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Meet Umaimah Damakka of Coloured Braids in Midtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Umaimah Damakka.

Umaimah, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am a female artist from Nigeria. I always had a love for art and animation from when I was little and in love with Tom and Jerry and Winx Club, but it was hard navigating that in my community cause art isn’t seen as a career but rather a hobby. It was harder being a girl and wanting to do something that they deemed was out of the ordinary.

I faced challenges convincing my parents to support me as I took it as a career. My art took off after I started attending Savannah College of arts and design. I have always been inspired by the cute artworks I see online, I also wanted to create that and showcase it to the world. Being around creative-minded people inspired me to open my store and sell items like pins, stickers, and prints.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has not been a smooth road. As I mentioned before, there is a challenge with wanting to pursue art as someone in a conservative community in Nigeria. Art is just seen as a hobby, this belief system was also something my parents upheld. I had to work hard at convincing them to support me as I attend art school. There also comes the challenge of being an international student in a foreign country, I have tough creative days and moments when I just want to be with family and be inspired by them but that is impossible with being oceans away from them.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Coloured Braids story. Tell us more about the business.
Coloured braids is the name of my brand and I started it off because I wasn’t seeing a lot of girls in media that looked like me, this includes art platforms online, not just tv shows, books or comics. I wanted to bring forward a different kind of image for black girls that is not the cookie-cutter idea of what we have in our minds when it comes to them. I draw pastel, (almost magical) black girls who probably love romance ad happy endings. I send them to manufacturers and get them made into prints, stickers, and pins and then sell them in my store.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I don’t think anything that has happened to me is due to luck, to be honest. I think these are moments to recognize your privilege and how certain doors get open for you because of connections and networking. People don’t like talking about that and that is the reality with a lot of goals that we meet. We have been privileged enough to have others that will pull us through. For me, my parents know a lot about running a business and this has helped me in making better decisions, also the people that I have met and connected with on the way have played a role in pushing me forward and uplifting my voice. They were always there to give advice and steer me in the right direction.

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Image Credit:
coloured braids

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