Theuda Nmosa Tusajiwe, a seamstress in Birmingham, Alabama, always had a unique style that seemed to turn heads whenever she went out with friends. Decades later, she turned her love of fashion into reality by launching her business in Woodlawn called Nmosa Designs and Fabrics.

“I started sewing when I was 16. Which I love with every fiber of my being; I love sewing more than anything,” Tusajiwe said in an interview with “Everytime we walked into the club, people just waited to see what we had on. It was so exciting. That’s when I started sewing. I fell in love with it out of a need because I could never, ever find anything for me in the stores that was long enough or stylish enough.”


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Tusajiwe grew up in Sipsey, a small town in Walker County, Alabama. She recalled the community having fewer fashion stores, prompting her and a friend to create their own stylish threads.

“Fashion, style, outlet stores, we were far removed from everything. We didn’t have any fashion sense in that community, but my girl friend and I were very fashionable. We were just not satisfied with the ordinary,” she said.

Tusajiwe did things her own way. She changed her name 28 years ago from Linda Annette Sims. She said the name was “too country” and decided to change it. Her name, Theuda Nmosa Tusajiwe, is derived from Swahili, according to The outlet reported that it means benevolent, charitable, and blessed by God.

“I changed my name because it fits who I am. It describes who I am as a person. African names describe your character or what you strive to be, things you want to develop in your character,” Tusajiwe said.

At the time, Tusajiwe and her friend started making outfits with the help of the only person in their community who knew how to sew. They later saved money, bought their own sewing machine and made new outfits to go dancing, according to

Tusajiwe’s love for sewing continued after graduating high school. She then entered the military and held fashion shows in the barracks to showcase her talent.

“It was just something that never left me. Every aspect of my work has been centered around sewing,” she said.

During her time in Germany, Tusajiwe got married and then moved back to Birmingham to start a family. However, that did not stop her from incorporating sewing into her life. With time, she continued to hone her craft and worked in different alteration shops across the city.

In her late 30s, she became the first Black woman to work as a costume designer at the Birmingham Children’s Theater. While Tusajiwe enjoyed working there, she had always dreamed of working for herself.

“I never could, ever work for anyone too long. I could only stay for a short period of time. I left that job, which was a good job, to open up my own shop,” she said. “I was never satisfied working for somebody else because I’m working and contributing all my skills, and all of my time and all of my energy into somebody else’s business. I wanted to do my own thing.”

Tusajiwe pursued her dream and opened her own shop in 2018. Two years later, she found a large building in Woodlawn to expand her business. She makes dresses, tailors and alters clothing, and teaches one-on-one sewing classes, per to

While she may have her own business, Tusajiwe has more things she wants to accomplish. She hopes to receive financial aid to grow her business, own the building she’s currently renting her shop in, and team up with others to launch a clothing line.

“We want to do all those things but it takes time, it takes a lot of patience and it takes a team of people to do it, not only the people that work in the building, but the people that help support us and keep up afloat when things get hard. And they do get hard,” she said. “We want to be here and we feel like we deserve it because we’ve earned it.”

Tusajiwe gives back to the Birmingham community by offering services for almost any occasion, including funerals, proms and even custom-made items. But she mostly finds joy in knowing her grandchildren look up to her.

“I love being a Black woman business owner because I think it speaks to a lot of young people who come in and see me do this. That’s really why I want to set a good example for them to see that it’s possible,” Tusajiwe said. “I would love to be a mentor to other Black women who have a love for this industry.”