Sometimes you meet people who are really sweet and genuinely so… that is something I can say about Amma. She is a sweet person. She has big lovely eyes and she has a fun spirit you can’t escape if you are in the same room with her. I went over to her house to have a little chat about her life and her work. She designs ready-to-wear clothes, mostly dresses and also has a huge interest in Architecture. I met up with her while she was babysitting her nephews and nieces. This is part of my conversation with her:
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO?
I’m trying to open my own store, I already have the space, it is being built and I am designing the whole thing myself. It is going to be just down the road from Fashion Café, literally a minute away. It has twice the space of Fashion Café!
SO YOU PROBABLY HAVE TO MAKE A LOT MORE STUFF NOW RIGHT?
Yes, you see, I have to produce for three stores as we speak and I’m working in Atlanta as well. And I’m just finishing school. It was a struggle balancing Le Rouge and school but the reason I kinda mellowed down was just to try to get my first class (we thank God!)
Me: ahh congratulations!! SO IN SCHOOL, YOU STUDIED ARCHITECTURE RIGHT?
I started off with architecture and three years into it, I switched to interior. It was a five year course and I kept paying attention to the interior, I did not even realise I was that into interior architecture so I came to a point where I had to pick either architecture, landscape architecture or interior architecture and so I picked interior architecture. I had to do a PowerPoint presentation for my dad to agree to that though.
When I was in secondary school, I told him I wanted to study fashion and he was like “You are not becoming a tailor!” I said okay fine! I did my A-levels and it was right after that, I decided –you know what? Why not just do this on the side?
YOU WERE ONE OF THE FIRST IN OUR AGE GROUP AT THE TIME TO START READY TO WEAR WITH ANKARA, THAT’S WHAT STANDS OUT TO ME THE MOST ABOUT LE ROUGE BECAUSE IT WAS ONE OF THE FIRST. WHAT PUSHED YOU TO DO IT?
After secondary school, I moved to England. My dad does not spoil us, my dad is very strict and it’s not like he doesn’t give us money but he does not give it in excess. He gives you enough to take care of yourself, the necessities and after I went, my eyes opened! I wanted to buy Chanel!
And I’ve never been one to go like ”okay Baba I need money”, I would never ask anyone for money so I figured okay, I like this, I’ve been sewing and every time I wear something, people are like, I want one. And I started making stuff and I realized okay- I am doing this for fun and I am making money off it. Let’s see if I can make enough to make myself feel fabulous. And that’s what I did.
SO YOU OBVIOUSLY HAVE TO DEAL WITH NEGATIVITY, HOW DO YOU HANDLE IT?
I keep to myself. I don’t go out to find people and whoever comes to find me, fine. I’m not anti-social but I’m not out there either
I GET THAT! SO, WHERE DO YOU SEE LE ROUGE IN ABOUT FIVE YEARS’ TIME?
In five years people are gonna get tired of Le rouge (jokes!)! I never marketed myself, I just wore my stuff and people wanted to buy them and when I started putting it on instagram, people started following. I don’t know from where, how or why so I get people ordering stuff from Russia, Argentina, I even got someone from India. And at first, I had to be like, “oh sorry I don’t ship” but they were willing to pay whatever for it and I thought I was a joke until I realized people actually took me seriously. So, even without much marketing, this is how far I have gone so picture if I am actually done with school and I am ready to go “boom!” I have not been going overboard for the past six years because I had school on the side and if my grades drop, it is a problem. So that’s why I kind of maintain the ‘no marketing’. I just put stuff on instagram for the fun of it, so once I am done with school, I’ve saved up enough money to go in with marketing so I feel like I have the capability to blow up by God’s grace.
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR COLLECTIONS?
Everything. It depends on my mood… I watch TV a lot. This particular jacquard collection was actually inspired by The Sound of Music, that’s actually what inspired me. I think my favorite collection was inspired by the beach. I was down by the beach and I saw flowy stuff! Any kind of thing inspires me. I can see sand and feel like I want to do a muted tone collection, that kinda thing. It’s literally my life!
Amma’s store opening is on the 14th of May 2016.