Honorine Silva was born in Dakar, Senegal, to parents of Cape Verdean descent. She went on to study business at Oklahoma Christian University. But Silva always had dreams of being in fashion and shortly after she moved to Cape Verde she launched her own fashion line, UNATI, with a charity component build in. Having my clothing line had always been a dream since childhood. I always watched fashion shows on TV and promised myself that I would have my creations out here one day. As far as I can remember, drawing has always been an important part of my life. It was and still is the best way for me to escape reality and express myself and what I feel, explains Silva, who used her personal funds to start the line.
However, she adds, I started getting interested in fashion around the age of 12. I was looking for a way to express myself and what a better way to show your personality than through the way you dress? For me, fashion is not only about following trends but also about expressing your personality, the real you. In a society where people first judge you on the way you present yourself, it is important, I believe, to first accept and love yourself the way you are and express it through your own style. Confidence and self love are the keys. Even if I followed a different professional path other than getting a bachelor in business management and an MBA with a major in marketing, I kept in mind my dream of designing clothes and delivering a message of tolerance and acceptance of others.
Her line celebrates the strength and joy of African people. UNATI is a south African name, from the Xhosa people of South Africa that means God is with us. I wanted a pure African name with a strong meaning to represent the continent, says Silva. Despite the numerous tribes, cultures, languages and barriers, I see African people as one. These elements should not be reasons for division, but at the contrary, something that shows the richness and the magic of the African spirit through its diversity. God is with us because no matter the wars, genocides, economic poverty…we still stand up every day, surviving in the worst conditions, stronger than ever, and making the best of everyday. No matter how negative the news can picture us and our land, we still are positive and happy people, making the best of everything, still believing in a better tomorrow. How could we still exist and survive if God WAS NOT with us? The secret here is to look at our situation from a positive perspective.
Of course, starting a new business came with challenges. The main challenge was to find the right people to work with – people who can understand and share the same vision that I have, notes Silva. I still work on building a strong name in this market and my goal is to make UNATI a reference in the Cape Verdean fashion industry.
Silva not only wants to have a successful business, she always wants to use her brand to give back to the community. UNATI’s will is to promote equality of chances and celebrate differences by creating surprising people through unusual pieces, pictures, arrangements…showing that beauty can be anywhere especially where you dont expect it. We want to shock and get away from the politically correct, in order to make people remember and think about what they saw. The change will not be immediate but at least we want to sow doubt in people’s mind, says Silva.
UNATI also looks to support Colmeia, an association for kids with mental disabilities, especially autism. We are trying to support Colmeia by giving them more visibility, passing their message on and inviting people to give their support. We want people to have another look at these kids, and give them a chance to integrate themselves into society, treat them with respect and help them evolve. Also, we plan on raising funds through the sale of pieces and awareness campaigns in order to help families who have financial difficulties to meet the needs of their special kids. This meets our mission of promoting difference and equality of chance, says Silva.