APIF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Naana B.: I am a NYC-based fashion designer who has a line of clothing and handbags called Naana B. The line is created in Ghana by a women’s sewing collective. The women are trained at a sponsor NGO called Rural Communities Empowerment Center (RCEC).
APiF: When and why did you start designing with African Prints and Fabrics?
Naana B.: I am a lover of art and design. When I graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Visual Arts and Art History, I actually intended on pursuing a degree in architecture. As an art student I majored in sculpture and painting. I used a lot of fabric in my work and learned to sew through the process. Developing a line of clothing was a natural transition for me. Being from Ghana, African textiles were always a central point of inspiration for me. I started using the fabrics and never looked back.
APiF: How does your heritage inspire/influence your designs?
Naana B.: It is simply a natural extension of who I am. Every design decision I make is influenced by an element of my heritage.
APiF: How do u feel about the new African Prints/Fabric trend?
Naana B.: It is truly wonderful to see the fashion world embrace a craft that has been used and celebrated in Africa for 100’s of years. That being said, I believe emerging designers from Africa are finding it harder to garnish the international attention that designers such as Burberry and Marc Jacobs have benefited from when they’ve developed “capsule” collections with ethic prints. I believe we will get there.
APiF: If your label would be a person, what kind of person would it be?
Naana B.: A free spirit. Someone who loves adventure and seeing, experiencing new things.
APiF: What inspires u?
Naana B.: Art. I am an art lover and collector.
APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
Naana B.: With my line, my most successes from a sales perspective have come from word of mouth. I have many clients that own many of my pieces. Women who travel wear my line and therefore woman of the world buy it. It is global.
APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Naana B.: Stick with it. Building a team and trusting and relying on people can be tough. But its worth it. Work with people that believe in what you are about and doing.