Glory Solomon, a dynamic fashion designer and writer, resides in the bustling city of Jalingo, Taraba, Nigeria. With an unwavering commitment to body positivity and embracing diversity in women, Solomon has founded NalaaAfriq, a groundbreaking socially conscious fashion brand. Balancing her pursuit of a Law degree as an undergraduate student has not deterred her from her resolve to revolutionize the African fashion landscape. Drawing inspiration from her fervent desire to empower young women, Solomon crafts stylish and affordable garments that instil confidence. When she isn’t immersed in the world of fashion, she indulges in her artistic side by painting and sketching alongside her twin sister.
From a young age, Glory Solomon discovered her innate ability to sketch and design clothing, particularly enchanted by regal garments and princess attire, most notably “Cinderella.” However, her aspirations to pursue a career in fashion faced initial scepticism. Her mother, familiar with local roadside tailors, doubted that fashion could provide a viable livelihood. Undeterred, Solomon enrolled in a computer training school during a three-month break after completing her junior secondary education.
Even after graduating from secondary school, her passion for fashion design remained unyielding. Serendipitously, at the age of 17, she became involved with Youth Making Impact (YMI) in Jalingo—an organization that empowers young entrepreneurs. As part of this community dedicated to nurturing leaders, YMI inspired and equipped Solomon with the skills needed to effect change and transformation. Fueling her fashion interests, this influential network paved the way for Solomon’s pursuit of fashion design.
Undeterred by obstacles, Solomon approached a nearby fashion design centre to express her intentions. Met with laughter and scepticism, she was asked to pay a sum of N10,000 for a three-month training program. Determined, she returned the following week with the funds in hand, becoming the sole female participant among 15 trainees and five instructors. Overcoming the challenges she faced, including sexual harassment, Solomon found solace in the words of a supportive trainer who assured her that the journey would prove worthwhile, a sentiment she would come to appreciate in the years that followed.
NalaaAfriq: A Fusion of Culture, Purpose, and Identity
Amidst her many commitments to culture, Solomon founded NalaaAfriq—a name derived from the Mumuye language. Originally “Vickńalaa,” meaning “everything is in the Hands of God,” the name was shortened to “Nalaa” for simplicity. “Nalaa” represents the “Hand of God,” while “Afriq” symbolizes her African heritage, encapsulating the essence of her brand.
Solomon holds a deep admiration for designers such as Valdrinth Sahiti, Alexander McQueen, Erica Moore, and Veekee James. Among them, Veekee James resonates deeply with her, as their respective journeys bear striking similarities. The exemplary works of these three designers have reached such heights that Solomon can discern their designs effortlessly, even without explicit attribution.
Juggling the demands of university studies and an independent business proved arduous for Glory Solomon. Nevertheless, her indomitable spirit spurred her onward, aware that her energy and resolve may wane in the years to come.
Having experienced body shaming alongside her twin sister Grace since their primary school years, Solomon developed a profound understanding of its impact. They were subjected to hurtful names like “two elephants” and “pigs,” which left them feeling unattractive and less beautiful. Despite her attempts to conform to societal expectations by trying everything possible to lose some weight, Solomon eventually realized that her body merely served as a vessel for her talents and knowledge.
Drawing from her personal experiences, Solomon began modelling for plus-size women, empowering them and becoming a beacon of inspiration for teenage girls and adult women alike.
“Whenever I get a client that’s plus size and she sees a dress on a slim 8-figured person, whom she in no way looks like, I get to sit and talk to them about the different body sizes and how clothes are supposed to fit into our bodies and not that bodies should fit into a cloth,” Glory tells The Moveee. “Slim girls aren’t excluded from body shaming too. I tell them to always wear what can fit into them and walk into any room, even when people are talking negatively about them, they shouldn’t bother. Because the way one carries himself matters. If one feels small or less beautiful, everyone will mirror that. Walk confidently and build yourself that when you speak, you’ll make people’s heads turn.”
Navigating a Complex Landscape: Triumphs Amidst Self-Reflection
Glory Solomon acknowledges the ongoing struggle to address body shaming effectively, recognizing that she herself occasionally succumbs to its pernicious influence. She views this journey as an ongoing process, devoid of a final destination. Her coping mechanism involves muting the voices of hatred and focusing on what truly matters. She believes that criticism follows both slenderness and fullness, reinforcing the notion that body shaming permeates every aspect of society.
Solomon’s path has been marked by countless moments of fulfilment. Among them, a particularly noteworthy occasion involved addressing teenagers in a secondary school, sharing her work and inspiring them to embrace intentional growth. She impressed upon them the belief that their dreams are attainable and that they should take pride in the vessels (their bodies) bestowed upon them by a higher power.
In addition to these rewarding encounters, Solomon has formed unexpected connections with individuals she once deemed unreachable, even working alongside them. When she received an award for her contributions in 2022, her mother danced jubilantly around the house, showcasing the accolade. Coincidentally, her twin sister also triumphed in a creative makeup contest, adding to the family’s joyous celebration.
A Vision for the Future: Paving the Way for Aspiring Creators
Solomon’s visionary outlook include establishing a fashion school, and offering aspiring students and interns opportunities to shape a global brand. Striving for perpetual growth, she actively pursues advanced fashion courses each year. Leveraging the power of social media, Solomon effectively extends her reach, sharing her work with audiences across vast distances. She acknowledges the complexity of navigating this realm but recognizes that organic following yields productivity.
Furthermore, through word-of-mouth referrals from friends, family, and satisfied clients, Solomon enjoys a steady stream of new clients. Leveraging her ubiquitous presence as a model, she captivates attention and establishes connections while effectively marketing her creations. Her unique approach serves as her ultimate strategy.
As a gifted and passionate creative force, Glory Solomon embarks on a transformative journey within the fashion industry, striving to reshape societal perceptions of body shaming. Through her indomitable spirit and unyielding commitment, she aims to ignite a revolution that champions self-acceptance and celebrates the beauty of all bodies.