Silk. Sequins. Satin.
If it’s a type of fabric, bet Victoria Kageni-Woodard has it.
The York County-based freelance fashion designer has loads of colorful patterned textiles she uses to create the clothes of her wildest dreams.
Kageni-Woodard, born in Kenya, has always felt a passion for sewing and design. With the encouragement of her parents, Kageni-Woodard moved to the United States in 1991 and honed her skills at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
“It’s just fascinating to see that my life has continued to be this creative thing that’s constantly evolving,” Kageni-Woodard said.
In 2016, Gusa By Victoria was founded. Now Kageni-Woodard works with clients across the country to create bespoke shirts, dresses and wedding dresses.
Additionally, she has pre-made pieces available to purchase from her collection online at victoriakageni.com.
Although it heavily depends on what she’s currently working on, Kageni-Woodard said she can finish an item of clothing like a shirt in just a few hours. A wedding dress, on the other hand, can take several months.
Her muses and inspiration are primarily the women who live in her community, especially women in the workforce.
“Now that I call York home, that’s where I find inspiration among the people I live with,” Kageni-Woodard said.
Her influence goes beyond fashion — and she wants everyone to know that her story and talents don’t stop at the sewing machine.
Kageni-Woodard organized two Gusa culinary excursions to Central Market York, during which she had the opportunity to cook traditional Kenyan dishes for the community.
The Gusa World Music Festival, meanwhile, has been bringing the community together through a variety of instruments and songs for four years now.
“I always seem to want to surround myself with good things and creativity has gotten me this far,” Kageni-Woodard said.
That sentiment couldn’t be truer for Kageni-Woodard – in the form of a new idea that blossomed in his most recent project.
A subscription box, called the “story box”, will focus on female empowerment by introducing customers to various influential women from different parts of the world.
The box will contain a set of five garments meant to be worn throughout the workweek – made from African print embellishments that help illustrate the story of a specific community leader.
The box will also contain documentation and educational tools, as well as jewelry to match each item of clothing.
“This subscription box is meant to inspire and encourage women to celebrate our differences, no matter where in the world they come from,” Kageni-Woodard said. “Always ideas, ideas and more ideas.”
Editor’s note: York Against The Grain is a monthly series from The York Dispatch. Our goal is to highlight the county’s unique small business owners who deserve some recognition for the work they do. Would you like to nominate a company? Contact Tina Locurto at tlo[email protected] or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.