At times following our passions can be difficult when we are raised in African households and we succumb to societal and familial expectations. Recently, I have noticed that more people in our generation are following their dreams straight out of school with only their education, a few years of work experience and their drive to sustain them. Maryam Garba is a prime example of this and in her article for Ayiba, she writes about her experience going from Doctor-to-be to Designer.

When I first came to the United States to attend Stanford University in 2006, I was certain I was going to be a doctor. I had been good at the sciences in my previous schools in Nigeria and the UK, and everyone told me I would make a great doctor so I decided to be a pre-medical student in college. However, after almost four years of pre-medical studies, I began having doubts about my decision to pursue a career in medicine. My strengths seemed to lie more on the creative side, outside of the sciences.

While I was still debating my decision to attend medical school, I uncovered a passion I never knew I had; it was a love for fashion design. I decided to postpone medical school for a year and attend graduate school in education instead. During this time, I started to create designs and sew them into clothes. Shortly thereafter I started to take part in regional fashion shows. These fashion shows opened multiple doors, and soon I was travelling to Boston, New York, and San Francisco to exhibit my designs and participate in fashion shows.

By the time I completed graduate school at Harvard Univeristy in 2011, I decided to take my fashion design more seriously. I took on a full-time job in consulting and I simultaneously started my fashion business, which I called Maryam Garba LLC. My consulting job provided the resources for me to grow my fashion line. In November 2012, Maryam Garba LLC started sales, and in January 2013, I transitioned from my full time job in consulting to running the fashion brand full time and we have been growing ever since.

The Maryam Garba LLC brand serves professional women who wish to stand out in the workplace. With a loyal client base and several collections under its belt, the brand is well positioned to continue to meet the needs of today’s modern, professional woman. Maryam Garba LLC is currently developing expansion opportunities in Europe and Africa, so we’re certainly on our way to becoming a global company.