If you’ve taken a trip downtown in the past six months, you may have seen the new African store on 4th Street. The bold orange sign and string-light framed windows showcasing vibrantly patterned clothing are hard to miss.
Jambo African Fashion and Design brings you fabrics, wood carvings and an endless assortment of beads straight from Kenya. They are one-of-a-kind handmade African items—something that was hard to find in Harrisburg before now.
“I would love people to come taste African fashion and try it out,” said Edwin Maina, who owns the store with his wife Yolanda.
Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Edwin came to America in 2011 followed by Yolanda in 2014. He started out working in Bristol, Pa., before moving to Harrisburg in 2013.
Yolanda had made and sold clothing in Kenya under the guidance of her mother who taught her the skill. A few years after she moved to Harrisburg to accompany her husband, she began designing clothes and jewelry to sell at markets and events like Artsfest.
“People were asking us if we had somewhere they could come and buy our things,” Edwin said. “I told my wife, ‘It’s high time we open a shop.’”
The Mainas evaluated the local economy and decided to make their clothing affordable to the community they were serving—making their quality goods a deal for any fashion lover.
“Even if I wasn’t African, I would love it,” said Susan Irungu, a regular customer. “They are really friendly and polite—in customer service, that’s all you need.”
Irungu even recalled times when she didn’t have the money for a clothing item at the time, and Yolanda would let her pay later in the week.
Not only do the Mainas care for their community in Harrisburg, but they seek to empower their friends and family in Nairobi, as well. Edwin explained how they create employment for women back home in Kenya who weave the baskets and bags they sell in their store. Family members also help make the items to be sent to Jambo for purchase.
Walking around the store, your eyes bounce from color to color, each pattern unique and carefully stitched. There’s everything from casual culotte pants to professional web capes to traditional dashiki shirts. There are fist-sized earrings and quarter-sized studs, thick bangles and dainty stringed beads. If you try on something and it doesn’t fit, chances are, Yolanda can tailor it for you. Or you can pick out a fabric for a custom-made clothing item. Edwin can even embroider it. For a small shop, there are endless choices and something for everyone.
“You won’t plan to buy anything and then you walk in and you’re like, ‘Oh, I want that skirt!’” Irungu said.
While business is good, Edwin is all about the people.
“My favorite part is the interaction, meeting new people and sharing the African culture,” Edwin said.
He hopes to incorporate hair braiding into their business in the near future. Long-term, Edwin would love to assist people in learning more about African culture by providing trip planning services to those wishing to visit Kenya.
A trip to Jambo isn’t just a trip to any other fashion boutique. You can’t leave without getting a glimpse into African culture or talking with Edwin about his beautiful home country. The designs will make you want to come back, and the prices will keep you coming back. All the while, the smiling faces of Edwin and Yolanda will be there to greet you.
“They are unique, they make everybody feel special,” Irungu said. “It doesn’t matter who comes in.”
Jambo African Fashion and Design is located at 19½ N. 4th St. Harrisburg. For more information, visit and like their Facebook, Etsy and Instagram pages.