Anifa Mvuemba, the 32-year-old fashion designer and founder of the Beyoncé-approved brand, Hanifa, gets her sense of self-determination from her mother. “She has a go-getter spirit; she doesn’t let anything get in her way when she wants something,” she says.
The same could be said of Mvuemba, who is entirely self-taught, and started her womenswear brand from the ground up in Washington D.C. when she was in her early twenties. She learned how to sew, how to use Photoshop, how to design a website — everything — all on her own.
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Mvuemba moved to the United States with her parents, who fled the war in their native Congo, when she was four years old. Both her mother and father worked in business, but it was her mother — always in a bold red lip and tailored suit — who inspired her fashion sense, specifically her eye for quality and detail. She also instilled in her an appreciation of fine jewelry as well.
“She has this one large gold ring that is made up of a bunch of tiny little flowers,” Mvuemba says lustfully. “I’ll get it from her one day…” She remembers her mother buying this piece, and other exquisite gold jewelry like it, on their frequent trips to visit family in Dubai.
When we spoke, Mvuemba was just less than a month away from becoming a mother herself to a baby girl — her first with her fiance. Naturally, it’s got her thinking about heirlooms, and what pieces she’ll pass down in the future.
“Everyone assumes that because I design clothes, I’m going to be like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t wait for her to wear this and put this on her!’ But the whole thing is so overwhelming,” she said. “You need so much stuff for a baby. So, yeah, her style will come when she gets here.”
Her sister helped her put together a registry, and Mvuemba’s fiance is a big help as well. “He’s also into fashion, and he’s probably purchased more stuff than I have for her as far as clothing and sneakers,” she said.
When Mvuemba and her fiancé were thinking about getting engaged, they had conversations about what she liked and didn’t like in terms of jewelry. But when it came to the proposal, the entire thing was a surprise, and he handled it like a pro. “It was perfect, and the ring was perfect too,” she recalls. On her finger is a 2.75-carat round-cut diamond on a thin band with a double-halo crown. When asked if it was a natural diamond, she had to consult her fiance for answers. (It is, he confirmed in the background.)
Now, there’s another reason to celebrate. “He was like, “babymoon?? Push present??” Mvuemba recalled when she informed her fiance of his continued duties. “I told him he had to get with the times,” she said with a laugh. She’s got her eye on natural diamonds, of course. Perhaps another tennis bracelet. “I want to collect them,” she said. They also make for good heirlooms. “It’s definitely something I want to pass down to my daughter,” she said. “There’s a memory attached to it.”