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Two Of A Kind

“Love seeing African ladies killing it in the world of entrepreneurship! Can’t wait to see more from you.” “I can’t even begin to say how inspired I am by you two! Your dedication and hardwork as black women is magical.” “You two are amazing, post more and be seen! Everyone needs to see this level [...]
Jeni Ruisch



“Love seeing African ladies killing it in the world of entrepreneurship! Can’t wait to see more from you.”

“I can’t even begin to say how inspired I am by you two! Your dedication and hardwork as black women is magical.”

“You two are amazing, post more and be seen! Everyone needs to see this level of style, sophistication, and elegance!”

“You guys are really showing the world that women can climb the ranks of success too. Keep up the good work!”

These are some of the hundreds of comments that flood the Yusuf’s Instagram page daily. Many of them are from young girls who have become inspired by Nasteha and Nuni Yusuf’s hard work and dedication to their love of fashion. With nearly 30,000 followers on their instagram page alone, the Yusuf’s lifestyle and love for fashion is making an impact not only on the fashion scene of the capital city, but on their followers worldwide.

Through Columbus-based eyes, we can recognize enough familiar scenes in their daily posts to know that they’re locals. But with the way they’ve converted their Instagram presence into a sophisticated globally-conscious fashion and lifestyle brand, it’d be hard to tell that their address isn’t outside the 614.

And technically, born in Somalia and raised in and Canada, their passports have been stamped more than a few times.

Not twins, but certainly a package deal, the sisters answer questions frequently in a collective “we.” The two youngest of eight children now have created a multi-tiered presence in the style and beauty arena, sharing their own collections of jewelry (modeled after their mother, who was a gold dealer), as well as their travels, trend suggestions, and adventures via fun, fast-paced YouTube videos that go beyond just the standard brand-by-numbers fare you see in the modern blogosphere.

They style. They model. They shop. They sell.

But they haven’t always led a charmed existence. The Yusuf family escaped Somalia during the civil war when the sisters were four and seven. Their father, in danger because of his position in the government, fled alone to Canada, thinking the conflict would blow over and he could soon return to his family. But as war broke out, the remaining family members fled to a refugee camp in Kenya, where they stayed for two years. Their father was finally able
to bring them to Toronto, where the family was reunited.

“To say we feel grateful is an under-statement. We went through a lot during our escape and we’re just happy to be alive to talk about it.”

They settled in Columbus, where their husbands are from, and are taking the city by colorful storm. Their fashion and lifestyle blog developed as a way to chronicle their creativity and growth as women while sharing their global perspective on personal style, beauty and travels. YCollections is an ecommerce site that offers everyday jewelry for the bold woman. Their vivid fashion choices resound with people of all ages and from all backgrounds. They see fashion as a means of self-expression, with Nasteha describing her style as “bold, edgy, and borderline boyish.” Nuni says hers is “fun, feminine, and classic.” They speak to a large audience and range of fashionistas betwixt the two.

With all their world traveling, the two have opened their hearts to the heart of it all.

“Out of every other city we’ve visited and lived in the past, Columbus not only provides the best cost of living but it also has the most opportunities. We feel like since this city is growing, we have the potential to grow personally as well as professionally.”

And grow, they do. The Yusuf’s brand continues to spread out across social media, their online store continues to grow, and now with their brick-and-mortar location on the south side, they are making their talents available as content producers and consultants for other
local businesses.

Through the turmoil they have withstood in their lives, the Yusuf sisters have harnessed their momentum, and together, built a brand that seems poised to become an empire. Never fearing evolution, the sisters look forward to a future bright as the patterns they wear.

“The biggest thing is change. We love that fashion changes from season to season. We love that with each era comes a new look. We always saw this as a new opportunity to reinvent yourself. Change is good. Especially when it comes to fashion.”

Fashion Secrets


A good tailor can do wonders for you.


Don’t be restricted to buying a specific size. You can make any size work for you with a little bit of imagination.

Bolder is Better


Developing your own style. It’s great to draw inspiration from others. But it’s super important to make it your own by focusing on elements like what works for your body type.


The easiest way to implement a little bit of boldness is to mix prints and patterns. We find that by doing this you instantly exude confidence and stand out at all times.

Fashion Icons


I appreciate timeless and classic pieces. I like to collect pieces that I can picture myself wearing at any age. When I am 90 years old, I want to look back at my style evolution, and I want to still be excited about the outfits from my past. I admire Coco Chanel because her style is truly timeless. Her clothes are still modern today.


