APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Anita Quansah: I created Anita Quansah London in 2006, after obtaining a textile degree in 2003 from Chelsea College of Art and Design London. I have been working to develop and promote recycling in my designs by creating elaborate, one of a kind statement jeweleries. My pieces are strong statements which are a fusion of home-spun ethnic, arts and crafts aesthetics that command attention.
APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
Anita: My cultural heritage has had a huge impact on my work. Coming from a mixed African background, half Ghanaian and half Nigerian, has exposed me to a lot of traditions, cultures with rich materials and textiles. The bold and vibrant colors in Africa are phenomenal. I try to inject these into my work a lot by incorporating rich, luxurious African prints mixed with vintage 1940’s pieces, chains, pearls and shells. It gives it a totally new look which is rare and unique.
APiF: How do u feel about the new African Prints/Fabric trend? Is it here to stay?
Anita: Africa is full of many rich cultures and traditions; I can see how this has influenced a lot of designers. This reoccurring trend Africa/Tribal/Bohemian or better referred as “Culture Club” or “One world” has been evident throughout the fashion weeks. The trend is gradually putting Africa in the lime light. Many western designers (Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood, Thakoon, Suno NY and many more) are showing huge interest in Africa and its cultures.
More and more African designers are now recognized across the world and worn by many celebrities. Take for example the likes of the First Lady Michelle Obama wearing pieces by Nigerian designer Duro Olowu, Beyonce and Solange Knowles spotting pieces designed with African prints, Rihanna’s music videos and performances at the Grammy’s emphasising Africa and its fashion. Africa is currently an ‘in thing’.
“Just like we have fought for our voices to be heard, we have achieved the same with our fashion. And I believe it is here to stay, as we have been recognized finally. Our great nation is full of many talents and whether the world is ready, well that is another case, but I am delighted to see in my lifetime the recognition and to be part of it.“
APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
Anita: I am very lucky because I have worked with a lot of creatives in the fashion industry from leading magazine editors, to stylists and photographers. We do all our marketing in-house, so our marketing is done through a lot of publicity campaigns such as magazine features. We are very delighted to have a brand that people like and have very keen interest in. We frequently work with bloggers, which is the way forward, because of the increased interest in online press.
Anita Quansah London has a huge following and this is also thanks to our networking sites such as Flickr, facebook and twitter. These three major platforms have shaped our brand immensely and we constantly get requests via them. We are also featured on sites such as Not Just A Label (NJAL), a platform that celebrates creatives in the fashion industry. And we participate in events such as fashion shows and exhibitions which is incredible for us, because a lot of people can have a closer look at the designs and try them on.
The overall reaction is breathtaking, it makes me as the designer feel like I am on the right path, spiritually, mentally and creatively.
APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Anita: Three words: Dream, Believe Achieve. This gets me through anything. And also hard work and perseverance pays off in the end. In this industry you will go through a lot of hurdles. But as far as you are focused and believe in yourself and your product, you will always stand out from the rest. Also love every bit of what you do. I am in love with what I am doing and it gives me greater joy that it does to others as well, that is priceless.