APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Erika Freund: My name is Erika Freund and I am the founder and designer of Mikuti (dried leaf in Kiswahili). I work with various artisans in both Tanzania and Kenya, using recycled and organic material to create my designs.
Erika: I think that it’s not so much my heritage that inspires me, but my curiosity about other heritages and cultures. I’m very drawn to things that different than I know and have experienced. That might be environments, languages, art, music, fashion…I just like exploring what’s out there in the world. I’m extremely grateful to have had so many colorful life experiences thus far, and I think they collectively influence and inspire my designs.
APiF: If your label would be a person, what kind of person would it be?
Erika: Someone who you could take anywhere and by the end of the evening, everyone would want her number. She’s fun, charismatic, charming, and walks to the beat of her own drum.
APiF: Fashion Finds: What is your favorite piece of your collection and why?
Erika: Tough call because I am in the midst of working on a new line and I am loving each new piece! But probably the The Perfect Stack All Dressed Up. I love that we were able to take local material and wrap it with the bark. The tribal accent is a nice statement and they are a perfect summer accessory.
APiF: How do you market your designs and how do you make them accessible to a global audience?
Erika: It’s important for me to connect with the creative scene in various parts of Africa, New York and Europe. I’ve accessorized various shows in all places and I really want my line to produce pieces for a global market. Having them show cased at events in different countries helps give them that attention. And being stock listed in various countries does that as well.
APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry? Erika: Connect with like-minded people and surround yourself with support. It can be challenging at times. And have fun, take risks, don’t be worried to reach out to established people in the industry…..everyone starts somewhere.