Women’s History Month in March and International Women’s Day on March 8 underscore the need to support women in all areas of life on a global scale. It’s also the perfect opportunity to support businesses that are founded and run by women from diverse backgrounds, many of which often go under the radar.
Here at The Folklore, one of the driving forces behind our mission to diversify the fashion landscape is building a platform that puts Black-owned and women-founded businesses at the forefront and not as an afterthought.
With first-hand experience of what it takes to succeed in the fashion industry, female business owners often pay it forward by working with other women, hiring female artisans and cultivating a team of creative women to help them achieve their visions and goals for their brands.
“As two women of color, we find that it is our distinct cultural heritage that informs the way we view the world and drives our desire to cultivate thoughtfulness and diversify narratives,” say Ashley Cimone and Moya Annece, co-founders of accessories brand ASHYA. “We’re very deliberate in working with mostly female and POC teams.”
To celebrate female entrepreneurs and business owners in the fashion industry, we’ve rounded up five women-owned brands that have recently arrived on The Folklore Connect and are available to shop wholesale now. From best friends and close relatives to those who changed careers to pursue their passions, get to know some talented women who are empowering themselves, and others, through fashion.
by Ashley Cimone and Moya Annece
Discrete bags and small leather goods that can be used every day are the calling card for accessories brand ASHYA. Co-founded in New York by creative directors Ashley Cimone and Moya Annece, ASHYA (which is a portmanteau of their names) was born as an ode to exploration of simple style, inspired by travel, cultural awareness and utility. The result is a collection of multi-functional and gender-neutral cross-body bags, passport cases and keyrings.
Cimone and Annece became fast friends after meeting at college, and decided to work together when they spent time traveling to India following their graduation. Taking inspiration from their experiences and exposure to cultures different from theirs, the duo created a collection of belt bags and accessories that are convenient and functional, without compromising on style.
by Cynthia and Najla Burt
Cynthia and Najla Burt are the creative mother-and-daughter duo behind ready-to-wear label Dur Doux. Cynthia’s enthusiasm for interior design and her sewing skills exposed her daughter Najla to fashion at a young age as she grew up watching her mother create clothing for her and her siblings. Najla went on to graduate from Parsons The New School for Design in New York, and while there, she honed her skills by interning and working for prestigious fashion labels such as MM6 Maison, Martin Margiela, and Balmain.
Drawing inspiration from their coastal upbringings in Florida, the designers reference the transformative power of nature, art, and design, to realize styles that inspire the wearer to feel their most confident and care-free selves. Dur Doux’s collections are known for their vibrant colors, prints and textures, through which the duo aims to celebrate inclusivity and modern femininity.
by Elyon Adede
Founded by Elyon Adede in 2018, Lagos-based womenswear label Elexiay offers knitted pieces with the goal of preserving local craftsmanship while minimizing environmental impact, and redefining crochet away from being known as “grandma’s clothing”. Each Elexiay piece is handcrafted by a team of female artisans — contributing to creation of jobs locally and the empowerment of women — who use knowledge passed down from generation to generation to create recyclable knit dresses and crochet separates that explore the rich history, heritage and workmanship of its native Nigeria.
by Kahindo Mateene
Based in New York City, ready-to-wear brand KAHINDO offers pieces that are designed as a celebration of the natural beauty of Africa, inspired by the founder Kahindo Mateene’s Congolese heritage and multicultural background, which saw her born in Uganda, educated in Kenya and residing in Ethiopia and Niger. From one-of-a-kind prints to a dynamic color palette of greens, pinks and purples, KAHINDO’s designs present a fresh reinterpretation of traditional African fashion in a modern yet sustainable way.
An alum of Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago, Mateene creates all of the brand’s colorful and original prints herself in New York City. Her collections have been showcased at fashion shows such as Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa and New York Fashion Week at the Harlem Fashion Row, as well as in publications including The New York Times, Elle, and Essence.
by Tiannia Barnes
Drawing on her love of fashion and design, which she discovered after creating her own prom dress in high school, Tiannia Barnes made the transition from a career in IT project management to starting her eponymous shoes and accessories brand in 2014. From bold heels designed to stand apart to comfy yet stylish flats, each pair of Tianna Barnes shoes is crafted in Italy from fine Italian leather and suede.
Designed for the modern woman on the go, Tiannia Barnes shoes are named after the women in the creative director’s life, such as family and friends. Highlights of her career have included designing custom footwear for the 2019 Met Gala, being selected as one of Footwear News’ emerging designers to watch, and showing at Paris and New York Fashion Week shows.