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In keeping up with the celebration of African talents, we are introduced into the lives of the twins Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim who have made important contributions into the world stage through their sense of fashion and even through their fashion house Mataano. When celebrities line up to be counted, the twins are ranked fairly among the movers and shakers on the world stage.

Born of Somali parents, the twins had escaped from Somalia in fear of the war that ravaged the country and they ended up in the United States in the early 1990s and their walk in the fashion world was aided by their mother who regularly bought fashion magazines for them, and through this, a passion was created in them. Their parents were also oblivious of the fashion gurus right under their roof, in fact, the parents expected them to take professional careers.

Passion for fashion saw the twins enroll in fashion houses for instance Idyl got an internship at Betsey Johnson while Ayaan was based at Jill Stuart. Their exposure was enhanced as Idyl learned about design techniques and color combinations while Ayaan gained knowledge on the infusion of classic and vintage fabrics while adding a modern air to it. The growth led to the establishment of their fashion line that is named after them and the line focuses on women apparel.

When asked on why they had not thought of working in some of the established houses such as Vogue, their response was both baffling and affirmative on their identity as Africans in the diaspora. They argued that:

 ‘It’s the idea that you’re fearless, and there’s no one that can stand in your way.”

The story of these two is critical especially as it spells out the potential that is inherent in every human being; the circumstances should not determine how high one flies, rather, one’s circumstances should act as motivation for achieving new heights every day. The idea of Mataano was conceptualized when the twins got to a new land;

"We first fell in love with fashion when we first moved to this country [US] and to assimilate; we thought the best way to connect with people is how you dress.

The need to assert oneself should not be held down by negative energy from one’s environment. The twins sought to represent their African origin, but they also had to find a way of connecting with the people in their new environment and the success that they enjoyed was based purely on merit and excellence that they achieved in their undertaking, the same excellence that made them noticed by the likes of Oprah.

The important message that the story of Mataano presents is that being an African should not be viewed as a limiting factor, rather, it should be a source of inspiration in the effort to conquer the world just like the twins did. The achievements that they had make them proud of where they come from.

They said that:

We love that we’re from Somalia, but we’re New Yorkers. We love that we can pull our inspiration from Somalia and at the same time have a modern, sleek New York appeal.

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