During my last voyage to the Big Apple, a friend introduced me to Meghan Sebold, the founder and designer of budding clothing line AFIA. The samples from the 26-year-old entrepreneur’s sustainable line are more than merely fashionable, though. If AFIA becomes a reality, it will generate wealth and economic mobility for Ghanaian textile vendors and seamstresses by connecting them to the U.S. market. All textiles are purchased from small vendors in Ghana, and sewn by seamstresses who are paid fair wages. And, for women in the U.S., AFIA will be a new option for stylish apparel that is affordable, transparent about its production process, and has a high social impact.
To make her goal of changing lives in Ghana a reality, Meghan is currently asking for donations on RocketHub to fund her trip back to Ghana so she can produce a Summer 2011 capsule collection. With only a week and $165 between her and her goal, we asked Meghan to tell us more about the story of AFIA.
What does Afia stand for, and how do you pronounce it?
It’s pronounced “Ah-fee-yuh.” It’s Twi, which is one of the two dialects spoken by the Ashanti people of Ghana. Everyone in that culture is named by the day that they were born on. I was born on a Friday, which in Twi is “Afia,” and during my time in Ghana, I was addressed as Afia!
Where did you go to school? Did you study fashion?
I almost transferred to a fashion school, but didn’t. I’m pretty much self-taught! I went to the University of San Francisco, with a major in international studies and an emphasis on economics. When I went to Ghana [for a research project on the textile industry], the idea was to see how I could create an effective development and have a positive impact on their society. I was drawn [to Ghana because of] their iconic cotton wax textiles, their vibrant colors, contrast, and fibers. The women are extremely talented, and their textiles need more international exposure!
Is AFIA run by yourself, or does anyone else contribute?
It’s solely myself. I am, however, helped out by people who posses super talents. For example, the person that helped me out with my site worked on Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” video!
How many pieces will be in your collection?
Right now, I’m working around six pieces. Five dresses, a romper, and three separates–two skirts and a pair of shorts.
Your site bio says that AFIA mixes the motifs and history of West African textiles with urban American trends. What else inspires your designs?
I think that style is intuitive. Living in Brooklyn is a large source of inspiration for me, along with music. Music and fashion are very interconnected. And, traveling; being abroad reminds you of possibilities.
Where do you see Afia in two years… or 5 years?
I would see it on ModCloth! [Laughs.] I would like AFIA to sell through an online retailer that could honor my price point. Five years from now, I would like to introduce the textiles and designs of AFIA to different countries, like Bangladesh, anywhere in the world, you name it. I would love to host pop-up shops, events, and parties in other places. As of now, I already have a DJ and organic vodka sponsor. My first pop-up shop event will be held in Brooklyn this upcoming May to introduce the line and launch online sales.
If you want to support the growth of Meghan’s sustainably stylish concept, visit her project page on RocketHub! Donate $50, and you’ll receive a handwritten thank you and postcard from Ghana. Donate $300, and you’ll get to pick a piece from her collection, on the house! As of now, Meghan has a team assembled and ready to return to Ghana in March, and is less than $200 away from her goal! Additional donations through RocketHub will directly support Afia’s Ghanaian textile vendors and seamstresses.
Do you have any questions for Meghan? Looking forward, do you think shopping to support sustainability should be (or can be) the forefront of fashionable clothing?