My new brand: Tilly & Tojo – Happy clothes with an African vibe for kids

Family of 5 sitting on floor. Children wearing African inspired kids clothes

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I love ‘making’ things (or check out some of my DIY tutorials on my blog here) and I have hinted a few times about my latest project: Tilly & Tojo – Happy clothes with an African vibe for kids 1 – 6 years. I am so excited to say that we are finally live!! Eeeek!

How our kids see themselves matters

Children wearing African inspired clothing reading a book with their mu

I am not of African descent but the three little people (and one really big one) I love the most are: my lovely children Victoria, Maximilian, Frederick and my husband Folarin who is originally from Nigeria.

It was always important to me that my kids, whilst growing up in Europe, would still be able to celebrate their African heritage. During my numerous visits to family in Nigeria (with and without my husband) I was touched by the use of patterns to communicate familial connections and to show a visible sign of support in times of both celebration and loss. When my daughter was born, I started looking into clothes that would celebrate African culture and connect her to her wider family.

I discovered that most pieces are made from typical Ankara fabrics. These fabrics are beautiful, vibrant and colourful but they’re often quite stiff because of the wax printing process with no stretch to them. I found that there was a gap in the market for African inspired kids clothes made from soft, stretchy cotton fabrics in styles that were fun and comfortable to wear for kids and didn’t look out of place when worn in Europe. It inspired me to find ways of producing a small range primarily for my own children and wider family.

How it all started

So I began making my own pieces: little dresses, bloomers, tops and accessories: combining soft cotton materials with Ankara fabrics that family would bring back from Nigeria.

One Sunday afternoon my husband, daughter and I went to the home of two of my husband’s oldest and dearest friends (James and Danielle) for lunch. I told them about my idea of African- inspired kids clothes. James (a brand strategy and design expert) was really interested in my story and was impressed that I’d started “making something” because, as he put it, “everyone has ideas but few actually do anything about them”.

At that time, I was back at work full-time, so my little project was temporarily put on hold. James encouraged me to pick things up again as he could see that I clearly believed in the idea. However, with everything I had to juggle I didn’t think I couldn’t get things off the ground on my own. So I asked James if he wanted to partner with me.

A few days later, James rang to say he really liked the idea and was excited to join forces. That’s when our journey to create ‘Tilly & Tojo – Happy clothes with an African vibe for kids’ started.

And after a lot of hard work, trial and error, here we are! We made my dream a reality and created a small collection of dresses and unisex t-shirts, sweatshirts and joggers in our own African inspired print that we hope you’ll love as much as we do!

Reimagining traditional African prints for kids

When we set out to design our first collection we knew immediately that we wanted to create our  very own pattern: putting a fun, child-friendly twist on a typical African Ankara style. The popular African ‘Nsubra’ (water well)  print, which comes in many different vibrant colour ways, was the inspiration for our lion print.

The patterns on Ankara prints are typically quite big making it difficult to appreciate the overall pattern on a smaller garment. For this reason we scaled down the size of the circles to replicate the same feel in a smaller piece of clothing. And as with the originals our collection of prints features vibrant colours and is designed to be worn by both boys and girls alike!

But at the contrary to typical African Ankara wax print fabric our garments are made of 100% super soft and stretchy cotton to give kids maximum comfort when playing and jumping around.

Diversity is strength

In our modern world there is a lot of pressure to conform. At Tilly & Tojo we believe that diversity is strength. With our collection we want to encourage children to be themselves and celebrate everyone’s uniqueness. Our fun, vibrant clothes help kids to feel confident and unleash their full potential.

Boy and girl lying on floor wearing African inspired kids clothes by Tilly & Tojo - Happy clothes with an African vibe for kids

Give us a roar!

And now that we’ve finally launched, another big piece of work starts:

Getting the word out about Tilly & Tojo!

It would mean the absolute world to me if you could help with that  (only if you like what we’re doing of course!), e.g. by giving us a follow on Instagram, liking our posts, telling your friends about us or buying from our small business and if you’re feeling super generous, leaving us a review on our website.


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