“When I look at where I was and where I could’ve been, my story inspires me to keep going.”
Monah Water is the heartbeat of Majestic Wisdom, a Toronto-based clothing brand that fuses African fabric and contemporary fashion.
“I took fashion in high school and had a really bad experience with my teacher. That really scared me from using the sewing machine. After that experience; I ended up failing the course and not really having anything to do with fashion,” says Water.
Water founded Majestic Wisdom in 2014 to become a member of a youth program. She didn’t get in, so she joined a community arts program called Youth for Change.
“I still carried a lot of those fears with me into the program, but I noticed that when I would go home, that was when I would find my confidence in working with the machine,” says Water.
For the program’s final showcase, Water found herself drawn to incorporate cultural fabrics from her parents’ native countries, Ghana and Liberia.
Water was born in Ghana and moved to Canada with her parents when she was six years old. They were one of the few African families in her neighbourhood, which Water says played a role in her not knowing much about her culture.
“Growing up, they [her parents] spoke the language. I understood it a bit, but after my dad passed away, my mom didn’t really have anyone to speak it to,” says Water
Water says the first piece she sewed was an outfit for her baby nephew. “It was my testing grounds to try out a piece and see how it works,” says Water.
And it did.
Although she receives support from her family and friends, Water has had times where her brand has been questioned by fellow entrepreneurs.
Water was a vendor at a marketplace that was exclusive to black businesses. After a successful day, she emailed the organizer to share her appreciation of the opportunity.
Water received a call from the organizer thinking it was a response to her email.
“The conversation was based upon him criticizing my brand, saying that I didn’t sell what I said I was going to sell and then degrading the brand,” says Water.
“For me, that was a very discouraging moment. The meaning behind the name and the brand is much deeper than what this person broke it down to be. Also, I knew the work that went into me being at the marketplace that day. It was very hurtful and upsetting knowing that it was coming from another business I was supportive of.”
Water says that situation discouraged her and made her question her brand.
“I knew the work that went into me being at the marketplace that day. It was very hurtful and upsetting knowing that it was coming from another business I was supportive of,” says Water.
Water says that the experience made her realize that even though Majestic Wisdom may not be for everyone, she can’t allow that to chip away from the reason and the purpose of what she’s doing.
In a sea of African inspired clothing, Water says she’s keeping Majestic Wisdom relevant by building relationships.
“For me, I’m really keeping it relevant by making that person to person connection. I’ve been to showcases and not every designer takes the time to go out and meet the people that are in the audience, to interact with them,” says Water.
Water’s vision for Majestic Wisdom is global. She wants to use her platform to create an organization that goes past fashion.
“I see it entering institutions and making changes in policies at a grassroots level and mobilizing. I see it more than clothes that people are wearing. I see a movement,” says Water.
Water says she has many things planned in 2018, and those ventures will reveal the vision she has.
Water says that there are many people who don’t talk about the challenges they face when owning a business or a brand, which is why she is open about her adversities.
“It has taken me along time to get here. I still struggle with self-confidence which is why as a designer as a business owner, I like to be open about it.”
Water says that everyone is on their own journey. How one defines success shouldn’t be based on another person’s point of view..
“I’m learning to trust my process and say this is a part of my story. Every time I didn’t have something, I’ve been able to create from what people consider nothing. That in itself is my success story.”