I don’t really have a fashion icon but I do have a type of woman I aspire to be. It’s usually an older woman. A confident, colorful woman such as Iris Apfel, Daphne Selfe, and Giovanna Battaglia.

Life Motto


“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” -Maya Angelou


“I can, and I will.”

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Columbus native to appear on premiere of ‘Making the Cut’




Series debuts tonight, March 27 on Amazon Prime

Kent State School of Fashion alumni, Joshua Hupper and Will Riddle, will both be featured contestants on the new series hosted and produced by fashion gurus, Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn. Hupper, a 2004 alumnus, and Riddle, a 2013 alumnus, both majored in fashion design and have had significant roles in the industry since graduating. They were two of just 12 contestants from all over the globe to be featured on the 10-episode series.

Since graduating in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree, Hupper resides in Shanghai, China, where he founded the brand BABYGHOST, a successful e-commerce fashion brand based in China. His designs have been featured in Vogue and on runways around the world. His line features youthful, feminine ready-to-wear fashions for the “mischievous girl.” Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Hupper’s talents were shaped by his artistic upbringing and his past experiences in internships with Diane Von Furstenburg and Thakoon.

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Clothing and Community: Black Fashion Expo




Expect nothing but instead appreciate everything.

The statement is a mantra that Black Fashion Expo founder Bobby Couch lives by, describing the event for designers of color to set up shop and showcase their products on a grand scale. While he juggles multiple hats as a creative director at Art of Republic and as an assistant with traveling dinner party, The High End Affair, his intention with creative umbrella Fashion is Columbus and brainchild Black Fashion Expo was to be inclusive and celebrate fashion brands that deserve a larger following. After the inaugural BFE in February, Couch hosted the expo’s ‘Intent’ theme in October at Gravity, as a marketplace featuring panel discussions and live attractions and demonstrations that showcased fashion that goes beyond the runway.

“When you’re curating an experience that’s new, there’s a level of anticipation, but people know that every component of what’s happening will likely be unexpected,” Couch said. “It’s important to conform that Black fashion is also Columbus fashion. Until we can say it’s time to celebrate the success of Black artists with an inclusive and diverse audience, it’s important to continue celebrating one another to drive their goals and business.”

An avid Beyoncé fan, Couch has taken cues from the singer to drive his own business, noting Beyoncé publicized her decision to leave a Reebok board meeting after there were no people of color present. The singer ventured into a joint athleisure partnership with Adidas instead, and Bobby supports her decision, noting that Black voices on design teams are the first step into the process of inclusion.

“Some of the larger luxury brands definitely started the shift from the Gucci blackface sweaters to blackness and wokeness being a trend. Sometimes it just takes conversations like those to ruffle the feathers of the white supremacy and implement change, even if just temporary,” he said. “During these times of gentrification and the restoration of urban areas, [Black Fashion Expo] wants to ensure there are safe spaces curated specifically for those coming from inner city schools to create their own footprint.”

In agreement with Couch’s sentiments is founder of clothing line Ohio Girls Do It Better and BFE contributor, Chanel Jack. “There are major dangers of Black designers leading majority white teams because it keeps the cycle going and lessens our opportunities as a culture,” she said. “When a Black designer does have the power to change the narrative, it is important to bring other Black creatives to the top with them.”

While Columbus fashion is still on an incline—the city is also a leading hub for fashion with LBrands, CCAD, and Fashion Week Columbus—Couch is forward-thinking with offering services to further benefit the city. With a full team of curators behind Black Fashion Expo, Couch credits Art of Republic, StarstrukT Apparel, Cloud City 614 and more for fulfilling his vision of propelling local Black fashion to greater heights. He also wants the favor to be returned to other brands, as StarstrukT Apparel is a hub for listening parties and shopping alike, and Sole Classics continually hosts a seasonal Streetwear Flea event. “It costs nothing to repost your friend who’s an entrepreneur, [their] business or pop-up flyers on social media; that’s a great start,” Couch said.

There are still gripes with apects of Columbus fashion, as noted by hosts of BFE segment “Thread Talk”, Genevieve Effa and Xiao Mei. “I’ve noticed there are so many more designers and brands that aren’t getting attention. The fashion scene can be improved best if more of those with a fashion platform in the city collaborate more often,” Effa said. “Whether that’s creating an event where designers or brands can apply to be a part of it, or just throwing a mixer for designers and fashion brands to network, the best way to really show why Columbus is ranked third in the fashion industry would be through collaborating.”

