Some of you might recognise Lucy Mulima from the lookbook for our ‘Shashe’ collection, where we had the pleasure of adorning her beautiful, bold soul with our jewellery. Back then is when we met Lucy, and we have absolutely loved her ever since.
This one woman team is the founder and designer of her fashion label Aya Goods, where she works with African inspired wax prints and traditional handwoven fabrics to create ready-to-wear apparel. She has also just launched Wholistic, which boasts a sensational new range of organic body butters.
Lucy chatted to us about what inspires her, the ins and outs of her creative process and how she finds balance in the busy world of business.
Image: Anke Loots
How did your dream of Aya come to life?
Aya came to life through a combination of concerted effort, personal willpower and a sprinkling of madness. I set about creating my first range in a frenzy of inspiration while trying to figure out my “true purpose”. I’m a journalist by profession and to be honest, a ready-to- wear clothing line was not high on my list, especially after vowing to “never go back to fashion retail.” Nevertheless, I went out on a limb and started finding the answers to questions I would have never known to ask. And here we are a year and 8 months later on a creative, dream fuelled business adventure.
You are not originally from South Africa. Where were you born and what has your experience been like living and owning a business here?
I was born and raised in Zambia and came to South Africa after completing my high school education as a wee youth of 18. I became an adult here, so to speak, and my experience has been one of learning and unlearning in a personal sense, as well as in a business sense since the time that I started Aya. I feel that owning a business has facilitated an exploration and questioning of my belief system in terms of what I attribute value to and to what end. I have also come to appreciate the adage “home is where the heart is,” as I feel it speaks succinctly to putting heart into our surroundings, wherever we find ourselves.
We LOVE your bold style of prints. What inspires the fabric you work with? What draws you to it?
I’m drawn to various components in the prints that I work with. Sometimes it’s colour, the weave of the cotton, or oftentimes the motifs I find resonance with in a moment of inspiration. I love symbols and try to look for them in everything. The prints I work with afford me an opportunity to explore and ponder my associations to the cultural symbols that surround us.
You obviously wear your own clothing. How does it make you feel when wearing it?
Wearing Aya is almost second nature at this point and I’m continually grateful for this reality. I strived to create practical, functional apparel and wearing a piece from my range is an affirmation of THE dream, as well as an opportunity to render new dreams and explore new processes.
What rituals do you have in place to manage moments of self-doubt or adversity?
Yoga, meditation and hiking all help me breathe through whatever emotions come up in the course of creating. I try not to compromise my yoga practice schedule and always take the time to go hiking when I can. Another ritual that helps me on a daily basis is always reminding myself to take conscious deep breaths to check in with my body in times of tension/anxiety. I find this keeps me grounded in the present moment and facilitates the ability to respond rather than react when self-doubt or adversity set in.
Where do you see your brand in 5 years? Do you have a long-term dream?
In 5 years time, I dream of an Aya that is a thriving, sustainable fashion/lifestyle business – well established in the South African fashion industry.
What do you think the world needs more of?
The world is vast and I would be reaching if I proclaimed I had even an inkling of what it needs. But I do feel that humankind would benefit from more people striving and doing the things that need to be done for personal healing. We live in a time where it comes easy to look outwards for answers and validations. I feel it could be beneficial for each of us to look within and commune with our deepest desires for the greater good, and to go about manifesting them.
And lastly – Any #femalestofollow you can recommend to our customers?
@philisa.zibi for her soulful jewellery. She is an amazing being with an illuminating spirituality, which one gets a glimpse of (in my opinion) in the pieces that she so meticulously brings to life.