For Felicia Mgbada, American women's fashions don't have enough texture or color compared to the garments in her home country of Nigeria. There, the markets radiate with fabric featuring saturated hues and complex patterns.
"I like styles that stand out," says the senior management major, a longtime fashion aficionado.
Last year, Mgbada decided to fill the void she saw - and share a bit of her culture with Western women through clothing. The result: the SOFO Collection, a spring and summer fashion line fusing Nigerian styles and fabric with modern American women's wear. Felicia's family purchases the fabric in Nigerian markets and sends them to Bucknell, allowing Felicia to create new casual and formal designs almost weekly.
"The pieces are something the everyday woman could wear, but are distinctly different," says Mgbada, who has been working on a series of shorts. "They are the types of styles I just don't see in America or the West."
The collection has begun to take off, with students purchasing pieces and providing consumer feedback at "marketing parties" on campus. And recently, Mgbada came in third at Bucknell's Small Business Development Center competition, winning $500 after giving a business pitch to a panel of judges and the public. She says she'll invest the award money in her website so she can reach more customers. She also hopes to expand soon into designing jewelry and clutches.
Down the road, she sees a purpose that goes beyond filling a market niche. "I definitely see my business as social entrepreneurship," says Mgbada. "Once I'm more established, I plan on developing jobs for Nigerian women. There are a lot of women in the villages who are self-taught seamstresses and would benefit from steady income and job security."