A new boutique and gallery featuring prints and fashion with African roots will open on downtown St. Petersburg’s Beach Drive next month.
EnnYe is a fashion boutique that focuses on African prints and contemporary designs, said owner Matipa Mutsemi. The shop already had a soft opening but will have a grand opening on Aug. 4.
The store at 300 Beach Drive NE has three main components: the primary being fashion, then home decor and sculptures from Zimbabwe artisans.
“The African prints that I pick are very artsy contemporary. Some prints are sacred or designated for certain things. … Some prints represent funerals of officials and community leaders, then I don’t touch that,” said Mutsemi.
The 41-year-old fashion designer was born in Zimbabwe. She moved to the U.S. to study law in Miami before moving to Washington, D.C. In 2020, before the pandemic, she moved to St. Petersburg and wanted to set up a boutique with her sister Mercy Nyamangwanda.
“Every time I would visit (Zimbabwe), I would buy fabric and try to make pieces that suit our lifestyles. Like for me, it was going to work. If I wore an African print dress and still put on my jacket to show up to court, that was something that I wanted to do,” Mutsemi said.
At EnnYe, which is named after the owners’ mother, leftover print patterns are repurposed for home decor items, such as throw pillow covers, blankets, wall art and benches.
“If people weren’t responding too much to the print as a dress or something then I would start to make other things with it because I don’t like to waste,” Mutsemi said.
Inside the store, Mutsemi said she wanted to pay tribute to her culture of the Shona people and their famous stone art. EnnYe has a stone sculpture gallery featuring works that can be up to 36 inches tall by Zimbabwean artisans.
Follow trends affecting the local economy
Subscribe to our free Business by the Bay newsletter
We’ll break down the latest business and consumer news and insights you need to know every Wednesday.
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.
Explore all your options
The gallery also has art featuring popular African animals, such as the lion, giraffe, rhino, elephant and African buffalo. Mutsemi said there’s an emphasis on the lions in her shop because that is her family’s totem animal.
“The shop is very vibrant and colorful,” Mutsemi said. “I just basically want people to walk in and you feel like you don’t have to buy anything but feel like you’ve learned something about someplace that you might not have known about.”