GVSU alumna hosts fashion show in Grand Rapids Downtown Market

Alyssa VanderWeg

On Friday, July 28, Rhoda Klomega’s fashion business, Delasie, hosted a fashion show in the Grand Rapids Downtown Market.

Klomega is an alumna of Grand Valley State University who began her own international fashion company. Her company specializes in creating unique pieces tailor-made for each individual customer using patterns and fabric inspired by her home country of Ghana. The fashion line displayed in the show involves a fabric with a ring-like pattern, which evokes the Ghanaian concept of Nasubra, or “the ripple effect.”

Janelle Hill, the community engagement specialist at Arbor Circle, expanded the concept to the meaning of the show.

“‘Nasubra’: It’s the word for a pebble dropping in the water and making a ripple,” Hill said. “Rhoda’s show is about applying the ripple effect to helping others. When you touch a life, it has a ripple effect. The client’s improved health creates health for the community when they pass it on.”

Arbor Circle is a company that deals with counseling and family development involving mental health, and it serves more than 2,000 people in the Grand Rapids community. One of the people helped was Klomega, whom Hill described as “an immigrant that found value in art therapy … (who) could relate to other immigrants and refugees helped by Arbor Circle.”

It was this connection that led Klomega to donate part of the proceeds of the fashion show to Arbor Circle.

“I want to give back (to Arbor Circle) and to the community and raise awareness for the importance of mental health,” she said. “I built Delasie on my depression, and I want to help others feel good about themselves.”

She described her company as “(her) way of serving others.” 

“It means so much to me to see a client trying on my clothes and feeling more beautiful than they have in a long time,” Klomega said. “It’s my why, my joy, what I work hard for.”

Hill was excited about the venue for the show, which she described as “a building that isn’t used much, but should provide a beautiful view.” She added that she thought the models promoted body positivity and that she loved the idea of “beautiful pieces with a story behind them.”

Another sponsor of the show was Shannon Cohen, founder and leader of Shannon Cohen Inc., who played a part in mentoring Klomega in developing Delasie.

Cohen described her organization as “a service using consulting, leadership and wellness.” She met Klomega at Student Development Day at GVSU and spoke to her about her idea for Delasie, which she said was “just a dream in her heart.” She praised Klomega for her ability to “build her dream from nothing to something.”

“I know she (Klomega) is established and has a strong following, so I expect the event to be successful,” Cohen said. “I’m impressed by her use of the show to address important issues like body image, racism and mental health. I think her clothes and her choice of models, old and young and of all shapes and sizes, will present a powerful image.”