Senegalese shop shares the tradition of waist beads in Inglewood

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- "The love, the ambiance, the people, Inglewood is a great city to be in," Aicha Lo said.

Aicha co-owns Top Diversified Fashions with her husband Bass Lo in the Downtown Inglewood Fashion District. Top Diversified Fashions has been bringing African culture to Inglewood on Market Street for nearly nine years now.

"Our shop, we do African clothes, men and women and children, and we make them," Bass said. "We design them and make them here."

Bass comes up with all the designs himself and then free hands the sewing and cutting. Bass and Aicha call Inglewood home now, but their designs called Coquette Kouture, are heavily influenced by their home country Senegal. Bass visits Senegal about every six months and brings back fabrics and waist beads.

"The waist beads are known all over Africa and I think today, it's become an everyday thing in even our modern culture," Nathalie Beasnael said.

Beasnael is from Chad, but she said she has a lot of family in Senegal and the two countries share some traditions.

Waist beads can serve many purposes, they're said to help with weight awareness and help posture. Aicha says mothers in Africa even adorn their babies with them for protection. They're also used to express a woman's sensuality.

"As a woman, like I have mine, I wear it for my husband," Aicha said. "It's more like your diamond on your waist, but it's hidden for your husband."

Even the different colors of beads can have different meanings.

"Royalty, the purple. The yellow, meaning, you know, the gold, the richness. Wearing your waist beads has a lot in terms of who a woman is," Beasnael said. "It actually is a close connection, reminder, of who I am, where I'm from."

Aicha said she loves seeing more people embrace African culture. From the waist beads, to the head wraps to the traditional clothing patterns, it makes a community more unified.

"It has so many purposes, that as a woman, you can't help but to wear it," Aicha said. "Nowadays African culture, African style is more now than before."

"It would be great to expose and let everyone know about the culture, the power and the beauty that we have," Beasnael said.

Top Diversified Fashions is located at 238 S. Market St. Inglewood, CA 90301.

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