Niematulai Longstratt, known as Niema to her friends and family, was born and raised in Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa. Now a Bossier City resident, Niema is the proud owner of RNL Authentics “where food and fashion meet.” She has loved fashion since she was a little girl and recalls dressing herself and her older sister throughout primary (middle) school. Instead of buying lunch at school, she would use her lunch money to buy supplies to make new garments and food to create new recipes with. She never went to school for fashion — she is completely self-taught.

“My beautiful mother was a fashionista. Before losing her, I remember telling her that I wanted to extend happiness to the beautiful people of the world through fashion and food. And that’s just what I’m doing.”

Love and her late mother are inspirations to Niema’s work. She creates all sorts of pieces from dresses to men’s suits, and loves to try her hand at making everything she sees, even jewelry and accessories.

“It starts at the market when I’m shopping for fabric,” said Niema. “When I spot a pattern I love, I always know exactly what I’m going to make with it.”

She enjoys looking at work from all designers, as there are so many she loves. LaTasha Henderson is a local designer that Niema admires. “Tasha puts so much love in her work. I can’t help but appreciate that.”

Niema has a strong love for cooking authentic food and she also enjoys relaxing with a nice glass of wine and a cigar in her free time. Her friends and family would describe her as a people person, very sociable, professional and confident. Her life motto is “Always be yourself.”

Niema says that she is thankful for her husband, Rodney, who is retired from the U.S. Navy. He brought her here to Louisiana and she has fallen in love with the area. She loves the culture, richness and hospitality of the state.

“I want to keep a connection between Louisiana and my home country through my art. Both areas are very important to me.”

Find Niema’s gorgeous designs on Facebook and Instagram @rnl.authentics. She is currently working on her website.