APiF: Please introduce your business and your designs.
Lou Osei: Ashanti Lou footwear is a fashion conscious brand for an individual who likes to stand out from the crowd. Ashanti Lou explores different shapes, materials and themes to create the most unique pair of shoes. Most importantly: a percentage of every shoe sold will be donated to charity.
APiF: How does your heritage inspire/influence your designs?
Lou: As a British-born Ghanaian my heritage plays a big part in the creation of my footwear. Hidden within every shoe (not just the Tribal Collection) there is a link referencing my African roots.
- African culture is not dull, it has an energetic narration, hence the use of bold colors and Kente fabrics originally from the Ashanti region of Ghana. Every color and fabric has a story to tell. For example: the color blue represents royalty or the Supreme Creator (God). Gold shows social prestige, wealth and royalty. All the sacrifices and blood shed is symbolized by the color red.
- The use of plaits or braids is the nostalgic memory of having my strong, thick and resilient hair in plaits or cornrows, I’m sure every black girl has their own braiding story, LOL!
- I use Swarovski crystals to represent the most precious stone, diamond that is native to Africa. Gold is also used frequently in my work to represent the valuable metal also from the Motherland.
- Chains feature prominently in my designs to represent the dark past of slavery.
- Mirrors are used as a sign of reflection. Like MJ said he’s starting with the man in the mirror to make that change! And I long to do the same, through my charitable designs I hope that people will consciously be more aware of lending a hand others.
APiF: If your label would be a person, what kind of person would it be?
Lou: They would be a ‘walking party’! A genuine people person who loves to have a great time where ever they are, a person who is confident in their style and who they are as an individual. They like attention and must have items that nobody else has. Not only do they like to feel good about themselves, they want others to feel great too and will go out of their way to offer a helping hand.
APiF: Any tips for new designers/start-ups in the fashion industry?
Lou: A little bit random but the words of Sister Mary Clarence (yes you read it right, LOL) to Rita, resonates in my head: “If you wake up in the morning and you can’t think of anything first but singing, then you are supposed to be a singer girl!” I applied that to my invasive thoughts of becoming a footwear designer.
For a long time I wasn’t physically doing anything about it because I was over-planning and stressing over finances. Do not do this! Everything will eventually fall into place. Go now and pick up a pen and start sketching! Grab those scissors (I can see you looking at ‘em) and start cutting your materials. Remember time waits for nobody, so make it happen!
APiF: How and where can readers purchase your shoe designs?
Lou: I will be officially launching in the summer of 2012 and the shoes can be purchased via sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. All shoe prices vary and are available upon request.