Mildred Atieno Onyaye, fondly known as Milly, is the new crop of fashion bloggers who infuse passion for fashion, writing and recording every image and using new media tools.
Her tools to communicate fashion include photography, video and commentary, all shared on the internet.
A daughter of a professional seamstress, Milly a girl from Gem in Nyanza province, was not interested in sitting with her mother cutting patterns of Kitenge and working the sewing machine. She was only 20 years old then.
She had just completed high school and was more interested in getting out to the world to see what it has to offer, than settling for long hours of threading and spinning a sewing machine.
Milly did get out to see the world. As a trained kindergarten teacher in Germany, she offers pedagogic and social support to children between the ages of 1 to 3, at the Evangelishe Kirche in Bremen.
Apart from her passion of working with children, she is a mother to a 7-year-old son, and happily married to a Ghanaian spouse.
She runs a highly-rated fashion blog “Styled by Milly” which she uses to share her life experiences and love for fashion. She started blogging when she realized she wanted to share all the pictures she took of her amazing outfits.
“I used to ask my husband to take random pictures in different outfits to inspire people, mostly ladies who do not know how to combine their outfits, and it was a fun thing to do”.
After a while, Milly started receiving positive feedback from people who saw her pictures online. That is when the idea to start a blog was born.
Last year, she set out to try her skills on designing her own clothes. Though Milly maintains that she had close to zero knowledge on how to draw patterns, cut them and stitch an outfit, she trusted her guts.
“I think at the back of my mind, it was always something that I wanted to do, but I was not so sure, I had cold feet and procrastinated until I made up my mind to go for it”.
With support from her husband, she bought a sewing machine and little by little began to making strides in her new-found hobby. The progress has been amazing. She is now taking classes to improve her skills in design.
On her blog, she mixes contemporary Western fashion with African pieces that combine modern and tradition trends.
Her connection to Ghana, has helped her take advantage of the quality of fabrics in different textures and colours. She says for one to stand out in fashion, one must create something unique.
Stepping into her second year of blogging, she is targeting to turn her enterprise into an economic venture. She understands the work involved: networking with other fashion designers and brands; showcasing and advertising her brands to the community, something she is very keen to do.
She is cognisant of the potential social media presents, and believes that it can be turned into a money-making venture. A strong believer, Milly says having faith and trusting in God is one way towards achieving life and personal goals.
She is motivated to inspire women of African descent to remain classy without losing the decency. She remembers her mother guiding her as a girl child about the importance of maintaining dignity as a woman. “You don’t have to expose yourself, or be almost naked to be considered beautiful”. She echoes her mother’s words.
It is such sentiments that go along in modelling her personal perspective on a blog that aims to enhance self-image, self-love, self-care, and at the same time maintain decent postures and appearance.
She regrets that many social media users post indecent images without a second thought on the impact this would have on their lives a few years down the line.
Her concept is to be modest, classy and presentable in the eyes of the public. Milly believes that as a mother, she is already a role model and takes due consideration on what images she publishes.
“I want when my husband looks at the pictures to be proud and say, hey that is my wife”. It is all a matter of respect, if you don’t respect yourself, you cannot expect anyone to respect you as much, she quips.
She is working on a YouTube channel as her next forum to showcase fashion.
She also emphasizes on creating a balance within so many other activities and responsibilities. “Social media is addictive and can take a toll on you, so one needs to create focus and set small but achievable targets”. She explains.
Asked on how she manages to sustain interest for her blog, she avers that, to create good content, one must put in extra work. This includes waking up early, having a routine that works for you and investing time and personal effort to achieve your goals.
Her parting shot for African women in Germany, is to use available opportunities here to learn, to invest in knowledge, in self-image, and being the best they can be, rather than always thinking of materialistic gains.
She hopes that African women in Germany can unshackle from chains of fear, caused by challenges related to language, culture and integration and continue setting high goals.