Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Fashion from Cameroon is attaining new heights and this can be seen from the vast amount of talents and creativity that are out there from Imane Ayissi to Anggy Haif to KiRette Couture to Olivia Ervi, they are all doing their best to represent and to take fashion to a whole new level.

From this list of creativity and talent is the fashion label "Coté Minou" which was launched in 2006 by two very creative and very fashion-ABLE girls by the name of Maryanne E. Mokoko and Stephanie T. Mouapi of Laurel, MD. These ladies have not failed to deliver high quality and very innovative and glamourous designs.
Here below is my interview with da girls...happy reading!

DC: I love fashion because....!

Maryanne: Fashion is a wearable type of art, used in a variety of ways to express the type of person I have chosen to be.
Stephanie: Fashion is always changing. It allows for versatility and allows my imagination to run wild. Fashion promotes uniqueness. Everybody or most people, consciously decide how they want to portray themselves, the fun part are the reactions from the onlookers. We know everyone has an opinion and they are never wrong.

DC: If you were to choose a celebrity (male or female) to change their style, who would it be and why?

Maryanne: Not necessarily to change their style, but there are so many influential men and women in the music and film industry of which it will be my pleasure to dress. Examples are Jada and Will Smith, Alicia Keys and Common just to name but a few!
Stephanie: I would not want to change anybody's style I would rather love to style celebrities from all over the world. If I had to style any two celebrities my choices would be Rihanna and Shia Labeouf. They are consistent with their looks and I believe coming up with something for either one of them would be lots of fun.

DC: How did you come to choosing the name “Cote Minou”?

CM: Côté is french for corner. The word Minou was formulated by the combination of both of our nicknames Maryanne: coucou and Stephanie: nini and with M being the first letter of both of our last names. So in essence it is Maryanne and Stephanie's corner!

DC: Describe to us the girls (characters) behind Cote Minou in 4 adjectives?

Maryanne: Outgoing, ingenious, funny, ambitious.
Stephanie: Creative, dreamy, straight forward, laid-back.

DC: Why did you become fashion designers?

Maryanne: We wanted to put Africa on the map. We both loved drawing clothes, so we decided to turn a hobby into a lifestyle by helping people see the variety of creative ways by which one can wear theAfrican cloths. They do say you are what you wear...We are African...AKA the citizens of the birth place of fashion!
Stephanie: The love for fashion. The most important decision we made was choosing African print as our signature fabric. Designing a garment and going through the process of making it is nerve-racking. But when you see the finished product, the satisfaction is overwhelming and the feeling never gets old. The best part is watchingthe customers going crazy over the designs. I always watched out for the different ways they accessorise their outfits.
DC: Well said, by the way!
DC: Where you formally trained?

CM: No, we were not formally trained.

DC: What is the best thing of coming from Cameroon?

Maryanne: ..Good One! We have the best food and we are globally known as the citizens of "Africa in Miniature". Diversity at it's best and we try to remain at peace.
Stephanie: Our life style. The bonds we make with each other are unbreakable. If there is one thing God is proud of Cameroonians it will be the: "Love your neighbours as yourself" thing. Actually we love the neighbourhood as ourselves. It is hard to know who is blood related and who is not!

DC: Describe to us your individual fashion styles!

Maryanne: I have different styles, I consider myself to be alltogether Funky, classy, vintage, mix and match, casual..depends on where I am going.
Stephanie: I don't think I can describe my fashion style because it changes with the occasion and the season. All I can say is I like looking different from others.

DC: Who or what has inspired you?

Maryanne: Oohh ..Many driven and ambitious people in my family as well as themes such as music, movies, nature, textures, colors, patterns and so on.
Stephanie: The people who inspired me are my aunts. I have 5 aunts who can do a mean job with a sewing machine! One of them is a designer and when I was younger, she would let me design my white dresses for school. Three of them are interior designers and the other aunt sews for a living.
DC: What support did you get from your families?

Maryanne: Actually, we have gotten a lot of support from our families. Our mothers are proud, and so are our fathers. They are making sure we stay focused and level headed. We can't blame them.
Stephanie: It took a while for my family to understand what we wanted to do. They came around with little difficulty and now they are the best supporters one can wish for. So far my mom has bought 2 Coté Minou originals!

DC: How do you source out your fabrics?

CM: We source our fabrics from a variety of places. We get fabrics from Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon, as well as here in theUnited States

DC: Who does the actual sewing?
CM: We do not do all the sewing but we have a number of tailors who sew our designs.
DC: How do you decide on which model wears what outfit during a fashion shoot or show?

Maryanne: Whatever clothing fits best! For fashion shows, we take into consideration their skin tone and body and height type as well as dress size. For fashion shoots, it all depends on the theme or look we are going for with the shoot. I believe we have tried and successfully completed a variety of looks to help show the diversity in our designs.
Stephanie: There are a number of aspects to consider when picking out a model. First we put into consideration the type of event or the occasion we need the model for. Then, we consider the design therefore the body type we need. The skin tone plays a major role in picking out the fabric especially for photo shoots. I am particular about the height and the walk when it comes to runway. I prefer tall girls and a great walk that sells the garment.

