We all know African Tribal patterns are the shit, these are facts. So when someone hit the submissions with this fire you’re about to see, we had no choice but to find out more about who they were is and what MIZIZI is about. From Texas, we at Senclaire would like to introduce you to Paakow Essandoh, co-founder and CEO of the clothing line MIZIZI. Being of Ghanaian descent Paakow and his partner George Kariuki decided to make use of these African tribal elements not only to take over the underground clothing industry, but to also help others embrace their African descent with the country wide jersey’s ultimately representing one’s ancestry. We got the chance to talk Paakow and get inside the mind of the designer.
Who are you?
Paakow: My name is Paakow Essandoh, an American born Ghanaian, and I am the Co-founder and current CEO of MIZIZI International, LLC.
What is it that you do?
Paakow: Haha, I’ve never really had a solid answer for this question. Not quite sure I can give you one either. I guess you could say I run and manage a streetwear brand for the Diaspora.
How long have you been designing clothes?
Paakow: Not too long. The idea for MIZIZI was conceived my freshman year at USF. I’m currently a Junior now, so roughly about 2 years.
Where did you get the idea to start MIZIZI?
Paakow: It all started when I had met my friend George Kariuki. He’s an international student from Kenya who used to rock the dopest gear that had African fabric stitched into it. We used to spend hours in the dining hall just talking about how we could really market the clothes. One thing led to another and boom, MIZIZI was born.
Is there a meaning behind the brand?
Paakow: MIZIZI means ‘Roots’ in Swahili. To be honest, at first I didn’t think the brand would be as impacting as it is, but within just a few short months I’ve seen that MIZIZI is way bigger than me. It’s literally aspiring Africans around the world to rep their nation on their sleeve proudly. It’s actually incredible to see what waves it’ll continue to make in the future.
Have you worked with any other clothing lines or have you just been focused on MIZIZI?
Paakow: I haven’t had the time to do too many collabs honestly. One dope one I was able to do though was with Tawia Designs last month; it was a Ghanaian Independence Day shoot featuring their Kente printed Roshes and MIZIZI’s Ghana Baseball Jersey. I’m also currently working on a collaboration with Modern Pharaoh, but we’re keeping that under wraps for the time being.
Where do you operate out of?
Paakow: So MIZIZI is based in Texas, but we ship most of our merchandise out of Florida.
Does your hometown give you inspiration for new ideas or do you think it’s holding you back?
Paakow: Man, without growing up where I did, I don’t think I would be as successful as I am today. It’s nothing short of a blessing being raised in Dallas. It’s becoming a huge creative hub for Africans; & compared to the projects some of my friends have done, they put my ideas to shame. There’s some real talent brewing in Dallas, it’s only a matter of time before they’re discovered.
Do you have any idols?
Paakow: Can’t say that I do. I try my best not to idolize others.
Any people you’d want to collaborate with?
Paakow: Not many come too mind. I really don’t have too much time to do collabs. I am working on one with Enbois by Maxim; a Haitian influenced company that makes wooden works such as beaded bracelets and pendants. The CEO of the company happens to go to my school as well and a mutual friend of ours had linked us up.
What was it that made you wanna make clothes?
Paakow: Opportunity. Once I figured out what my personal legend was, it took some out of the box thinking to figure out how to achieve it.
Are you in school or are you solely working on your product?
Paakow: Currently getting my degree in Health Science. It’s a struggle juggling the two but it’ll be well worth it. I want to climb the ladder of achievement as high as I can.
How does it feel to know that all your clothes are going around all over the country?
Paakow: It’s such a dope feeling. To see my product in other countries, and inciting conversation for people about Africa is a feeling like no other. I think the greatest thing though is when someone comes back and tells me how much their parent’s love their jerseys or takes it from them to wear on their own. Knowing my Mom & all the struggles she faced growing up, the least I can do is make her proud and take pride in the country that molded her into the woman she is today. And replicating that feeling for others is what really drives me to keep working.
What’re your expectations for 2016? How do you think you’ll do this year?
Paakow: Nothing but blessings man. I think 2016 is going to be a great year for MIZIZI, I have too much planned for it not to be.
So is the rumor of all the work behind packing and shipping hell true?
Paakow: Lmao, man. The minute I started taking orders in, I immediately realized I needed to bring a fulfillment center onto my team. It’s crazy stressful, and even in dealing with them it’s still not easy.
Is there anything you want to say to whoever reads this?
Paakow: Once you find your personal legend, your calling in life; run with it. It may mean putting yourself in uncomfortable positions or doing so by unconventional means, but it’ll be fulfilling regardless the entire way through. You’re blessed with your life, why not do what makes you happy?
You can follow MIZIZI on Twitter and you can visit their website here. If i were you I’d be paying attention to their website because soon they have a new line dropping soon titled MIZIZI X AFRIBBEAN. Get hip while there’s still time!