Former UH student is Houston’s newest design star
Former UH student Chigozie Anaele was one of 18 featured up-and-coming designers at Houston’s Inaugural Fashion Week and will have her first ever trunk show Saturday. Anaele grew up in London, spent two years in Nigeria and settled in the United States at the age of 15.
At the tender age of 22, she had already earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Texas Southern University. While studying for her master’s in engineering at UH last spring, her career took an unexpected turn.
Anaele designed clothing as a hobby and had contributed a few pieces for Delta Sigma Theta’s fashion show back in January. Shortly thereafter, she started receiving calls about the clothes.
“The amount of interest really took me by surprise,” Anaele said. “I wasn’t quite sure if I was ready.”
But soon, business was booming — and Anaele could hardly keep up with the orders coming in — much less her engineering courses. So at 24, Anaele dropped out of the University to start her own company — KACHI Designs.
With no formal training in fashion design, she plunged head first into creating her collection.
“Without even looking at a sewing machine, I just told myself, ‘you can sew,’” Anaele said. “I was always good at math, so I would just look at the shape of the material and break it down. I can’t explain it — I just have to put it on God because it all came so natural to me.”
Soon she had a full collection filled with bright, bold and colorful prints. Anaele attributes her style to the two years she spent in Nigeria as a young girl.
“My parents thought it was important for me to learn about my culture,” Anaele said. “The time I spent there has had a huge impact on my fashion design, style and use of bold colors. That is where I learned the value of material.”
A chance meeting with Time Broadcasting’s Houston public relations specialist Linda Anukwuem at the AfriPRO Expo — an event for Houston African business professionals — set KACHI Designs on the fast track to success.
Anukwuem was blown away by Anaele’s talent and immediately offered her PR services.
The two began working together, and shortly thereafter Anukwuem was able to secure KACHI Designs a coveted spot in the Houston Independent Fashion Group’s Fashion in the Park runway show.
Being so new and inexperienced, Anaele was intimidated by the prospect but she accepted and worked from dawn until dusk completing and perfecting her runway pieces.
“It was intimidating at first — I was afraid that people wouldn’t see my work the way I see it,” Anaele said. “But the collection turned out great, and everyone was so helpful and encouraging.”
Since the fashion show, KACHI Designs has taken off and Anaele hopes to open a few boutiques in the upcoming year.
As for the immediate future of KACHI Designs, there will be a “Daytime Fun: Sip and Shop” trunk show Nov. 6 at Zanzibar.
The soiree kicks off at 2 p.m. with a mini fashion show, finger foods, and free drinks until 3 p.m.
Anaele will also be launching her website and guests are invited to browse the collection and pick up a KACHI original.