A London-based African-Caribbean Fashion designer overcame homelessness and went on to establish a successful fashion label.
London-based fashion designer, Mariatu Turay, is the owner of Gitas Portal. The fashion brand inspires women to stand out, be bold and win in all aspects of their lives.
Turay was born in London and raised in Freetown, Sierra Leone. At the age of 16, Turay was forced to leave Sierra Leone due to the Civil War.
The designer moved to the USA and started working as a hair braider at a salon. She then gained secretarial and office skills.
Turay returned to the UK with a huge entrepreneurial spirit. She used her hairdressing skills to pay her way through university.
The designer was briefly homeless at times. She experienced homelessness when she lived in the US and UK.
Turay said, “My family life and dreams were interrupted overnight”. She went from having a “good life” to having “nothing”.
“No one in their right mind wants to be homeless and face the uncertainty of having nothing”.
Turay never lost her determined spirit. “Trauma” was on all levels but she never lost her way at “the most challenging of times”.
The inspirational designer became a civil servant in the UK. After her success in this role, she decided to pursue her passion for fashion and creativity.
Having dual Sierra Leonean and Barbadian heritage, Turay merged different multicultural influences into her work. This gave her brand a broader appeal.
Gitas Portal was established in 2011. The brand is an affordable, luxury brand, known for sophisticated feminine cuts and creative use of West African textiles.
The Gitas Portal motto is: Be Bold, WIN, Wear Colour. It is for women who are unapologetic about their beauty and expresses their style with confidence.
The first Gitas Portal boutique opened in London in 2016. Turay’s goal is to set a benchmark for African inspired fashion pieces, promoting quality.
Her journey highlights that anyone can make their dreams come true.