WOMEN’S WEEKLY - Gambia’s Fashion Ambassador

Friday, March 7, 2008
Ida Saine Conteh, commonly known as “Gambia’s Fashion Ambassador” was born in Peel Street in Banjul in August 1966. She was brought up by her grandparents in Bakau, where she attended Bakau Primary School. From there, she proceeded to St Joseph High School in Banjul, where she completed her high school education.

Ida has also attended numerous international trade fairs and competitions and won an awards in fashion designer. She was then known as “Chan Protege”.

Speaking to Women’s Weekly at her shop in Bakau, Ida Saine- Conteh explained that, she started sewing at a very young age. According to her, everything started when she was going to school at St Joseph. As a commerce student, she was good in needle work and accounts. She took first in the GCE O’ level exam and received many prices during her school days.

She said “when I graduated, I worked with the government of The Gambia as an accounts clerk, at the Accountant General Office. The late Abdou Denton, sponsored me to do AAT course at the Management Development Institute (MDI). But due to certain circumstances, I lost interest and finally end up joining Chan Couture shop.

The proprietress who is Chan Khan-Jallow. When I qualified, I started sewing for my friends free of charge for almost one year and the following year I started charging them small money,”she explained.

She added that it is through the little amount of money she got that her grandmother open a bank account for her and bought all the sewing materials for her. “From that money she opened a small tailoring shop in their compound and bought another
sewing machine” she said.

Determined to attain her goal, Ida Saine-Conteh employed someone to help her. After six months, she was able to buy another machine, as her business was expanding rapidly. Later on, she decided to move to another shop which is more spacious.

According to the proprietress of Ida’s Ideas Tailoring and Hair Dressing Saloon, Mrs Conteh revealed that, the best part of it is that her signature is a design of fashion of bold African fashion, fused with a universal. She showed a talent for designing exquisite haute couture African Garrments for most of the First Ladies of Nigeria and other high profile dignitaries in The Gambia and the sub-region.

She also met some presidents, ministers and also people from different calibre and culture. She also does interior decorations and decorated the first ever presidential ‘Diaz’, decoration of the 3th inauguration ceremony.

On several occasions, she represented The Gambia in exhibitions to other countries. Her products are always in fashion, as people continue to appreciate her style which is original. She has now decided to venture into the world of hair style, cosmetic. She is also the managing director of Ida’s Ideas Tailoring and Hair Dressing Saloon. Ida Saine also specialised in fashion shows and beauty contest coordination.

As the treasurer of the Association of Fashion Designers of the Gambia and financial controller of TARRU-promotions, she is deploying tremendous efforts to make donation in the sectors of education and health. Member of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Institution (GCCI), Ida Saine has become a veritable icon in The Gambian fashion industry and the world at large. She urged Gambian women not only to concentrate on their business and forget their homes, but also advised them to take good care of their families.

Author: Mariatou Ngum -Saidy