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I want to give back to Africa – Melissa

Melissa Oehlers is a multi talented fashion designer and one of the most vibrant designers in the Netherlands.The owner of GHIMELLS label is also a motivational speaker. A familiar face in the entertainment industry in the Netherlands because she designs for top musicians. Melissa also designs wears for Feyenoord Football Club. Artistes, footballers, their supporters,children feel comfortable in her brand. The top designer is planning to give back to Africa, her ancestral home.

She told Green Savannah Diplomatic Cable that she targets Nigeria because of her population and the warmness of its people.


Give us an insight into your background?

I was born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands on 16th of April 1983. I am a Dutch fashion designer of Surinamese descent. My mother and I established a beauty salon in 2002 which I later took over in 2005. As a child growing up, I dreamt of being my own boss and I worked hard to actualise my dream.

I graduated as a hair stylist and Makeup artist from the Mieke Petiet School in Amsterdam. I was also selected for the Masters class called “Gruppo select”. While doing this, my passion for creativity improved. After the Master class, I was admitted to Academy Artemis where I successfully completed my Fashion training. I later founded my own couture house GHIMELLS.

How did you come about your company name?

The name GHIMELLS is a combination of my sisters name Ghitana and her own name. I had always believed that I will be my own boss and when I run my own company; I will give it the same name as my mother’s company. Family is very important to me and that’s the reason why I decided to brand my own haute couture with my mothers

What makes your brand different?

GHIMELLS represents feminists, elegance chic with a touch of sexiness. The core mission of GHIMELLS is to provide women with high quality garments that will make them feel special and elegant at any time of the day. This mission is brought into reality at the headquarters of GHIMELLS on Hoogeveenenweg 110 in Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel.

The studio where the haute couture clothes are carefully produced by hand is equipped with the right sewing machines, lock machines, other machines, and materials.

GHIMELLS strives for excellent communication both internally and externally. We encourage good interaction with customers. Furthermore, much attention is paid to external communication, as this is very important. GHIMELLS therefore makes much use of social media to inform customers about new collections, promotions and campaigns. Interaction with customers is considered very important and we see our customers as Queens!

Why are you introducing GHIMELLS brand into Africa especially Nigerian market?

My root is Suriname and Africa is the ancestral home of many Surinamese, therefore, an investment in any African nation is like giving back to my ancestral home. Besides, African women dress powerfully and I have what it takes to give them their taste. If you also look at it, Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and one of the fastest growing economies in the world,therefore it is the destination of any business woman or man with foresight. Another unique thing about Nigeria is that its film industry is the second largest in the world. What that means is that there is a huge market for good designers among those in the entertainment industry. I design for some in the entertainment industry in the Netherlands. At GHIMELLS, every woman is special regardless of her age or body structure. This explains one of the reasons why we introduced children collections.

You are also a motivational speaker. You have impacted positively on the youths in the Netherlands. What plans do you have for Nigeria being the biggest country in Africa in terms of population?

The Youth is the future of any country. Any nation that refuses to build its youth is planning for crisis in future . For this reason, I devout part of my time for youth motivation. Young men and ladies need someone to inspire them and help them in their journeys. If the youth are well motivated, reaching the top of their careers will be easy. You are right that Nigeria has the largest population in Africa. what it means is that whatever affects Nigeria will affect other African countries and by extension the world. Therefore, the future of Nigerian youth must be secured through various forms of empowerment programmes.

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