What started out as unisex logo t-shirts evolved into a clothing line for both men and women.
Fashion brand Gapelii was started by Toja Hodge of Hobbs and Andrew Akufo, who is formerly from Hobbs and now lives in California. The brand has seen growth in sales and demand during the pandemic.
“We saw a lot of growth when it all happened with the murder of George Floyd,” Akufo said. “And a lot of people really wanted to start supporting black-owned businesses, and ours was. I mean, it’s the only luxury fashion brand in New Mexico that’s owned by black people, and even my area in California, (it’s) pretty much the same. So you know, we tried to get our stuff out there and then reach out and see a lot of people from all over the country, to be honest with you, really come to our site, and we saw the traffic increase. And then we started to see more sales. And it was amazing.
Gapelii has partnered with enabling organizations such as the New York-based Black Fashion World Foundation. Akufo connected with Foundation Founder Carla Nelson and is now part of a group that meets online to support young black entrepreneurs in the fashion world. Gapelii’s inventory has grown in anticipation of the winter season. Its winter collection includes solid color hoodies and zip sweatshirts. There are also plans for tie-dye hoodies. The brand’s face masks were one of the top sellers during the pandemic and are available in a range of colors. Also popular are the knitted big hats that are part of the winter collection.
“We also have pigment-dyed sweatshirts, so a little offbeat, but it’s something that’s caught a lot of people’s attention, and we’ve seen a lot of traffic on our site looking for this product,” as well as our long sleeve shirts, ”Akufo said. “We are therefore happy to develop in this area.”
A collection for women has been added to the Gapelii brand.
“We have added products like our wide neck sweatshirt for women, so it has a wider neck than the regular sweatshirt, although it is generally unisex, but this one is specifically for women”, did he declare. “It contains a pink printed logo, which was very attractive and eye-catching. And, you know, we saw sales coming from that specific product as soon as we launched it. And we currently have it in two different colors. We have it in both black and navy blue. “
A “flowy, boxy” tank top is another novelty and is available in several different colors. It is slightly shorter than the previously released unisex tank top.
“So when the weather warms up in the spring and moves into the summer, it’s something that we expect to be a hot seller,” Akufo said. “We’ve also added deep V-neck shirts. … Previously we only had classic T-shirts, which were also unisex in a limited amount of colors. But we’ve really expanded our color selection for our customers. So they can get it in just about any color, available on our site. “
Customers can also contact the brand via email and social media if they want a specific color and don’t see it on the site. The brand will soon expand its selection of colors.
Gapelii plans to add shorts to her brand when the weather warms up. It will be trendy sweatshirt style shorts. Other current looks include a womens jumpsuit that will include a top and bottom. There was also talk of adding women’s shoes, boots and heels as well as summer dresses and long skirts. A line of accessories is also being planned. Items include watches, handbags, sunglasses, colognes and perfumes.
The brand continues to aim high and one day hopes to offer costumes.
“For me, once we started offering wetsuits, we hit a peak,” Akufo said. “And you know, I’ll be extremely happy with that. So these are all goals we are definitely working towards. … The more we continue to grow and our customer base continues to expand, the more our product selection will also expand. But you know, we’re always open to different suggestions. There may be different things that we haven’t thought of that people know and would like to see on our site. And we are definitely open to it. We encourage people to email, they can also contact us through our social media channels. We are an open door.
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