Welcome to Grass-fields
At Grass-fields we offer high quality and ethically made African inspired fashion. We create a range of modern African print dresses and clothing for women, men and kids that are all sourced and made here in the UK and Cameroon.
Above all, we believe in bringing value to every single one of you by providing exceptional products, resources, and customer service.
Grass-fields = Best African print dresses
I graduated in 2012 and was thrilled when a prestigious London accountancy firm showed an interest in me. Armed with an MBA and a supportive family; I could smell success. On the morning of my interview, I searched my wardrobe for the perfect power-outfit. I teamed my favourite African print blazer with a black skirt and low court shoes. As I walked into the reception area, everyone’s eyes were on me; I knew I’d chosen the perfect outfit! The people around me were dressed in dull, corporate jackets, but it didn’t concern me. I’ll inject some colour into these four walls, I thought to myself as I walked towards the interview room. Well, I was a bit naïve in those days…
The interview went perfectly, and I knew the job was mine, but the mood changed slightly as I was about to leave. “Christelle, if you worked here, would we always see you in such bright colours and bold prints?” the interviewer asked me. “Oh yes, of course! I love wearing bold prints,” I replied. I was pleased that she seemed to appreciate my sense of style. “I’m afraid we have a very strict dress code in this office; we avoid bright colours and bold prints because they don’t look very professional,” she told me. I felt so disappointed. Professionalism is not defined by the clothes we wear, I thought to myself. My style is a big part of my identity and I didn’t want to pretend to be someone else just to secure a job. But what could I do? I needed an income. That’s when I had my lightbulb moment.
I called my twin sister Michelle and told her I was coming home to Cameroon, so we could start a business selling African print dresses to women around the world. “I feel good when I wear these dresses and I want other women to feel like this too,” I told her. I arrived home with £50 in my pocket and no retail experience, but it didn’t matter because my sister and I had a strong desire to succeed.
In March of 2013, Grass-Fields (formerly known as The African Shop) was born. What do I love most about my job? Whilst carrying out my day-to-day tasks, I’m free to wear the bright African prints that empowered me in that interview room many years ago. On a day-to-day basis, I organise photo shoots, oversee designs, execute marketing strategies, and look after the financial side of the business. That’s pretty professional, I’d say!
When Christelle was studying in the UK, our family struggled financially. I tried my hardest to find a job, but times were tough, and employers rarely responded to my applications. I felt frustrated because I knew I had a lot to offer. I hoped that one day, I could continue my studies in medicine. I was even offered a place to study at the University of Manchester, but I couldn’t join the course because we simply didn’t have enough money to pay for the fees. My mother got into so much debt trying to pay for my two younger brothers to go to university. Eventually, they had to drop out because the fees were unmanageable. It was a mess and I really hoped that things would get better.
Christelle worked three jobs to pay for her Masters, which meant she was often too busy to talk on the phone. I really missed being close to my sister, but I understood that she needed to work hard. We had planned it all out; she would work hard and raise enough money for me to come to the UK to study. Then, we’d both find lucrative jobs to help bring our family out of debt. I had my hopes pinned on this dream, so when Christelle told me she was coming home to Cameroon, I was shocked. I was so scared because I knew that if she came back and the business didn’t work out, it would take years to save enough money for either one of us to travel abroad again.
The day she landed I was overwhelmed with happiness and excitement. I was also scared but Christelle asked me to trust her, and I did. To begin with, I didn’t know anything about the fashion industry, but over time I learned how to source fabrics, ship orders, and build meaningful relationships with our valued customers.
In the beginning we worked many 20-hour days to get the business off the ground; in fact, we often still do! It has been so rewarding to see our business grow and I’ll never forget where it all started. What do I love most about my job? I get to work with the people I care about the most. My mum is responsible for sourcing all our great fabrics, and I oversee all aspects of design, customer service, and operations. I work closely with Christelle and do have to rein her in sometimes because she’s such a creative person. We support each other and work together effectively. In fact, we’re the perfect combination, and I couldn’t be happier!