Ten months is a long time. It’s even longer when you’re waiting to move to a new country and start a new life. When Daniela Mawufemor Rogers was waiting those 10 months to get her visa to come to the United States from Ghana, she found a way to pass the time that turned into a passion: sewing.
While she awaited her move overseas, a friend of Rogers’ in Africa taught her to sew using basic patterns and a hand-crank sewing machine.
It’s been about three years since Rogers moved to the States, and in that time she’s gotten married, started her business, Mawufemor, and had her first child. Rogers met her husband John, a Tupelo native, when he was living in Ghana. They decided to get engaged and make the move back to Mississippi, where the couple eventually tied the knot at the Oxford Courthouse. She’s also traded the hand-crank sewing machine for an electric one.
“The electric sewing machine was the breakthrough,” she laughed.
Rogers decided to turn her talent for sewing into a full-time gig after her son was born. African fabrics with bold, colorful patterns are her signature style. According to Rogers, African prints are on everything in Ghana. People wear them to church, formal events, casual outings and when they run errands like going to the grocery store.
Rogers brought a lot of fabrics with her when she moved from Africa. She’s used a lot of them up now, so her sister, who still lives in Africa, will mail her fabric that she can’t find in the U.S.
Having spent most of her life in Ghana, Rogers said she does get homesick from time to time. She keeps up with her family there, as evidenced by the two clocks above her desk — one displays the time in Oxford and the other the time in Ghana. Rogers loves working with African fabrics not only because of the bright, joyful colors, but also because the fabrics remind her of home.
“I like using the African fabrics,” she said. “It makes me feel connected to Ghana.”
Her parents are also still in Ghana. Rogers hasn’t been home since 2016, but she and her husband and son are planning a trip over to see them next year. It will be the first time they’ll meet their grandson in person, although Rogers said they Facetime often.
Although she admits adjusting to life in a new country hasn’t always been easy, Rogers said she loves living in Oxford, with its small-town feel and abundance of community activities.
When she started out sewing, Rogers stuck to making simple bags and skirts but has since learned how to sew more intricate patterns.
“I got on Pinterest and started making more complicated bags,” Rogers said. “Pinterest is good.”
Most of her products are bags: messenger bags, diaper bags, duffel bags, crossbody and shoulder bags and bags of all sizes down to pouches and pencil cases. Rogers also makes skirts, dresses, headwraps and, as she said, “anything that needs to be sewn.”
“For a lot of the bags I use my own patterns,” she said. “It’s fun coming up with ideas.”
While she makes a number of bags to stock her Etsy shop, she also takes custom orders. The dresses and skirts she makes are usually made to order. Through her Etsy shop, she’s now sold items to customers in 45 states and seven other countries. She’s hoping to add those other five states soon.
“It’s impressive to see that my bags are in so many places,” Rogers said. “I’m going for the other five states now.”
Etsy has helped her business grow, but Rogers loves to interact with customers in person. She often sells at the Oxford Maker’s Market, which takes place every first Saturday of the month on the courthouse lawn of the historic Oxford Square.
“When I see them there it makes me smile,” Rogers said. “It’s fun to see.”