By Makula Dunbar
It’s Friday night in Maryland. Instead of getting ready to attend a party of some sort, Nina Baksmaty, 30, is packing to attend what will be one of her most eventful shindigs yet. Invited by the guest of honor and editor-in-chief of VOGUE Italia, Franca Sozzani — Baksmaty will showcase her line, Koshie O to the Italian Ambassador in New York.
Even before the official 2011 launch of Koshie O, Baksmaty began gaining unexpected attention. Aside from Italy’s fashion leaders, Koshie O was and is most appreciated in Ghana, the place where it all started.
“I went to a market and picked up this beautiful fabric. I made an easy-flow outfit; ready to wear. I was only in Ghana for 30 days so I wanted to make something where the fitting wouldn’t be difficult,” said Baksmaty recalling the first Koshie O item she ever created.
While in school, Baksmaty often wore clothes that she made — as well as designs made and sent by her mother from Ghana. Already a world traveler, she knew at 20 years old that pursuing an education in the United States would be the best way for her to excel professionally. In 2002, she came to the U.S. permanently, and now only visits Ghana during the holidays.
After graduating from Missouri’s Westminster College with a degree in Biology, Baksmaty discovered — through an unfulfilling pharmaceutical internship — that she wanted to pursue fashion seriously. Originally born in Ghana, where her mother was a designer who participated in runway shows, Baksmaty says just recently she realized she was destined to be a designer.
“I’ve always liked fashion, this was one of those things that I feel was meant to be when I look back at my history and background. My grandfather was a prominent tailor who migrated from Lebanon to Africa. My mother was a top-notch seamstress and designer and recently I found out I was named after Nina Ricci the Italian designer,” Baksmaty said.
With two brothers living on the East coast, Baksmaty traveled between New York and Missouri while at Westminster. Around 2008, she began making sales — the first to a woman in Maryland. Ever since, Koshie O has continued to blossom.
“I started to trade and that’s when I realized how good I was at marketing and branding. It was a turning point in my life, because before I wanted to go to Pharmacy school,” she said.