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By day, 30-year-old Cecily Habimana is a fundraising extraordinaire at Washington D.C.’s Atlas Performing Arts Center.  By night, you can find her at home carefully cutting bright, bold African fabrics and sewing together the pieces of her fashion design dreams.

Habimana is an artist;  a dancer, seamstress and designer all in one. And she’s equally in love with business. She only leaves time in each day for the things she loves.

“My mom is an artist and I grew up under her making jewelry,” she says. “I started sewing when I was about 12. She showed me the basics and I ran with it. By my sophomore, junior year of high school, I started making prom dresses for friends. In college I didn’t have any other job but sewing. “

The name for her business came just as easily as her sewing skills: Simply Cecily. Her mother chose the name while Cecily was in high school, and she immediately loved it. From high school through 2011, Simply Cecily only created custom orders.

Habimana went on to earn a business degree from Howard University and obtained her MBA from George Washington University. Since dancing is also a passion, she began to study African dance in 2000 when she went to Howard. Her studies spurred a trip to Guinea in 2004.

“From there I fell in love with dance and the culture and I wanted to learn French,” she says. “If I hadn’t studied West African dance I wouldn’t be interested in the fabrics.”

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