BFI student hits marketplace with eco-friendly textiles

RENEE MINUS WHITE | 4/19/2018, 3:24 p.m.
Didier Wen Yam Pessinaba, one of Berkeley College’s BROOKLYN fashion incubator students, is launching his business—AfriKaccents—as he moves toward graduation ...
Dilder Wen Yam Pessinaba, A Brooklyn Fashion Incubator student at Berkeley College showing his fabics at an expo in NYC Contributed

Didier Wen Yam Pessinaba, one of Berkeley College’s BROOKLYN fashion incubator students, is launching his business—AfriKaccents—as he moves toward graduation this spring. From his African roots, he has developed the idea to import eco-friendly fabric made by African women in their villages, which will enhance their incomes and help support their families.

Pessinaba came to Berkeley College with a passion to become a successful entrepreneur in the fashion business. He enrolled in the college as a fashion merchandising and management major in 2016. During 2017, his perseverance, thirst to succeed and application of what he learned in and out of the classroom began to pay off. Fortunately, he was able to transfer credits and will graduate with a BA degree in the spring of 2018.

While interning with BFI, Pessinaba met director Maria Barraza. She was impressed with his business idea, especially after she saw the unique fabrics he was preparing to import. She introduced him to several important contacts in the textile industry who could help get his business off the ground.

“There is a void in the market,” explained Barraza, also a designer. “This fabric of AfriKaccents is a great substitute for linen. It’s handmade 100 percent cotton that’s created with plant and fruit-based dye, making it eco-friendly. The business empowers women in Africa who are nourishing their families and their communities through this trade.”

Last January, Pessinaba represented BFI at a two-day fabric expo, held in New York City. His display included a colorful, graphic print line of handmade textiles that received a tremendous response. This exposure gave his new business a big boost: this Berkley fashion Incubator student, now businessman, received his first two orders at the expo. In the near future, AfriKaccents fabrics will be utilized for clothing designs, accessories and furniture coverings.

“I started my fashion career designing menswear for myself, when I was very young,” he revealed.

Today, you can find a small selection of the AfriKaccents line at Barraza Style, a boutique in Stonington, Conn. There are bags, jackets, totes and sportswear pieces.