Grass-Fields wasn’t always the big player in fashion that you see today, with almost 1 million followers on Instagram and celebrity customers! It took a lot of hard work to grow our brand enough to have professional photographers and top-tier models. Let me take you back to the humble beginnings of our first ever photoshoot!
I returned to Cameroon from the UK after completing my MBA. With the idea of Grass-Fields as a small but bright spark in our minds, my sister Michele and I decided to dive in and open our own fashion brand.
Trying to get the brand off the ground was difficult, as we sought financial help from people but faced rejection at every turn. We didn’t lose hope and, after 3 months of posting consistently to Facebook and with only £50 we were ready to launch.
Making the best of what we had
Our first ever photoshoot was in 2013, and took place at our mum’s house in Biyem Assi, Yaounde, Cameroon. We didn’t have any money for fancy cameras, and took all of the photos on my Samsung Galaxy phone that I’d gotten whilst in the UK. Without professional models, Michele and I had to step up to the job.
We were our own MUAs, using Sleek cosmetics that I’d picked up on my last day in London. I still remember that the price of the foundation was £7.99, because I cried after paying an hour’s wages (of my evening cleaning job) for it. After taking a few pictures, I had a small breakdown at how displeased I was with the look of my makeup. Michele was super supportive through my tears, and encouraged me to keep going with the shoot.
We had 4 items we wanted to get photos of: a pair of shorts, a midi skirt, and 2 maxi dresses. We also had about 10 different bangles and earrings to get in the shots!
I pieced together the outfits with items in my wardrobe to accompany the shorts and skirt. This white shirt was £1.99 from eBay, as I never bought new clothing whilst studying in the UK. I could barely afford to pick up new underwear from Primark! Additional jewellery, such as the earrings, was selected from our mum’s jewellery box; we were grateful that she was happy to let us rifle through her closet! Our shoes were from a local market, and were a rare find as they were so inexpensive. It’s hard to find good quality shoes back home, and the good ones usually come with a stiff price tag!
This was our first peplum skirt, and I was so proud of it. It was well fitted and flattering, which made me feel great modelling it. This feeling has been something we’ve always sought to give all of our models and customers when wearing our clothes!
At the end of the shoot, I remember going straight to bed as I was still feeling slightly upset. Little did I know, whilst I was at home, Michele went to the nearest cyber cafe to upload the images to Facebook. This was when we got our first viral picture.
Never in our wildest dreams did we think that we could grow our tiny pipedream into a brand as big as Grass-Fields. We didn’t even think we would be able to make it successful enough to return to the UK! At the time, all we wanted was to find a way of supporting our incredible mum. We still use her jewellery box from time to time, but now it’s kept tucked away in a closet full of Grass-Fields’ finest!