Interviewed at her home in Cincinnati by Sandra Grady
8 October 2011

Lilian Nyam was born and raised in Bamenda in the Northwest Province of Cameroon, and is a member of the Metta ethnic group. She married and had seven children, and after her husband died, she wanted to learn a skill to support herself and her family. She saw some clothing designed around traditional embroidery in a shop window in 2001 and thought it was beautiful. When she learned that it was done by hand, she decided to learn how to do it. So she sought out a master of it in Cameroon and, after a month, finished the course. Then she began embroidering and designing clothes herself. She became successful enough to open her own shop and begin training others in the technique, including her children. She sold her work outside Bamenda and the business grew.

In 2006, she came to the US because she had two brothers living in the Cincinnati area, leaving her daughter in charge of the business in Cameroon. In time, she arranged for two of her children and one grandchild to join her in Cincinnati. Her embroidery and design cannot support her in the US, so she also works as a Certified Nurse’s Assistant in a group home in addition to practicing her craft. She would like to teach it to Americans.

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