Kimma Wreh of Tekay Designs

Kimma Wreh is doing her thing at Tekay Designs. As head designer of the Houston, Texas-based ethnic bridal design shop, she has definitely made strides within the ethnic bridal design industry, going places very few have been before. With only $100 in her pockets, she came to the United States from Liberia, West Africa, with a dream and a strong belief in the possibilities of what was on the other side of hard work. Today, that hard work has paid off and she leads a production team of designers based in Houston and Ghana and has distributors in places like China, India, Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal, the United States and Mexico. In the interview below, Kimma Wreh shares, with Afrikan Goddess Magazine, her life, her dreams, and an exclusive inside look at Tekay Designs.

Afrikan Goddess: Please tell us a little bit about yourself; about your life growing up.

I was born in Monrovia, Liberia, a West African country.  I grew up by the coast and the weather was hot year long with two seasons, Rainy Season and Dry Season.   In 1980, there was a coup and the military took over the

government.  Although I grew up during a period of political instability, I was surrounded by a network of loving parents and family.  After graduating from the CWA high school in 1985, I attended the University of Liberia , College of Business before it was closed due to civil distress and rioting. I left Liberia in 1988 to study at Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1988.

Afrikan Goddess: What’s the inspiration behind TeKay Designs? What does it mean, and what led you to begin designing ethnic bridal wear?

I started TeKay Designs in collaboration with my sister, Titi. While attending Howard University where I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, I received a lot of compliments while wearing my ethnic casual designs.  When I started TeKay Designs, I wanted to show the world the beauty of the African culture by creating a unique line of ethnic and African-inspired bridal attire.   Therefore I traveled to Ghana in 2001 and met with local tailors, embroiderers, weavers and artists there to produce the Sankofa collection meaning “Going back to your roots”. This collection featured matching wedding gowns, men’s bridal suits, and bridesmaids attire with coordinating embroidery, symbols, and fabric.

Afrikan Goddess: What made you decide to begin designing maternity gowns? This sounds like a uniquely new trend. Is there a great demand for these kinds of gowns?

I wanted to focus on clothing that was difficult to find in stores.  After doing market research, I decided to design an elegant and upscale line of maternity bridal, formal, evening and casual attire.  This continues to be a niche area and I have seen a steady growth and expansion of sales for maternity wedding gowns.

Afrikan Goddess: How long have you been in the business of designing bridal gowns and accessories? As an African woman within the industry here in the United States, what are some of the challenges you’d say you face having to compete within the bridal market?

I have been designing bridal gowns and accessories for over 13 years. My biggest challenge is stereotypes and being defined in business by the color of my skin or my accent.  I also did not have a mentor to guide me along the way, and relied primarily on self funding versus investment capital.  However I have a passion for culture that transcends into my line of clothing. This passion and determination has made it possible for me to continue expanding my line and touch more cultures throughout the world.  I came to the U.S. from Liberia with $100 in my pocket and a bag of clothes. America is a land of opportunity and I believe that if you work hard, believe in yourself, that you can be successful. Having a MBA has been valuable for me because I understand what it takes to run a business.

Afrikan Goddess: According to your home page, you cater to almost all aspects of the bridal party – from “custom and ready-made bridal and formal clothing, wedding gowns, maternity wedding gowns, ethnic wedding dresses, to African and ethnic clothing, flower girl dresses, bridesmaid attire, grooms and groomsmen clothes.” Is there anything you DO NOT cater to?

Good question. While I cater to the entire bridal party, I do not sell lingerie and shoes at this point (smile).

Afrikan Goddess: What kinds of materials do you typically use in your designs?

In general, my designs are distinguished by hand woven embroidery, decorative trims, and beading such as glass beads, wooden beads, Swarvowski crystals, stones and cowrie shells.  We also utilize high quality fabrics from Africa, Europe, U.S.A., South America, and Asia to produce fabulous styles for the TeKay Designs line.  The use of embroidered symbols is also prevalent in several of my African-inspired designs. For example, Ankh (key of life), Sankofa (Going back to your roots), Gye Nyame (Omnipotence of God), Odo Nnyew Fie Kwan (power of love), and Nyame Dua (tree of God – alter) are popular symbols.

Afrikan Goddess:  How ethnic would you say your ethnic collections really are? Do you use African fabrics in your gowns? And do you use any other fabrics from other parts of the world?

We have traditional African attire made in Africa with Guinea brocade fabric and adorned with embroidery that is delicately hand stitched by our embroiderers in Ghana.  We also have a large collection of African-inspired and Asian-inspired attire that appeals to a global marketplace. I incorporate cultural elements into my designs from various cultures around the world.  This includes use of fabrics such as Guinea brocade from West Africa, Ash-Oke from Nigeria, Kente from Ghana, Kikoi fabrics from Kenya and East Africa, George fabrics, Ankara, Hollandais and wax print.  I also use fabrics from other countries including Saris from India, Oriental jacquard from China, Voile lace from Eastern Europe, Dupioni Silk, Satins and embroidered lace.

Afrikan Goddess: How would you describe your main clientele? In other words, who patronizes your designs more (African-Americans, Africans etc.)?

TeKay Designs has several lines including traditional, maternity and ethnic bridal, formal, and casual wear.  Therefore, we have clients from various races, ethnicities and cultures throughout the world. Our clients include people of African descent as well as other ethnicities in the U.S.A., Canada, Carribean, Europe, and Asia.

Afrikan Goddess: What about the TeKay Designs team? Do you work alone, or do you have a team to assist, and how do you bring it all (the final product) together?

TeKay Designs has a global team. Our headquarters and showroom is located in Houston Texas where we host several highly skilled seamstresses, tailors and jewelry designers.  We have a design and production team in Houston and Ghana.  We also have associates in Maryland, New York, India, China, Mexico, Kenya and Senegal.  As the Chief Designer for the TeKay Designs brand, I oversee the entire creative process.  All orders are processed in Houston Texas and then dispatched as appropriate.  Our ready made clothes are usually mailed from Houston Texas.  Custom orders are usually mailed from Ghana or Houston to the client.  Our showroom is open by appointment only.  Our designs are featured on our website at www.tk-designs.com for an easy shopping experience.

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  1. Afrikan Goddess Magazine | TK-Designs | March 6, 2012
  1. http://athaliabarrett.wix.com/athaliabarrett
    Hello, I would like to know if you can make a wrap fitted floor length dress for my 9 year old daughter. She is 4’10” with 3 inch hills she is about 5’1″. She is a 25-22-28 measurements. She is a 9 girls but slim and long. She needs a very colorful dress, for a showcase that will put her in front of major agencies from Elite or Ford modeling to Tyler Perry studios. We need a drop dead georgeous dress that will make her stand out. I was thinking about pink and orange with pink on top and an orange wrap on top with the bottom open to the orange in front at the bottom with gold acsents. Maybe a thin gold head band that can look like a crown like the child in the picture here on your site to the right of the screen. Can you do something like this and if so how much and can you have it done in about two weeks? 919-285-9654 Thank you.

  2. Tweh Wreh says:

    Hi Kimma this is Tweh your brother. Hoping you be greater than all your peers in the industry.Miss you. Hows Tuan Tuan? Your designs are awesome.

  3. Kimma Wreh says:

    Thanks for the messages. All is well. Please send email to tekayd@yahoo.com or customerservice@tk-designs.com