SHADDERS INTERVIEW EMERGING GHANAIAN DESIGNER NINA BARKERS-WOODE OF FASHION LABEL LOVE APRIL
Hi Nina, how are you doing today? Thanks for doing this interview with me!
Can you give me some background information about When did your career in the fashion industry begun? And what did you do before?
I’m a young woman with a lot of ambition; my interest in the fashion industry started at a young age, with my family and just my environment. Living in Ghana you get exposed to the beauty of nature and different people, within Accra itself you intersect with people from all parts of the world and backgrounds as well as our own people. Our country and culture allows us to explore different tribes and view women and beauty in many different ways.
I was also blessed to have the opportunity to travel, which has expanded my view of beauty of a women and different textures and styles. I started fashion school after trying my hand at political science in Legon. I started at Vogue Style School of Fashion and started my journey within the fashion industry. I started working and developing my brand and began Love April in 2011.
Love April, operates as a designer and retailer of apparel and accessories for women in Ghana and internationally. It offers ready-to-wear clothes for women, leather goods, and accessories. It embodies today’s woman with the marriage between sophistication and sexiness which allows her to step into the world, where ever that might be feeling and looking confident.
What is your creative process like before a collection is created?
My creative process when creating a collection is hard to say exactly, I get inspired by just my everyday life and my family and friends, or my weekly fabric shopping for clients in Accra. My recent collection was inspired by street style around the world, I fell in love with structure, and creativity and I used the beauty of everyday life experiences and street style and blended it with a bit of grunge and a lot of sexiness and sophistication. This collection was focused on the modern creative woman, she is and always will be a chameleon in many ways and her wardrobe is a way in which she expresses herself.
What is the most difficult aspect of running your own label?
I would say having to multi task, owning my own brand means I have to oversee every aspect of my brand. I can’t leave the decision making to others, I want my clients to be getting the full Love April experience and that means being a part of everything, even the parts that I don’t like, such as long meetings and the not so creativity parts.
What do you think fashion in Africa needs more of right now?
When it comes to the fashion industry I feel like we are finally making progress, but we are not on the same level as the international front, our continent is full of so much beauty and textile yet when it comes to the fashion industry we don’t have the support or production that the fashion industry internationally has right now. What happened in Ghana this past October was beautiful, it embodied everything that the industry needs right now. We need a hub for designers, stylist, and production, models, photographers, and public relations so that new designers such can collaborate.
I found it hard to get my foot in the door while starting, because I didn’t have that hub which made it hard. Within this industry when you put out a collection you need those people to get you to the next level and help you with shows and getting your work out to the public, the fashion industry is not run by one person, and we need that part of the industry in Ghana. We are missing those links.
Do you pay attention to what other designers are doing?
I would be lying if I said I don’t, not to generalize and speak for every designer out there, but I think we do look at one another’s work, you just have to. Because you’re in a creative industry you want to know what other designers are doing, what they are inspired by and how they’re doing in general. In Ghana the hub is very small, so we need to see what is going on and work together.
Who are your target markets? Do you sell locally or internationally?
My target market is women in general, Love April is for the young and old we have pieces that look good on different shapes and different types of women.
We work locally and internationally, we have clients around the world. On a local front I would love to work with more celebrities and expand my market, which we are working on. When it comes to an international market we would love to dress more women internationally and expand our market. We are a young brand so I am very proud of how fast we are expanding, and hopefully we keep reaching our target locally and internationally.
What is your favorite piece from your collection at Ghana Fashion & design Week show that you are most proud of? Why?
My favorite piece from my current collection is the black sequins piece the simplicity of the piece embodies the Love April women, and can be worn in many different ways. I love the fit and the way the fabric hugged the body in all the right places. This was my favorite piece as well as the public’s favorite piece.
Do you have admiration for any famous designer(s)? Why?
Alexandra Wang is a great talent and I admire his work because he pushes limits with his designs, he mixes female sophistication, grunge and street style. He started out as a drop out and has been able to create a well known and respected brand. He is an inspiration to new designers like me.
Jason Wu is also extraordinary designer; he worked his way up the ladder and creates garments that every woman, young and old would love to be seen wearing. He creates a fantasy for you through his garments and makes you feel like royalty, He has dressed the first lady of the United States that is a big accomplishment for an immigrant who moved to Canada and started from the bottom up.
Where do you see your career going next?
At the moment I feel like the sky is the limit, I have so much I want to do and I want my brand to grow and develop internationally. I want to take over Ghana and the world, I am excited that the press is giving us such great feedback and I am really looking forward to sharing my creativity.
Outside of fashion, what are you looking forward to? And what is your career objective?
I am looking forward to developing my brand and just growing as a person, I’ve tried many things and fashion has always been the right fit for me. So I’m excited to share my creativity with my nation and create new connections.
I want to build a brand that everyone is proud to see, I don’t want to last for just a year and die out I am here to stay we have a lot coming up this year.
Any new or upcoming project(s) you are working on that you’d like to share with us?
Right now we are working on an upcoming show, so look out for that, Ghana Fashion Week gave the world a sneak peek of the Love April collection, but we would like to give you the full view of the Love April brand.
We are also in the process of developing are casual line, which includes unisex t-shirts and leather goods for women, which has a strong vintage feel. So we are really excited about that. I don’t want to give everything away you know (lol), But we have a lot coming out so watch out for Love April in the New Year.
What advice would you give those who want to pursue fashion design?
I would say go for it, Ghana’s fashion industry is growing rapidly and we have a great market for new designers. If you want to do something in the fashion industry or within any industry take the chance work hard, get those contacts and let you creativity flow. The sky is the limit and you never know what will happen unless you go for it, because if you don’t you will always have that feeling of “what if I did do it”. Sometimes taking that chance is worth it, and allows you to grow as a person, even if it doesn’t turn out the way you expect.
Who would you like to see wearing Love April?
I would love to see Rihanna because she is such a chameleon and is willing to try and explore the fashion world, she embodies the Love April woman and she has never stuck to trends she is always evolving. Zoe Saldana has great style; she can be formal on the red carpet and has great street style. I love that about her she looks great in everything I would love to see her in one of my pieces one day.
What are your own personal rules for dressing?
You can look sexy covered up, simplicity and minimalism embodies the women, and you don’t have to overpower your beauty by over accessorizing or showing extra skin.
What would you suggest to those that want to be involved in the business of fashion?
Go for it! Don’t let anything stand between you and your dream. This might sound cliché but it’s the truth you only live once and you have to go for what you believe, don’t second guess yourself do you want while you have the chance to do so.
Marketing wise, where can readers purchase your gorgeous spring/summer 2013 collections?
Readers can contact me through my facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Love-April) as well as email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can work together to create a garment that is well suited for them.
Are there any thoughts or anything else you would like to say?
Just look out for Love April in the New Year, we have a lot to share with the world, and we are super excited to have such a great platform to do so.
Thank so much for the support.