“Those in the fashion industry are standing their ground more than ever. From their morals to their values and principles, many Blacks are comprehending the importance of unity within the Black culture and Black fashion industry,” Mei adds. “Columbus offers diverse people of different backgrounds, but lacks flavor in apparel. It is a comfortable city and not many are willing to step beyond their comfort zones—even in their clothing.”

In the process of opening his first storefront in next year with an artistic coworking space, Couch envisions that fashion in 2020 will be a transition into theory, uniform and minimalistic silhouettes being intertwined with substantial fabrics. “Eco-friendly and more vegan leathers will be used in the projects I’m endorsing [as well as] the freedom of the late 90’s when it comes to styling and editorial execution,” he said. “Less is so much more.”

Couch plans to resume Black Fashion Expo next February, and much like his idol, Beyoncé, 2020 will be the year to officially get Columbus fashion in formation.

Donations and request for sponsorship information can be found online at Follow on Instagram at @blackfashionexpo.

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Local designer offers shopping tips for fashionista on your list

Regina Fox



Ever since she was a little girl, Joan Madison has had an affinity for fashion. From making custom-fitting Barbie doll outfits when she was in elementary school, to developing her natural talent at the acclaimed Fashion Institute of Technology, to landing designer positions at The Limited and Express, to eventually opening her own bridal boutique in Reynoldsburg, Madison has amassed over 20 years experience in the fashion industry. Madison shared some of her insights with (614) to help those holiday shoppers looking to cross gifts for the fashionista in their life off their list.

(614): If you're having trouble identifying your friend's unique style or items that would fit into that style, what are some staple pieces that everyone can love and use?

JM: Some staple pieces that everyone loves and uses are items that match the season! I love to accessorize! If it is fall [or] winter, I love to go for soft cashmere scarves, gloves or even winter sunglasses—they make the perfect accent as a thoughtful gift or for a stylish friend, and you can never go wrong with items that make you warmer in the cooler months. If it is spring [or] summer, I love to match accessories that add a touch of color or metallic to anyone’s wardrobe. Items like handheld purses, fanciful flats and color-pop earrings are always my go to faves for everyone, no matter the taste.

(614): For those working on a tight budget, what pieces make the best gifts?

JM: I like that even on a budget, these gift ideas work! What I like most about these staple pieces are that these items come in a variety of colors and prices. I like that I can buy all of my favorites, no matter the budget!

(614): For bigger ticket items—let's say a handbag or coat, for example—how can the average shopper distinguish a quality item from one that is simply overpriced?

JM: As a couturier, I find it necessary to first examine the stitching on any garment. Make sure it’s lined, and that all plaids, stripes, or patterns match. Most people think it is about the textiles, but what sets a unique piece apart is the time and expertise it takes to engineer and craft a high quality garment, to really pour into the work, while also embodying the design and detail. Good quality is also evident in the fit of the garment, the hanger loops, and the overall hanger appeal. Often, overpriced items skip these components and this part of the process.

(614): What are some of your favorite shops and boutiques around Central Ohio that offer thoughtful, accessible fashion?

JM: One of my favorite boutiques around Central Ohio that offers thoughtful and accessible fashion is Minka’s Furs in the Shops at Worthington Place, and I also love to draw inspiration and support many of our local festival artisans. And we also offer holiday party dresses and evening gowns here at Joan’s Bridal Couture.

(614): What are some of your favorite trends you've seen this winter season?

JM: There are several trends I like this winter season, including anything in sequin with bling. Metallic is also still popular, [as is] wearing shades of green and earthier tones with a pop of color. For extra warmth, try layering your sweaters, dusters, and shawls. Additionally, anything with fur, and the reemergence of leopard prints [are current trends].

(614): What are some "fast fashion" items common during the winter that shoppers should avoid and why?

JM: Remember "fast fashion" doesn’t last—we are in an area where you want to wear that cute sport coat year-round, and have it for next season as well. Fast fashion is based off of trends as feelers, and I like a more traditional approach. Some "fast fashion" items to avoid this winter would be garments made in cheap polyester knit fabric, like scarves, crewnecks, and leggings. After being worn once, the garment starts to pill. The quality will be evident in the weight of the knit. Alternatively, go with a natural fiber like wool, which is a bit pricier but will last longer.

This conversation has been lightly edited. Visit Joan’s Bridal Couture at 7382 E Main St., Reynoldsburg or online at

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