by Craignertenele Nyirinda
B&R African Styles, the first African retail store in Phoenix sells products that preserve African heritage. The store is in the Phoenix Marketplace and open every day of the week except Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“There are a lot of African stores in Phoenix but a lot of them are food based,” said Irankunda Mireille, a full-time employee at B&R African Styles.
The boutique is a “clothing company that offer African products from a clothing line to Health and Beauty products,” said the stores’ Facebook page. The store which specializes in retail is the first in its community.
B&R African styles sell “African chew sticks, ‘kitenges,’ adult and kids Dashikis, swimsuits, black soap, shea butter, fragrance oils, and incense,” said Mireille. “Kitenges,” are colorful fabrics made by wax prints, that are used frequently in East, west, and Central Africa. The fabric can be used as a sling, to carry a baby on the back of a mother, for decoration, and to make clothes.
Since the spring of 2011, many designers like Gwen Stefani have used, “kitenges,” or African prints in their designs. That is “part of a trend that fashion magazines and blogs tend to refer to as ‘tribal,’’’said Julia Felsenthal in the article, “The Curious History of ‘Tribal’ Prints.”
The store is a family business, that started back in 2015 by Perodin Bideri, and his wife Rebekah Bideri. The owner Perodin Bideri is a refugee from Tanzania who came to America to pursue his passion. “I moved to Phoenix, Arizona at the age of 18,” said Bideri in his Kiva profile. Bideri who earned an Associates in Business and Business Administration, started his career by “selling products door to door in apartments, in streets, in events and fairs,” said Bideri. Bideri’s goal is to provide and promote African culture by supplying quality African prints, and health and beauty products.
To provide quality African products, Bideri partners with small businesses in Africa. “A lot of the products imported are either from Ghana, Burundi, Libya, Tanzania, or Nigeria,” said Mireille. The black soaps, shea butter, dashikis, and the “kitenges” are transported from Africa, “some of the [fragrance] oils we have here, are the main items we get from all over the world,” said Mireille.
Besides providing and promoting African culture, Bideri also has a goal of expanding the business locally, and eventually international. The stores’ website is a way he’s aiming to reach other customers. “Some people who are out of state, who are not able to get the clothes can order them on the website,” said Mireille.
Because the business is still small, Bideri has many roles to fulfill. The three employees, he currently has, lessen his workload. Two of the three employees work part time and are full time students. When they can’t make it to work, due to an emergency, Bideri works their shift. Mireille said he is a flexible boss who is understanding and doesn’t pressure employees to work beyond their capabilities.