SOURCE: essence.com 

Tolu Oye’s path to becoming a fashion designer was set for her at eight years old. During those early stages of her life, she’d run around the house telling guests of her creative aspirations. By 15, her parents trusted her decision to move to New York City from Ohio to pursue her dream of becoming a designer.  

They knew she would succeed as pattern-cutting was second nature to her. Her mother taught her how to cut patterns using coupon paper.  

Due to her grit and dedication to her craft, she graduated with a diploma from Fort Hays State University’s Art and Design department–then, she went on to graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2020.  

 Tolu’s degree from the latter was a monumental moment as it was years in the making. Four years later, in 2020, she launched her brand Meji Meji, in homage to the street her grandmother lives on called “Ore Meji St.” 

“I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to begin my legacy, “Oye tells ESSENCE.com. “I wanted my brand to reflect my culture, so I went through a Yoruba dictionary, the language I grew up speaking, and came across the word ‘Meji.’” 

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“Meji,” meaning double in Yoruba, and it reflects the duality of Nigerian and African American cultures. This is one of Oye’s main inspirations regarding her brand’s identity. Her parents taught her prominent facets of her African heritage, like Nigerian Highlife music, Fuji music, and Nollywood movies.  

The brand’s ethos is “sharing authentic stories and creating quality and functional garments designed to make you feel free, strong, and connected to the past.”  

She mentions that Meji Meji is centered around sharing elements of fashion from her parent’s home country, and fusing it with beauty, nostalgic imagery and innovative design. 

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