In a world where fashion options are endless, Ethiopian-born fashion designer Nahdra Ra Bey is actively engaged in just about every aspect of the process of bringing new fashions to the attention of the public.
Inspired by Eco-friendly, not just in the choice of materials but also in the process of manufacturing each garment, Nahdra uses a variety of textures, patterns, and colors that have really made her standout.
We caught up with the fashion designer at the 6th annual African Festival in Boston, where she showcased The House of Nahdra clothing line.
BCB: First and foremost, describe to us what you have on.
I’m wearing something very comfortable. A skirt and top; I have cuts in it because I love the idea of fabric not laying traditionally; laying flat. I love texture in my clothing. The gold represents divine royalty and healing energy. Also dealing with the solar plexus Chakra. This color blue in particular represents the “first eye.” Some people say third eye. It’s my intuition eye.
BCB: What is your inspiration behind your collection?
I’m so inspired by divine energy and energy itself, and how it transforms but never dies. To me that’s art. Natural art, like Nature; you eat the food that comes from the land because that is the best for you, and then you eat it and give it back to the land. And it’s this continuous, beautiful cycle. I love creating, sending loving, healing energy through all that I create. Whether it be food, clothing, dance, jewelry, adornments of all kinds, that is my focus.
BCB: How long have you worked in the fashion industry?
Without the professional title, since I was a little girl. When I was 9 years old I used to cut my clothes up and rearrange them and use safety pins in different areas. My mom hoped I was going through a phase at that time; she was hoping it would pass. Tah-dah!
I went to fashion school when I was 18. I started in my first fashion show when I was 19. I started doing fashion shows before I had clients. I would make 15 pieces for many different shapes and bodies. That really helped me learn before I started doing work for clients. It fulfilled my spirit in communicating through visual art. Back then I didn’t talk a lot, but I watched and I felt a lot. That was my way of expressing myself.
BCB: Where do your models come from?
They come from all over the world. Predominantly African and West Indian—Mali, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Somali, Sierra Leone, Trinidad, Jamaica, Central America and the United States. Our focus is to really raise the vibration of those who are wearing it and those who are viewing it.
BCB: What are the specific meanings behind the tribal marks?
The one on my face represents my family’s tribe in the Northern part of Ethiopia. That’s why I put them on my models. We usually have it near the eye area so you can spot somebody from your tribe. Some of the models had onks on their forehead. Again on the center of their “first eye”, representing eternal life. Some had 11s on their “first eye”. The 11 is the spiritual gateway number. So again opening up the “first eye” so we can be more in tune with the divine source and connect to our ancestors and divine guidance.
BCB: How much do the clothes vary in price?
I do sell to personal clients and people can order at our pop-up stores or fashion shows. We sell everything–from tops, skirts and jewelry, to pants and dresses. Anywhere from $20 to $150. We’re going online soon, which will be another way to purchase the clothes.
BCB: What lies ahead for House of Nahdra?
The goal is to continue making one-of-a-kind pieces. To mass produce in a way where it still has the essence of loving, healing, and energy. And spread it across the world. My focus is to make it affordable and not overprice or make it very pricey. For me it’s not about selling one piece that’s energetic healing, it’s about sharing it across the world.