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Karmen Geï Lingerie

My favorite of the past few weeks, from the name to the product itself, everything has enchanted me!

Do you know the film Karmen Guei by Joseph Guai Ramaka? Personally, I loved this movie! and the character of Karmen won me over just as much as most of you who have watched this classic!

For those who do not know this film, it is available on Youtube (The link here).

So when I saw the lingerie pieces from the Karmen Geï brand, the name couldn't have come at a better time!

Here is the new Senegalese lingerie brand Karmen Geï, which was born recently and is available exclusively at dakar. (Their Instagram profile here)

Who is behind the brand?

Oumou Cissokho, 28, is a digital project manager in Paris where she has been living for a few years now. In terms of studies, she did a literary baccalaureate at the Marists, two years of preparatory literary classes at Valenciennes, then a business school in Paris with a specialization in Management of Information Systems.

"I lived in the US from ages 12 to 16. And every first Sunday of the month my mom, my sister and I would go shopping for underwear at Victoria’s Secret. That was my mother’s way of spending quality time with her daughters"

« Once we moved back to Senegal that mother and daughter activity was no longer an option my underwear and bras were send to me from the US so I was always intrigued by the fact that they were no such offer.

That realization hit me again when I got married last December in Dakar, and once I went back to Paris, with the COVID situation I had plenty of time to myself and on an impulse I decided to launch my own lingerie brand. I worked non-stop for 3 weeks, I found the products, the distributor (SassyChic Boutique Dakar), and I work on the marketing elements (Logo, packaging, visual identity) and I launched a pilot on mid-august. »


As for the name « Karmen GEÏ » it partly comes from the movie by Joseph Gaï Ramaka. I was blown away by the character of Karmen, by her unapologetic sensuality and feminity. She was the opposite of what society depicted as the “Respectable Senegalese woman” and yet something in her attitude made it that you couldn’t your eyes off her, you couldn’t help but stare. For all those reasons I thought it would be the perfect name for a Senegalese lingerie and also a way to pay tribute to a cult movie that was so ahead of its time.

Creating a new brand from 0: the main issues

« It can be challenging to balance work, entrepreneurship and social life, specially during times when my full time job is more demanding. But no pain no gain so...

The main challenge I have encountered - which I still encounter elsewhere - would be discovering and trying to tame a new market. I have no idea what the demand is like, I have everything to learn and I hope that in a year or so I will be able

to master that demand, understand the market and be able to build a solid customer base and fully satisfy them.

The second challenge is directly linked to the product. My first aim was to launch a brand that was 100% made in Senegal but I was not able to find people with the required know-how in lingerie and that could manufacture fine lingerie at a price that would be acceptable for a start-up. I had no choice but to find a producer abroad and it is twice harder to handle business when your partners are a world away. In less that one month in, I had to send back merchandise twice already because the quality was unacceptable. It’s an endless battle.

The third challenge is that I made the choice to not use models which adds a diffuculty to the visual promotion of the pieces. I made that choice for 2 reasons :

- Out of respect for Senegalese culture and the modesty and privacy it comes with

- Because I wanted to make sure every woman could picture themselves in the lingerie without having to worry about not looking like the “cover girl”.

Inspirations and collaborations

Today the Karmen Geï brand is in exclusive collaboration with SassyChic Boutique, which takes care of the management of distribution stocks.

«They were kind enough to give me a chance and accept to have my brand in their store even though I was new to the market.»

"My inspirations are of course Victoria's Secret and Etam Lingerie. I want to give lingerie its glory days in Dakar, and offer pieces that are glamorous, classy, sexy without ever being tacky or vulgar."

What's next for the brand?

« In the medium term, I would like to improve the packaging, Have a better understanding of the market and start diversifying the offer, and find new distributors on West Africa and create more partnerships. And in the long term I would like to have my own lingerie store in Dakar and offer online shopping.

My goal is really to make lingerie accessible to all senegalese and african woman (Through pricing and also sizing). What I want is to help more people understand that lingerie is a female accessory , just like make up.

It does not always have to be associated with something taboo or dirty or something that is exclusive to married women.

"I truly think that lingerie is not just a seduction tool, it's also a feel good tool. It helps women gain confidence by being aware of their body and learning to love it."

Once you learn to constantly take care of yourself through little private pleasure like a massage, cute underwear, and other none ostentatious things, it's no longer a matter of seducing or validation, its becomes a matter of daily acceptance and self-love that make us even more desirable.

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