Bringing African fashion to Cleveland

Chimu fashion, Cleveland, Ohio

Chioma Onukwuire's fashion line, Chimu, was created when she discovered a local need for African fashion. The savvy Cleveland-based entrepreneur was kind enough to answer some questions for us about filling a gap in the marketplace, naming her business and fashion in Cleveland. See her answers below:


What made you decide to open Chimu?

I opened Chimu because growing up, African fashion was really hard to come by in America. The deciding factor was when my mom was asked why she did not wear native Nigerian clothing, and she basically answered that it was too expensive and the shipping times were long. It was at that moment I decided to come up with a solution.

Why the name Chimu?

Chimu was a nickname that I had in high school, and it stuck with me.

You grew up in Houston; what prompted you to move to the Cleveland area?

I came to Cleveland for school. However, I want to stay in Cleveland because there is a renaissance happening here, and I want to be a part of it.

What advice would you give someone starting a fashion- or apparel-related business in Cleveland?

It is okay to start small. It is okay to only start with one style. You can steadily grow; do not compare yourselves to other people in social media or real life. Also, keep the perspective of expecting nothing good to happen to you for five years (I stole that from Gary Vaynerchuk). Things take time to build.

Do you have a favorite piece you've created, or one with a special significance?

I love all the pieces, but my favorite piece so far is the red and purple skirt from Zambia. This was my first time working with an African country that I had absolutely no connection to.


Learn more about Chimu's offerings - including custom work and styling for the Blank Panther premiere - at


Friday, February 2, 2018