CLEVELAND — Eden Bavqra stays close to her culture through the clothes that she makes.

What You Need To Know

  • Eden Bavqra is a refugee from Congo

  • She said she moved to the United States to seek better opportunities

  • She said that she owned a store that sold traditional African clothing

“We call it kitenge in Afrikaan[s],” Bavqra said while sewing an item for a client.

Bavqra is a refugee from Congo. It’s her goal to make traditional African clothes popular in America. She said it’s her version of the American dream.

“Most of my customers, they are African, you know. Africans like kitenge. Africans like dresses [and] blouse[s.] For them, I can say they like [it] because it is our clothes of culture,” Bavqra said.

Bavqra said she owned a store in Africa where she sold the type of traditional clothing that she specializes in today. She said she couldn’t let her refugee status stop her from pursuing her dreams in America.

“It is my skill, and I paid money for it, and I like it, and it was my dream,” Bavqra said while measuring. “When I was young, I always say like, ‘I wish one day I could be a tailor and I could be like a fashion designer.’ That is why I have to keep it [up].”

Bavqra came to the United States in 2019 to seek better opportunities. 

“For us to be better, we have to be a refugee [in order] to come to America,” Bavqra said.

She said that she remembers a time when she and her mom would imagine what life would be like if they could live in America.

“My mom was being like, pushing to say like, 'if you, if you, if you make it, like, if you make it, and one day if God [allows], I can take you to the USA,'” Bavqra said while picking out fabrics for her designs. “Thanks [to] God, today, I am to the USA and I think I want to make it more than [before]. That is why I’m very proud and I am very happy to be here in the USA.”

Now that she’s here, Bavqra said she hopes she can open a store again to sell traditional African clothes to Ohioans. She’s already planning out her vision for the store.

“We call it like atelier in our culture, we call it atelier. That is my dream — to get a big [store], and to get people which I can be training, and to get more machines, and to be my own company and to be a boss,” Bavqra said.

Although Bavqra said that she feels accomplished because she made it here, she still has another goal: to share her culture’s clothes with Cleveland.

“I am happy. Always when I find myself [at] my machine sewing, I feel like [it reminds me of] my country,” Bavqra said.

If you’re interested in purchasing clothes from Bavqra, visit her Instagram page.