Most women can agree: there is no better, more empowering feeling than lingerie that you just love. Something about secretly walking around in undergarments that make you feel sexy and nobody knowing is so empowering. Lingerie is a way of self-love for a lot of women, buying things that make us feel so good in our own skin with little coverage. However, lingerie is something reserved for developed and commercialized countries. Women in areas with less resources don’t get to experience that empowerment that one sexy bra can give. Twenty-year-old Duquesne student Adele-Francine Bodog is aiming to change that with her company, From Cameroun With Love.
According to Bodog, FCWL is a Camerounian inspired lingerie and loungewear line that not only empowers women through sexy styles but also empowers a new generation of youth in the country of Cameroun. “Looking to bridge a gap between two completely different societies, I have decided to create a brand which will help build a new Cameroun with a percentage of yearly earning going towards infrastructural, medical and educational need in Cameroun,” Bodog explains her mission. She notes the important of building up societies and bettering and educating ourselves at the same time is crucial in bringing the world together, but the typical process of charitable donations or raising money by selling shirts or bracelets just isn’t the best way anymore. “Nothing about generic crew neck t-shirts and flimsy plastic wristband are memorable, fun, or even sexy. Most people want to learn about new cultures and most people intrinsically want to help others, but who says giving back can’t be sexy?”
The idea for a lingerie line sprouted in a high school math class where Bodog’s class was given a project to create a hypothetical business. Choosing a lingerie boutique originally named Undergarments by Adele, she recalls how her class thought the topic of lingerie was weird or made them uncomfortable. But it was her passion and fascination for it, as well as the duty she felt to uplift women (literally!), that guided her down that path. “At that time, I didn’t have the idea to incorporate African prints into lingerie, but I fell in love with the idea of owning a business that helped promote self-love,” she says. Having drawn sketches for a long time, she only seriously started designing a couple of years ago.
The desire to help support Cameroun actually stems from her family’s heritage, though. Her father was born in a small village in Cameroun called Dingombi. Bodog remembers her father’s obsession with his home and his constant wanting to pass his love for it on to his children. For Adele, however, it just didn’t click. “As a child, I thought Camerounian culture was backwards and I could not relate to his experiences in any way,” she explains. Bodog lost her father to cancer in April of last year, and it was after his passing, she knew that despite her father’s high speaking of Cameroun, it was their lack of resources that was the root of his disease. She says:
his devotion to bettering circumstances in Cameroun was unwavering.
“He had every reason to blame his culture, yet he never turned his back on Cameroun. He had even returned for a final visit towards the end of his life. After the death of my father, I wanted to find a way to give back to the culture that helped build him into being the man I loved. I’ve always had a passion for lingerie and I love the way something as simple as a bra could make me feel beautiful and empowered, and I wanted to bring that feeling to other women. I felt like I needed to be passionate about whom I’d be serving and how I’d be serving them.”
This season, FCWL sought to the earth for inspiration. “From the dirt beneath our feet to the grass-covered hills, the earth’s essentials in Cameroun are the focal points of our launch,” Adele describes. The fall/winter launch date is set for middle of October and can be followed along through the website fcwl.shop and Instagram @fcwl.shop. Pieces are sold online and at special events, but as a full time student, Bodog relies heavily on social media and website traffic.
The age-old problems of being a full-time college student have been extra difficult for Bodog as a business owner. Money is always a struggle, and she admits that sometimes she really wishes she had an assistant that could read her mind. However, fighting the good fight itself is one she frequently wishes she had taken on. “I sometimes wish I’d never started the business because knowing my personality, I know I have to follow through, and it gets so hard to [do that]. I am passionate and exhausted but still humbled by the process. It’s sometimes hard to keep going at the same energy level every day, but I’m learning about myself, my strengths, and how my mind works, which I’m grateful for.”
Her work ethic and determination paired with a strong heart of gold make Bodog a very admirable student and businesswoman. It is inspiring and empowering alone to watch her do her thing, and we look forward to seeing all that she will bring to the table with this launch and thereafter!