about

SARAH DIOUF

BUILDING AN AFRICAN DREAM
My name is Sarah, I was born and currently live in Paris, but I was raised in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire for the most part of my childhood by a half Senegalese and Central African mother and a half Senegalese and Congolese father. Because of the jobs my parents had (stewardess and pilot), I have been able to travel a lot while I was younger, which has definitely had an impact on my mindset. When the Ivorian political situation got bad in the early 2000s, I was sent to stay with my aunt in Paris to pursue schooling. A radical change from my lifestyle and a hard period of adaptation to France and its ways, where I used to come only for vacation. My dream was to become an architect, but my grades in mathematics weren’t good enough to get me into the sciences section in high school. I then decided that anything related to communication and image - advertising precisely - would be my thing. I applied and got into business school and decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Marketing to keep my options a little more open. In 2008, I got into a car accident that almost cost my life. That event led me to ask myself « What if I was meant to leave that day? What would have been left of me here? » I wasn’t very driven nor concerned about my future before the accident, so that helped me to put everything in perspective. That experience made me think about what I wanted and who I wanted to be. Sustaining injuries, including a broken neck, I took a full year off of school to recover. I gifted myself with my very first macBook and made the Internet my research territory. Appearing as the new leading platform, the blogosphere was taking off, and rules were broken and access granted through a new digital landscape. Willing to do something different and less personal than a blog, in January 2009, I decided to launch my first - digital - magazine, Ghubar, to promote the emerging creative scene and the beauty never shown in major publications. It was no easy feat to get validation from brand representatives in the beginning, but I slowly got there. In 2011, I won a UK Cosmopolitan Fashion Award, and landed collaborations with established brands such as Audi and Reebok, which gave a real boost and an international brilliance to the publication. After observing the African media and fashion markets, honing my skills over the years, and following my intuition, I decided to launch earlier this year my second magazine : NOIR, a bi-annual African fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazine dedicated to Noir women. It’s a magazine with an aim to deliver the same quality content as Western luxury publications, and garner the same international demand. It is important for me to market NOIR as an African magazine, as other magazines that are marketed as such do not meet the needs, wants and expectations of my generation. If my mother and I can read and share each other’s Vogue or Elle, without feeling too old or too young, I believe NOIR will evoke that same feeling of timelessness. For having worked in the fashion industry, I have been able to see and learn things from different angles which provided the tools that allowed me to execute my latest venture ; TONGORO, a Made in Africa clothing line. Diverse cultures, the digital era, and the celebration of the African lifestyle have allowed this moment to emerge for Africans on the continent and in the diaspora. This is a moment were Africans are influencing the world with forward ideas and inventiveness, while nourishing themselves with creativity. Very inspired by Nastygal ’s founder Sophia Amoruso, I've decided to think big, but start small, in order to offer affordable quality African fashion. As a beginner, the process was draining, yet a very exciting creative and human journey. I am not quite there yet, but I am very proud of what I have accomplished so far. Today, I want to inspire young Africans and prove that we can build our own Dream by owning our ideas and putting them into fruition. Entrepreneurship doesn’t always require money to start, but courage and faith in ourselves. I dream of an Africa healed from the wounds inflicted because of a way of thinking that limited us for too long. It’s time for us to build a secure, strong and promising place challenging the rest of the world with assets that belong to no one else than ourselves. That is my African Dream.