Since moving to Wethersfield from Trinidad and Tobego in 1991, Sevanne S. Ngamariju, now a Hartford resident, has worked in the airline business and the insurance industry.
Her heart has since led her take a leap into a completely different field.
“But my calling was retail,” said Ngamariju, who just opened retail store toward the back of Old Avon Village. “I really took a plunge, a big dilution in where I was going. My heart is really fashion design, but retail is really a slash component to it. I figure I can do the retail first and wean my own pieces eventually based on how things go…. I’m just trying to live the dream, you know?”
Ngamariju has fashions designs on paper that she’d like to see produced and if her business takes off, her goal is to make clothing on-site and distribute. Like story ideas constantly flow through a writer’s head, Ngamariju constantly is conceptualizing possible designs based on what she sees, whether it’s an interesting pattern, inspiration from how a fence looks or something she dreams.
“I’ve been designing clothing since I was six. I’ve been drawing sketches since I was that young. It’s something that was in me,” Ngamariju. “I’ve actually seen some of my drawings from back then become actual pieces. This is without looking at anything. I really don’t follow fashion. I’m not a fashionista in that sense, so things really come to me.”
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone every day with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
This is her first store, but she started off working from home. She'd also wheel a cart of clothes to college campuses across the state, such as her alma mater, Trinity College, Wesleyan University and Eastern Connecticut State University and set up shop at a booth.
“I like the hussle,” Ngamariju said.
She launched a website to sell designer lines on Feb. 1 and all of the items in her store are available for purchase online via PayPal.
Ngamariju is drawn to retail because she’s an avid shopper herself.
“I believe there’s a market for everyone. Everyone has a little niche they can fit into,” Ngamariju said. “The retail part is the buying part and using that eye that I have to find other designers’ pieces. I do believe all designers have something going on and we’re all connected somehow.”
Walk into Sev Shak and you will see a lot of color, shimmer and funky patterns, from high-end bakinis, pants, jeggings and dresses to bags, shoes and accessories. The two major designer lines she carries are Phax and Paradizia. The rest are predominantly based in the United States, namely California and New York.
Ngamariju looks for pieces that have “something about it” to sell in her store.
“It could be a small detail on it,” Ngamariju said. “Every piece in here has something clever about it that makes it wild.”
She has formed connections with many designers and manufacturers through networking. Ngamariju said she has been turned down when she approached designers about distributing their products when she first set her eyes on retail.
“Some are more willing because maybe times are tough and they want to open that up,” Ngamariju said. “So, now it’s kind of like it’s a bad time, but it’s a good time if you know what I mean. It’s about [money] at the end of the day. They want less dry business even if this means we open to little businesses, small shops.You’ll find a lot of big names are starting to compromise a little bit more, like Rocawear…. You’re going to find that more and more. I’m hoping it’s not going to get worse, but this is what’s changing in the economy right now. It’s a great opportunity for people like me, for small businesses to kind of jump in there.”
The store is located at 45 East Main St. in Building 45. For more information, call 203-813-1272 or visit Sev Shak’s website, www.sevshak.com.