It allowed me to become the designer for all of my dolls and for all of my friends' dolls.
I learned sewing from my mom, who learned sewing from her mother. When my mom was in her 20s, she studied fashion in Switzerland and created a really successful company in the Democratic Republic of Congo called Jolie Mode. It was destroyed by the Congo war, but now that we are in Boise as a family, my mother and I have collaborated to build Thara Fashion together. At Thara Fashion, we import fabric from Africa to design and create modern clothing, handbags, and accessories.
How did you come to join team S H E?
I have worked with the International Rescue Committee for many years, and they let me know that Payton and S H E wanted to hire seamstresses in Boise. Payton then contacted me, and I'm now so excited about this opportunity to work with her and help build S H E.
What are some of your favorite pieces you've designed in your career?
Some of my favorite pieces I have designed are the Miriam Makeba top and the Sele skirt. (You can shop Thara Fashion here!)
What inspires your work?
I'm inspired by so many things. I look to nature, life stories, different events, or even life circumstances to inspire my design.
Rita's currently developing two exciting new projects for S H E, so stay tuned for those exciting announcements in the coming months!