Written by Shahid Meighan
From the time she was a child, Aline Dazogbo’s upbringing was marked by constant moving, traveling and exposure to different cultures, places, and people. During her youth, the “nomadic” lifestyle she grew to know and appreciate weighed heavily on her and the friendships she was forced to prematurely end. By the time she reached adulthood, the Benin-born entrepreneur and fashion designer had already lived in 12 different countries mostly throughout West Africa, France and finally landed in the U.S.A.
“When I was actually growing up, I didn’t like [moving]. You lose friends on the way and you have to get up, see your room packed, all these boxes, having to stay in hotels,” Dazogbo said, reminiscing about the childhood that influenced her appreciation for travel. Now, as an adult with a thriving fashion business, Aline says that the transient style she initially loathed has helped her develop the adaptive skills and the ability to persevere that are often needed in the entrepreneur world. The skills and passions she has developed over the years led her to launch AlineLedemin, a fashion website featuring curated artwork and fashion pieces created by both herself and artisans from all over the African continent. A self-described “social entrepreneur”, Aline very much believes in the power of collaboration and paying homage to those who helped her get to where she is now in her entrepreneurial journey.
“As much as I love being independent and an individual, creative force, I have never walked by myself. I have to give credit back to the people who have helped me.” She gave a shout out to her mentor, Olga, who currently lives in San Francisco. Aline credits Olga with encouraging her to push her to reach limits that she didn’t even know existed.
Now, Aline gives back by working with talented artisans in Africa and connecting them with the resources and opportunities that they would otherwise probably not have access to. According to Aline, many of these artisans are talented and gifted but simply do not have access to the resources and opportunities to promote their work. This is where Aline comes into the picture. Using her talents and platform, Aline’s goal is to “build a bridge” for African artisans so they can receive the attention and exposure that she knows they deserve.
Like all entrepreneurs, Aline has dealt with her own hardships. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic decimated business owners, and Aline was no exception. She previously owned two fashion stores in San Francisco, but after COVID hit she was forced to close them both down. According to Aline, she went into a “dark place” following the closings, worrying that she wouldn’t be able to continue to work in fashion.
“I was actually thinking I might never be able to exercise my work and my passion was considered non-essential,” said Aline. However, two years later she has been able to do a complete 180 and reconnect with her inner creativity and passion for fashion. For Aline, her work is as much spiritual as it is visual.
“I believe that in this life we are also spirits and we need to be happy. We need to enlighten our spirit and we need to be happy. The way I do that is through my tools and my passions.”