DC: What are your visions for Cote Minou?
Maryanne: We intend to have a fashion house back home in Cameroon and also have our clothes available in many cities in the US and in the world.
Stephanie: Also we want to participate in as many "fashion weeks"as humanly possible!
DC: What are your academic backgrounds?

Maryanne: I have an architecture and design background .
Stephanie: I have a Biology and Social Sciences background.
DC: different, okay!
DC: Tell us your personal reaction(s) to Obama being elected president.

Maryanne: You should have seen us that night we were screaming so loud we almost lost our voices. I am truly happy about this change. He is very gifted and I hope he will be a true leader and enlighten many.
Stephanie: We popped champaign that night and drank the entire bottle! The feelings I felt that night were magical and unbelievable at first. I believe he was hand-picked and anointed by God. I pray his term is a success!
DC: Did this have an impact on you at all?

Maryanne: Yes , I can safely say prior to his campaign, I never thought that in our lifetime (well at least this early in our lifetime) we would have the opportunity to be served by a black President. He ran the best campaign ever and I hope I grow up to be as smart and intuitive as he is.
Stephanie: To me, Obama gave new meaning to the word HOPE and the concept of the American dream. The possibilities in this country are endless. This historical event has taught me never to give up on my dreams nor get discouraged. We saw his struggle and saw all the negativity he had to endure but he rose to the occasion without one dirty word. He is my Hero.
DC: He is and will continue to be an inspiration to many.
DC: How competitive is the fashion world?

Maryanne: I think the fashion world is very competitive that is why every designer should consider himself/herself as his/her own competition and strive to make himself/herself better than he/she is now.
Stephanie: The competition begins with me as a designer. I am always trying to figure ways to improve my designs. When it comes to other designers the main goal is to always be unique with your ideas. While staying unique you also have the customers in mind. It is like thinking outside the box with a lot of restraint. We cannot go too crazy yet, at this level we are doing our utmost best to appeal to our customers. The customers make the competition interesting.

DC: What has been the response so far towards your label, Coté Minou?

Maryanne: I think I can say, a great deal of people appreciate ourwork, we thank God. I once heard a customer say she wanted to change her entire closet to our clothes. She is one of our frequent customers...
Stephanie: It is unbelievable sometimes when I think of the response we have been getting. It has been great, I cannot complain! We really appreciate all the love and support we get from people out there. We are grateful to be where we are right now. God has been good to us and hopefully we are moving in the right direction.
DC: Are your clothes available internationally?

CM: Yes they are, not in stores though but we can ship orders to anywhere.

DC: How can International customers get their hands on them then?

CM: Once you select a style from our collections and send us your measurements, we then have it made for you and mailed to you. We have done so for some of our customers in Europe. You would have to pay for shipping though... The best way to contact us now is Facebook another alternative is leaving a comment on the blog so we can get back to you.
DC: Would you be putting on a fashion show in Europe – say London anytime soon or in the near future?

Maryanne: Whenever we are invited...We would love to but as of now the response is not yet, hopefully soon...
Stephanie: We are hopeful.... that will be one dream come true on the list of many dreams. We accept invitations to all corners of the globe. One of the perks of being in the fashion business is traveling and meeting people from all over the world. With any luck in the near future we will be in a city near you.
DC: What is the recipe for success in your eyes?
Maryanne: Determination, execution, persistence and evaluation. Keys to success also involve good communication and the ability to take initiative as well as complete tasks to a level of satisfaction.
Stephanie: The first ingredient is determination. You cannot give up just because things do not go as planned. Perseverance requires lots of patience and hard work. Success might be handed to you but you need to work hard to keep it; that is one thing I never forget. Learn from all the mistakes you make. Mistakes should make you smarter; they simply mean next time you will save yourself some trouble. One other ingredient is humility and never forget where you come from. Success comes and goes, so you have to be mentally ready for any changes.

Please visit them at:
Their website will be launched soon.
PS: Catch the Coté Minou girls at a fashion project which will be held here in London this autumn. Details to be disclosed at a later date ;-)
DC: Dulce Camer
CM: Coté Minou

Thanks for reading and checking the blog!
Stay sweet and definitely stay tuned


Anonymous said...

Cameroon girls are wah oh!

Why not call them Msquare?

Côté Minou said...

lol...we thought about it...
DULCE...Again Thanks for Representing Camers like this..SO Proud!

Anonymous said...

i had a wow when i stumbled upon cote minou on facebook last summer. u ladies rock! stylish and smart: an unbeatable combo. DC i really enjoyed reading this interview. your conversational style never ceases to amaze and captivate me. keep it up!


DJ ERIC Lemessie said...

Good Job indeed!
Keep it up.
Dj Eric Lemessie

Unknown said...

really proud of both of u girls!and especially my cousin stefy!i am delighted to know that ur inspiration comes from our family!just to wish lot of courage and succes in ur great job!u have to be awarded for represeting the african and particularly Cameroonian fashion!go ahead!-bd