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Nzinga: Queen of the crop

INSPIRATION: Nzinga Graham-Smith

BEING NAMED after a queen must surely bring its own pressures, but for entrepreneur Nzinga Graham-Smith it’s been the inspiration behind an empowering fashion lifestyle brand she has just created.

The businesswoman from Birmingham is using Nzinga, the legendary queen of Angola, to create her own brand – Queen of the Crop, a shapewear range.

The first thing you notice about Nzinga is indeed her regal bearing – tall and determined – this entrepreneur has done her homework and gone through five years of trial and error to produce the Queen of the Crop’s unique range in its signature look of geometric shapes.

As a young mother of two girls, one five years old and the other nine months, Nzinga is an inspiration for any would-be entrepreneur who wants to create their own business but doesn’t know how to.

She left school and was travelling around the world by the age of 17, later managing to complete a degree course in PR within ten months.

A publicist for eight years before she had her first daughter, Nzinga found motherhood was gradually taking her over and her career took a backseat. In financial hardship and debt, like many new mums she struggled to regain her figure and her confidence.

She started thinking there must be a way to change this situation, so she came up with a plan.
Nzinga, who is of Jamaican descent, said: “I met with different women and realised I wasn’t alone on this hectic journey called life, so the idea of a lifestyle brand was born. I wanted to create something that empowered women to unleash their inner confidence.

“The initial idea was to start with a lingerie collection, but during my research and the focus groups I conducted, I became drawn to shapewear. After two years of extensive research, finding out what women want from shapewear, and what they like and dislike about current products I made the first sketches in my daughter’s drawing book.

“It’s taken more than five years, a lot of hard work, many tears, sleepless nights and the thought of giving up at times to launch Queen of the Crop, but now I’m finally seeing the fruits of my labours.”

COLLECTION: Covet shapewear in nude

She continued: “Coming up with a brand name wasn’t easy. I wanted to represent the values and mission I’m dedicated to – being successful, daring and radiant – all of which the name Queen of the Crop encapsulates.”

The Covet Collection is available in five different styles and four shades of nude brown that have the comfort and feel of a second skin. They include The Clincher (camisole); The Superbody (bodysuit); The Hourglass (slip dress); The Pins (high waist long leg shorts), and The Peach (high-waist knickers). Prices are from £16 upwards.

Nzinga, who has also teamed up with breast cancer awareness charity Coppafeel, added: “The collection ensures women feel instantly slimmer, sexier and confident. The nude brown tones will be a trend to follow as this is a pivotal step in an area often overlooked to reach and include diversity and demand.

“I don’t believe in calling parts of women’s bodies ‘problem areas’ – what these products do is slenderise women’s backs, waists, tummies and thighs in designs that shape and smooth rather than flattening the body.

“What Covet will do is make women feel confident, especially when they have no time on a daily basis and have 21 different things to do. Unstructured cups fit any breast size and silicone at the hem prevents any riding up or down. There are interchangeable straps for versatility, special panelling to lift and round derriere and bust, with comfortable press clips for easy panty closure.”

The Covet range is attracting attention in UK, European and US markets, with celebrity interest growing: TOWIE actress Abigail Clarke and TV personality Farah Sattaur are both fans.

The collection is now available on Queen of the Crop’s Facebook page with 30 per cent off sale price for liking the page, before the website launches at the end of September.

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