Houston’s Onyii Brown Is Making African Fashion Modern

Re-discovering her passion for design in a time of crisis, Brown’s clothes have earned the attention of Martha Stewart and New York Fashion Week.

THE FIRST IMAGE on the online home of Onyii & Co. is of a woman resplendent in a vibrant halter dress, the patterned fabric a swirl of pinks, yellows and blues. Seeing it, it’s hard to believe that three years ago Onyii Brown, its designer, was a corporate real estate broker who wore the corporate uniform of sedate black suits.

Brown says that fashion has struck a chord with her from a young age, but as the child of Nigerian immigrants she was encouraged to choose a more practical career, studying robotics engineering at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst before switching to marketing. It wasn’t until the real estate market cratered and her husband lost her job during the recent recession that Brown re-discovered her first passion for fashion design.

“When my husband lost his job we didn’t know what the heck we were going to do ... I was about to lose my house,” says Brown. “I was lying in bed and I saw a wrap skirt in my head, so I went out to the sewing machine in the garage and made my first wrap skirt. I was texting my friends whether they would buy one, and they said yes. The next thing you know, I had an Etsy store.”

Brown specializes in garments made from traditional printed African fabrics, re-imagined in contemporary silhouettes like crop tops, reversible jackets, palazzo pants and maxi dresses accented by dramatic deep v-necks. She’s also fond of playing with and re-inventing the iconic wrap dress.

“I enjoy creating wrap dresses, wrap rompers, wrap top, almost everything. Read More here.

Onyii & Co. clothing is available online and at Melodrama Boutique.