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Wisdom from Chid Liberty: A Great Idea is Never Enough

The garment industry. Lots has been said about that industry especially in a third-world country. The industry does not have the best reputation, most people think of sweat shops, violations of human rights, way below

The garment industry. Lots has been said about that industry especially in a third-world country. The industry does not have the best reputation, most people think of sweat shops, violations of human rights, way below minimum wage and the harshest working conditions. Well, Liberia’s own Chid Liberty not only changed that perception but he made a difference doing it. Chid was born in Liberia and has been living in the United States for the majority of his life. In 2008, Chid packed his bags and headed to Liberia for the very first time in over two decades and has not looked back since. He has been recognized for his work by former President Ellen Sirleaf in 2011 along with several other really big awards. To say the least, Chid shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. We like to think that Chid Liberty is a big deal in the garment industry as well as in the entrepreneurial world. We had a chance to catch up with Chid and discuss his motives and his very popular clothing line “Uniform.”

Why the garment industry?
CL: Most immigrants end up working in the garment industry. It is a very powerful industry with a very negative reputation. However, it provides jobs for women and I was totally interested in women’s group’s movements. It also provided jobs for to low literacy population. I was determined to make it an industry that we can be proud of. It was a new alternative.

3 words to describe yourself
Fun. Light- hearted. Indefectible

Ebola. How did it affect your business?
To say the least it wiped us out. We had signed the 2 biggest contracts at the end of 2011. As soon as Liberia declared the state of emergency we had to shut down for 2 weeks losing millions of dollars. Thankfully no one from our company got sick. We knew Ebola was not going to keep us out of the game for too long.

How were you able to bounce back?
Being African resiliency is in our DNA, we had faith and lots of hope. We got up smiling each and every day. We all made the decision to succeed therefore failure was not an option for us. To be honest the women at the shop were my constant motivators. They wanted to go back to work as soon as possible. It was a very stressful experience but we thought of something new was coming. Also when you start serving something greater than you, you can’t stop.

Uniform. What is it?
Uniform is a clothing line. It was launched after the Ebola crisis in 2014. I have always been interested in education. I was talking to one of my workers about the idea. She said it would work because the price of uniforms are expensive and one of the primary reason why kids don’t go to school.

So how were you able to donate uniforms to Liberia?
I am not a huge fan of the “one for one model.” However it seemed to work in this case. It was every time someone purchased a t-shirt we donated uniform to child and in turn it keeps these women employed, it seemed like a win-win situation for everyone involved. Once I knew what Uniform was, others started getting involved lots of big influencers. We raised about $50,000 in 5 hours after launching Uniform.
What is your vision for Uniform in the next couple of years?
We plan on expanding to other nations in Africa. Uniform is a Pan-African brand not just for Liberia. We just plan on getting bigger than the year prior.

If you want to follow Chid and his clothing line, check out KickStarter and other social Medias.

Samandu Tshimanga, who goes by Samy, is a college graduate from Indiana University South Bend with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and a minor in Sociology. She loves the study of people. She is a freelance analyst and talks about politics, human rights and whatever else floats her boat. Her column Young Africans On The Move with Samy showcases exceptional young people making a difference in the community and in their countries back in Africa. Originally from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Samy currently resides in Indianapolis. You can follow her on Twitter: @La_general_ or Facebook: Samy Tshimanga.
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