When OkayAfrica writer Jacqueline Traoré spoke with Sarah Diouf last July, we knew she would be on our 2018 100 Women list. Her ingenuity as founder and editor in chief of fashion, beauty and lifestyle publication NOIR, and creator of the affordable online retail brand Tongoro, accompanied by her deep sense of responsibility to “put on” for the city of Dakar, Senegal (and Africa as a whole for that matter), makes her more than worth celebrating.
Diouf’s views on Tongoro and the opportunities it creates for others show leadership and altruism. “...While Tongoro is 100 percent a business, I have this very ethical state of mind. In my mind, I had to create something that impacts the lives of people that work with me. It was important for me to make something here [Dakar] that would reflect what I stand for. I'm coming up with an African line which is made in Africa by African artisans and hopefully the more I grow, the better they get at their work and the more financial freedom they gain through the work that they're providing,” she told Traoré. Although Diouf keeps the two endeavors separate, NOIR, like Tongoro, is made in Africa for Black and African women around the world. Diouf hopes to not only cultivate this global reach to the Diaspora, but add to the industry-wide conversation of identity and representation. “Prior to launching Tongoro, I had been observing the African fashion market and saw a gap that I thought I could fill,” she tells Business Day Wanted Magazine. “I believe there is still work to be done but over the past four years, the African design community has started showing the world and telling the story of our identity as a continent, and as countries. I had one to tell.”
Telling those stories, both in the physical and digital realm, is hard work, but work that she loves. “Working for myself, managing the projects, directing the creative aspect, having to come up with something new on a regular basis, and selling are the common points; on one hand I'm selling content, imagery, inspiration, on the other, a physical product/lifestyle,” she tells Harper’s BAZAAR. “It's a never ending process, but I am passionate about it.”