A Fort Saskatchewan woman has found a way to give back through fashion.
Jibs Abitoye designs her clothing line in Fort Saskatchewan, but the items are produced in Nigeria.
Abitoye immigrated to Canada from Nigeria eight years ago. When she went back to visit family a few years ago, she said her former home had changed.
“Certain areas looked really poor compared to five years before when I’d visited. I thought, ‘I have to do something about this.’”
Abitoye, who’s also a Fort Saskatchewan city councillor, began hiring Nigerian contractors to help bring Divineity Fashion to life.
“Nigerians are very big on fashion and colour. I thought this would be a great way to empower women and bring business to them,” Abitoye explained. “There are multiple people that create one outfit. Someone does the detailing. Someone puts in the buttons.”
She said it’s important to her to have a business that is socially responsible.
“You’re not just buying these clothes to look good; the other part is that you’re doing it for a good cause. You’re putting food on someone’s table,” Abitoye said. “It’s not just about being profitable.”
The small businesses impact is already being felt in her former home.
A portion of profits has a local impact, with money going towards organizations supporting victims of domestic violence.
“I’ve been a victim of domestic violence as well. I know what that’s like. Ten years later and I’m still shaken by the incident.”
Abitoye recently returned from New York Fashion Week where she showcased her designs. She launched her business just a few months earlier, in November 2019.