Meet The Black Woman Behind The Company Giving African Designers More International Visibility
Amira Rasool is a native of South Orange, New Jersey. After college, she became the Fashion Coordinator at V Magazine. However, working for someone else was not something Amira wanted to spend the rest of her life doing.
While on a trip to South Africa, she was exposed to beautiful designer clothes and accessories. She wanted to know how she could purchase and support these designers once she returned back to her home in New York. Unfortunately, many of the designers did not have an online presence that would allow her to do so.
Amira did some research and decided to create a business around this. She applied to a Master’s program at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, got accepted, left her job, and moved there so that she could have access to the designers she was working with. In September 2018, The Folklore was born.
We spoke with Amira to learn more about her company and what it is all about.
Travel Noire:What is the aim/vision for the brand?
Amira: The vision for the concept store is to provide African designers with a professional and aesthetically pleasing platform for them to market their goods to global customers and support them in their mission to economically elevate their brands. I plan to build The Folklore to be the leading destination for global customers to shop exclusive high-end African designer goods in a highly curated and convenient manner. The Folklore aims to provide these designers with the same sort of legitimacy that European and American designers receive from global retailers who often ignore designers living on the continent.
TN: Who are some of the designers/brands that you are partnering with these days?
Amira: The Folklore currently stocks 20 designer brands either based in Africa or owned by someone of African descent. What’s been really cool is that we’ve been able to mix extremely popular brands like MaXhosa, Andrea Iyamah, Loza Maléombho, and Orange Culture with lesser known brands like MmusoMaxwell, Elle Est…, Rhita Sebti, and Thalia Strates. Of course, we love having top brands because they already have an established customer base and they have a history of consistently producing quality and creative work, but it’s also cool to work with emerging designers who have the vision but haven’t been completely cast into the spotlight yet.
TN: What sets The Folklore apart from other sites?
Amira: What sets The Folklore apart from other retailers is the designers. I would say that out of the 20 brands we stock, only 20% of them are stocked by retailers outside of the continent and only 30% of them have e-commerce channels where customers can buy directly from them. The Folklore is the only company in North America representing many of these designers, and we’re doing so at a high level and with meaning. The Folklore is about telling the stories of the designers and working with emerging talent to contribute to our vision.
TN: What’s next for you?
Amira: The Folklore is currently going through a big transition right now. Initially, when we launched in September 2018 it was completely self-funded. My parents kicked in some money and I emptied my savings account. Now we’re at the point where we tested the waters and now we’re looking to really grow. We are currently raising capital from Angel investors to expand our product offering, put more money into marketing, and host more pop-up shops in cities around the world.
I was originally doing all of this alone but now three other Black women have joined the team –– Tobi Idowu our Brand Partnerships and Sales Director, Amandla Baraka our Digital Content Manager, and Maya Haynie our Digital Marketing Manager.
TN: Where can we find you online?