What do you do? and Why?

What do you do? and Why?

We have all been there when someone you meet at a rendezvous asks what you do for a living.  For years my response “marketing for a pharmaceutical company” would immediately cause eyes to roll and the whole party mood would be dampened with the  thought of spending a part of the evening with me the anorak who works for a drug company.   So it was a welcome relief to be able to reply differently, I run a clothing brand.  I kid you not, the street red associated with this is not to be sniffed at.  Gals and lads alike move closer, eyes wide in wonder and are intrigued beyond measure.  The usual reply is oh how exciting, what is your brand called?  Reina de Santiago®, I reply thinking that they may not have heard of it and will move on to another topic.  This causes more intrigue, what does that name mean, I tell them “the Queen of Santiago” and at this point, the afore mentioned party attendee is gobsmacked.  What do you sell soon follows and where do you sell it. I tell them mainly online but that I show case at Art and design events such as Africa fashion week, Schaufenster.  The phone is whipped out and my credentials are immediately checked by entering Reina de Santiago® into google……and sure as death and taxes……..the online store comes up.       One guy in the BA lounge at Heathrow bought a classic shirt immediately for his girlfriend.  So I now have the “what do I do for a living” drill down pat or so I thought until I met a techy guy at a friends drinks party.  My eyes rolled when he told me that he was an IT programmer.  I gave him the once over from top to bottom, the anorak gave it away.  I enquired do you by any chance go train spotting?  His answer was a resolute ‘no, could not imagine anything so dull he answered.  Why do you think I go train spotting he enquired, squishing his nose in a most unbecoming manner, I did not have the heart to tell him the anorak and the jesus sandals with socks were a dead give away.  Anyway, Brian (as we will call him),  then began his interrogation.   What do you do he asked?  I run a clothing brand.  You do what? was Brians reply.  My turn to be gobsmacked.  I thought I had the “what do you do for a living” down pat and here was Brian the Anorak, for whom my responses thus far were useless.  Sensing my bewilderment, Brian the anorak pulled up a chair, asked me to sit and tell him all about running a clothing brand.  In short I replied, I make clothes and then sell them.  I got the squished up nose again, this time with an open mouth…………you make clothes he mutters, eyes wide with amazement.  I’m still sitting thinking someone get me a stronger drink, this anorak is killing me.   Then almost out of left field he asks, why? This is akin to the interview question that has one stuttering…..and stutter I did.   I took a big swig of my champagne gulping down a huge mouthful.  Very unReina like I know but very necessary to deal with Brian the anorak.  I let the big gulp go down, my head swooned for a second then I caught myself, looked deep into Brians’ eyes and began my story, which I am also telling you.  It has  been 2 years since I took the brave wise or stupid decision to create Reina de Santiago® and thank you for asking me to ask myself why.   Was it a whim,  a fleeting passion or a real deep rooted desire to do something different?  I have to be honest and say it was a mix of all three but what keeps me going is the deep rooted desire to create something different.

Reina de Santiago® is comprised of a team of me, myself and I……together we live sleep and eat this brand in between being a wife and mother to two young kids.   Over the past two years, sleep has become hard currency not even available on the black market.  If you hail from any country with high inflation, you know what I’m talking about.  As for time, it is sorely lacking.  But despite this developing the brand has taught me lots, I am still learning and my passion for fabrics is not satiated.  My idea of bliss, is a couple of hours in a large fabric warehouse with bales of all sorts of cloth.  Of  course African wax is top of my list but silk satin, silk chiffon, jacquards and good old cotton sateen with a bit of elastane are hot favourites.

Reina launched with tailored shirts from the classic collection, comprised of premium cotton spiced up with Wax.  Since then we have improved on the cut allowing for Divalicious babes (Divas blessed with boobs).    Whilst meeting customers, the afore mentioned Divalicious babes would complain that they have to select a larger size to allow for the problem area….the boobs.  My first reaction was to remind these Divas, that they are divalicious and that there are many who pay good money for the problem area they are talking about.   We will still produce the tailored cut and will add the Diva cut and the wrap shirt to the mix.  Vintage inspired wax skirts have now been added to the Classic collection.   The Essential collection has been launched, it  comprises premium cotton Tees with wax appliqué motifs and African wax accessories.  Reina’s next step is to launch the Opera collection for special occasions.    The opera collection is as the name suggest is for Grand Dames who wish to make an impression that is be noticed and never just seen.   The collection features Kupure lace, african wax, silk satins and chiffons.   Here is the first of the collection.   I show Brian pictures of the collection, he likes the Pink kupure lace shift dress, topped with an african wax cape hope you do too.

Soraya in pink    IMG_2198 reduced






There is more to come…..follow us on Instagram, Facebook or our blog to be the first in the know of our flash give aways which will feature items from the full collection!

One more thing, never forget our mantra  „Never compromise on Style“.

Reina de Santiago®

Photograph credits.  Elaine Pringle Photography








Reina de Santiago® is a fashion label for elegant women. The brand philosophy is to celebrate different cultures by mixing fabrics used by women from different parts of the world to create unique pieces. Reina de Santiago® begins in West Africa with Ankara; also known as Hollandaise or African wax fabric. Reina de Santiago® is for the confident woman, who never compromises on style. She is always noticed and never just seen.

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  1. ReplyM

    Hi Jo
    So proud of you
    The clothes look great, love the pics of you in pencil skirts, you’ve still got it!
    Monsheel x

      1. ReplyEtta

        Ah wer kennt das denn nicht. War bei meinem auch (immer) öfter so. Bei zu warmen aber auch zu nasskaltem Wetter. Schon witzig, wie faul so ein Hund sein kann. Aber das macht die Vierbeiner auch wieder lisbtnewere.

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