ASHYA Founders Create The Most Stylish Accessories As They Travel The World

Courtesy of Adrienne Raquel

Traveling to new territories almost always refreshes the prospect. It is the unknown landscapes and associated cultures that lead the viewer to see his home port in a new light upon his return. But what could be more beautiful than traveling the world? Easy, nothing can truly surpass the beauty of our world’s most natural creations except having the chance to travel with a friend. From experience, embarking on a trip also usually sparks new ideas – there’s something about being in a completely new place that triggers these blisters. Take Ashley Cimone and Moya Annece for example: the two best friends had a common “aha” moment during a trip to India which resulted in the creation of their luxury accessories brand, ASHYA. “ASHYA is a loving child of Moya and I’s friendship,” Cimone told ESSENCE. “We met as classmates at FIT [Fashion Institute of Technology] and over the years, by sharing our dreams and aspirations, traveling the world together and researching careers in fashion, we have found some commonalities. “

Like any other budding fashion entrepreneur, the two founders were looking from the start for an untapped market to differentiate themselves. In India, Cimone and Annece found white space in design, especially among accessories, and it turned out to be trendy belt bags. They were inspired by their need to move freely in style, which led to the creation of accessories that spoke to the modern day explorer. “Exposing ourselves to black and brown cultures around the world has influenced us in a way that we want to honor them through our sense of design,” explains Cimone. “Ashya is an ode to exploration.”

Before entering the design field, Cimone started out in fashion with operational roles and Annece worked in public relations and project management. However, the start of their career in the commercial sector laid the foundation for running their own fashion brand. “I’m glad we worked in the fashion world before we got into design, as it allowed me to hone my skills, develop a keen business sense and understand how a design comes to life.” , says Annece. Usually when two people decide to run a business together, one leads the business front and the other gets behind the wheel of the creation, but this is not the case with the ASHYA team. “On a day-to-day basis, Ashley and I co-create, co-design and co-manage the production. We have junior level team members supporting us, but we handle the day-to-day together,” Annece explained. is very collaborative, and there’s just a certain level of trust that we have with each other that I appreciate, ”Cimone said.

Since the brand’s launch in 2017, following their own pace has not yet turned them off. ASHYA has been recognized on several occasions as one of the premier fashion accessory brands, has received awards from CFDA and Harlem’s Fashion Row, and has been spotted on some of the most stylish celebrities including Beyoncé. And speaking of moving at their own pace, ASHYA is also one of the few brands that still uses genuine leather, as vegan leathers are becoming more and more important in the industry.

However, the founders of ASHYA are not left out, but they are more committed to ensuring the quality and monitoring the environmental impact of new vegan leathers. “I’m excited about the innovations that are happening in material space in general, and it’s definitely something we think about as we evolve,” says Cimone. “Vegan leather is delicate because there are different types. There are what we knew in the past to be leather or plastic based alternatives to leather, which although they are more environmentally friendly, there are still components that are not. Then there are materials created from apple skins, mushrooms, and vegetables, and with vegan leather moving away from plastic-based alternatives, I’m excited to explore innovations in the future. Until then, customers can take advantage of ASHYA’s new genuine leather offering in all of the brand’s innovative shapes and sizes.

2021 has been a year of growth for ASHYA as the brand has added new colors and textures to its much sought-after Bolo bag and even introduced a new style, the Shema slingback, which is hand-sewn and made from vegetable-tanned leather. and 14K gold plated hardware. But the most important pillar of growth for the brand has been the opening of a store in Industry City, a creative hub in Brooklyn, New York. The new development stems from an invitation to join the Makers Guild of Industry City, an immersive shopping destination where design studios meet retail. The timing couldn’t have been more divine as Cimone and Annece wanted to focus on DTC and opening a retail space seemed like the best way to interact with customers directly. “Our largest customer base is in New York. They are young creatives, young professionals, who just want to immerse themselves in our world, and they are ambitious buyers, who spend time with us to save money for our product, ”said Annece. “We are now able to have one-on-one interactions with customers to get immediate feedback and respond immediately. After thinking about running the store for a full year, Cimone added, “It has been a great learning experience. We have learned what we want for the brand and how to keep our customers happy.

Having had the chance to visit the ASHYA store, I can attest that the location is just as beautiful as the brand’s products. It is truly an extension of the brand’s vision and a reflection of the beautiful messages portrayed with each collection. “I think our identity as two black women with a luxury business informs everything we do,” Annece said. “Basically, it will always be a question of cultivating reflection, in particular in the travel space, such as designing something that facilitates movement with fluidity in the world and diversifying the stories thanks to the narration”, has t -she adds. Each of ASHYA’s collections has been influenced by exploration, and the two founders plan to continue allowing their future excursions to inspire the next ASHYA project.

In fact, the two founders are currently delving into their own roots to better understand where they came from and how this is embedded in their DNA. “Right now we’re really diving deeper to understand our own personal cultural heritage and make connections between our African-American Caribbean culture,” Cimone explained. “I am really excited to explore West Africa. I haven’t traveled there yet, but I’m really excited to learn more about my connection to the West African coast and, you know, to be with my people. Annece added, “I have had this very deep desire over the past few years to understand my roots to the point that I now live in Jamaica. I am also particularly interested in exploring Ghana due to the intersection between Jamaica and Ghana, and delving deep into my personal roots on this island because so much is lost and undocumented. While ASHYA encourages us to travel in style, interacting with the brand also inspires us to discover the origin of their family. Cimone says, “The desire for a connection to your roots is a desire to know yourself.”

As well as being two talented accessory designers and business owners, Cimone and Annece see themselves as modern day researchers as they embark on worldly explorations. And soon, they’ll unveil their latest findings as they finalize a short film that will preserve cultural histories and roll out with the “Heritage” collection coming out this month. Until then, buy the latest and greatest from the brand at ashya.co or go to the store by making a private shopping appointment on the site.

SUBJECTS: accessories ASHYA black designers fashion


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