Brooklyn Fashion Incubator Student at Berkeley College Launches Business; Brings His Passion to the Marketplace as He Approaches Graduation


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Wen Yam Pessinaba has his roots in Africa, but is a budding entrepreneur in America who hopes to revolutionize the garment trade with eco-friendly African-made fabrics. When he enrolled in Berkeley College as a Fashion Merchandising and Management major in 2016 he was able to transfer credits.  He expects to graduate with his Bachelor’s degree in the spring 2018 semester. 

Mr. Pessinaba came to Berkeley College with a passion to find his place as a successful entrepreneur in the business of fashion.  He hit the ground running and during 2017, his perseverance, thirst to succeed, and application of what he had learned in and out of the classroom began to take hold.

Connecting Passion to the Marketplace

In his internship with theBROOKLYNfashionincubator (BFI) at Berkeley College he met Maria Barraza, Director, who fell in love with the unique fabrics he is preparing to import from Africa.  Ms. Barraza introduced Mr. Pessinaba to those in his field who could help his business take off.  As a future BFI participant he was able to showcase his work at the two-day DG fabric expo held in New York City in January, where he received great interest and his first orders.

“There is a void in the market,” explains Ms. Barraza, who has an experienced eye for niches in the world of fashion. “This fabric of AfriKaccentsTM is a great substitute for linen,” she said.  It is hand-made, 100% cotton, uses plant and fruit-based dye so it is eco-friendly, and it empowers the women in Africa who are nourishing their families and their communities through this trade.”

Making the World a Better Place

The idea behind AfriKaccentsTM was born as Mr. Pessinaba thought about how he could raise the image of the entire continent of Africa in the eyes of the world.

“I thought about how to rebrand the continent to show the good side,” said Mr. Pessinaba. “When I was little, growing up in Togo in West Africa, my mom bought and resold textiles.  When I met two ladies at a church fabric festival in New York about a year ago, I told them I may have a business style and plan that could work for them and the fabric they had, which was similar to what I had known growing up.  I thought about it for six months, and when I was ready, discussed the business with Ms. Barraza, who wholeheartedly supported the idea. My connection to the BROOKLYNfashionincubator at Berkeley is helping me grow my business network.”

Photo Caption:  Berkeley College student Wen Yam Pessinaba (left) and Maria Barraza, Director, the BROOKLYNfashionincubator at Berkeley at the DG Expo in New York City in January 2018. Mr. Pessinaba showcased ecofriendly handmade textiles from Africa made of 100% cotton, and is a good substitute for linen, usable for clothing, accessories and furniture coverings. The fabric is made with plant and fruit-based dye, and empowers the women who weave the textiles and their communities.

A leader in providing career-focused education since 1931, Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and enrolls more than 7,100 students – including more than 440 international students – in its Master’s, Bachelor’s, and Associate’s degree and Certificate programs. Students can study in more than 20 career fields. Berkeley College is comprised of the Larry L. Luing School of Business®, the School of Professional Studies, the School of Health Studies and the School of Liberal Arts. The School of Graduate Studies offers an MBA in Management online and in Woodland Park, NJ.


Berkeley College has three New York campuses – Midtown Manhattan, Brooklyn and White Plains. In New Jersey there are five campuses – Dover, Newark, Paramus, Woodbridge and Woodland Park. Berkeley College Online® serves a global population. For five consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has named Berkeley College among the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Programs and among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans. The website address is

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