APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Souadou Barry: Fulani is a fashion accessory label that specializes in designer bags. The brand launched in 2011 its first collection: the Kesso Satchel. We offer luxury handbags in simple and elegant lines that complement the rich fabric inserts, while the soft leather frame and Italian hardware give it a contemporary feel. Fulani offers timeless elegance with a touch of eclectic sensitivity.
APiF: How does your heritage inspire/influence your designs?
Souadou: As architect and designer, creating beauty has always been a source of comfort and fulfillment. Born and raised in Senegal, West Africa, studying in Europe and now residing in the U.S., I get my inspiration from all the places I have visited but also from the place I come from. The principle element of design in this collection is inspired by a unique and rich handwoven fabric called Rabaal. The artisans who weave the delicate fabric by hand have kept the original patterns and have introduced a rainbow of vibrant and rich colors to the palette. Fulani is taking an traditional fabric and making it contemporary and fashionable.
APiF: How do u feel about the current trend regarding all things “African”?
Souadou: Africa has always been a great source of inspiration for designers all over the world. If African designers are able to make this a permanent trend – by using African patterns, fabrics and prints in a contemporary way, to offer designs that are attainable to a global audience – then this is a great thing!
APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece in your closet or of your collection and why?
Souadou: I absolutely love the Kesso Glam. The fabric insert is modern and glittery – an add of glamour to any wardrobe. The metallic green and shiny shades goes perfectly against the black leather frame and the silver hardware. The Kesso is roomy enough to carry all your essentials with ample inside pockets to keep you organized. This is the perfect everyday bag that you can carry from the office through the night! Busy women on the go like myself just love it!
APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
Souadou: Social media , publications, fashion shows are the major tools we use to reach our audience. Our online store makes it easy to access global markets.
APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Souadou: Starting your fashion brand is an amazing journey with lots of ups and downs. You have to believe in yourself and need a strong point of view, but yet you need to have some humility and learn to take criticisms and grow. Don’t make the same mistake twice, don’t be afraid to reach out to people with the experience in your industry. But before you knock at the door, do your homework and educate yourself. If you have a vision and a plan, with hard work it will pay off.