Catching up with the creative director of MAWI brand is not as easy as the CD herself is.
• The your brand name MAWI, sends the mind to Malawi; where was it coined from? Why Mawi?
MAWI was first an acronym – Mojisola Alaso’s Wears and Interiors.
Later on, we decided not to limit our brand by the name. There are a whole lot of creative things we can do, we didn’t want the name to be a barrier.
Then, we decided it’d be just MAWI.
In Yoruba, MAWI can be loosely translated as “keep talking”, so it isn’t from Malawi.
Our brand is focused on story telling. So, we keep talking about about creativity, our culture, history and women who are hardworking and things happening in our environment.
We also want people to keep talking about our brand. Hence, MAWI.
• Where do you draw your inspiration from?
God is my inspiration. My inspiration also comes from my immediate environment. Sometimes, I see things around me and it strikes me that I can make a print out of them. Sometimes, I’m watching the television; an idea hits me and I pen it down.
At other times, I see some prints in my sleep. Funny but true.
• You are promoting African fabric and culture with your brand, what is the story behind it; do you do other contemporary designs and international fabrics?
I am an African woman and a proud one. I express myself more with my hand dyed textile fabrics.
All our fabrics are hand crafted and focused on promoting our African culture.
We make premium hand-dyed adire fabrics. Adire is mostly African. I love to tell stories with our prints.
We recently launched a collection where we celebrated Chief Dr. Mrs Nike Okundaye and told her story with our prints.
However, we also have customers in diaspora.
We sometimes make prints that are a blend of two cultures but we always try to maintain our African authenticity.
We are always creating new designs. We also style our fabrics by creating outfits that will suit the taste of our customers.
• How was growing up like?
I grew up in a closely knit family of 6. I have a brother and two sisters. That’s 3 siblings altogether.
My mum was very strict. I was not too expressive as a child and I used to get into trouble with my mum a lot.
I’ve always been creative. As a child, I used to save up my money to buy art materials. I made small paintings and greeting cards. I had great passion for Art. This fueled my interest in studying Creative Arts in the university.
My parents were supportive.
• How has your journey in fashion designing been?
My journey has been an amazing one. I have always had passion for creativity. I would watch tailors while they paddle the machine. I used to draft patterns and keep them in my diary.
I get frustrated when I give the images to some tailors and they find it difficult to interpret the style.
I learnt how to paddle the machine by myself. During the lockdown period last year, I learnt how to sew from my younger sister.
She was amazed at how fast I was able to learn. Within few days of learning, I started sewing and I drafted patterns from the images I pictured in my mind.
After a while, I decided to launch a ready to wear line for Mawi, so I collaborated with fashion designers to achieve this.
Textile and fashion designing is interesting to me.
I look forward to making new designs for the run way.
• How have you been able to deal with challenges as a startup?
God had been my rock, I trust Him completely.
Recently after the endsars protest, we lost all our fabrics when our store was vandalised. It was a very sad one but we were able to scale through and we launched our Ìrìn Àjò collection.
Just like gold passes through fire and come out beautiful, I have decided to get stronger as I face challenges at every point in life. I am better and stronger each passing day.
• Who are your fashion muse?
My customers are my Muse. Once I see them, I immediately get ideas of the kind of prints that would suit their skin colour, their class and lifestyle. So yes, my customers are my muse.
• Define your style of fashion?
My style is comfort and simplicity. You can never go wrong with these two.
• What is it you wont be caught dead wearing?
Lol… I think I won’t be caught dead wearing a lingerie.
• Favorite fashion,/accessory and make up brand?
I love earrings and bangles a lot. I am not really a make up person. When I need to wear make up, I pay make up artists to do it for me.
• What would you have done differently?
I would have have started business since I was in school. It would have strengthened my heart and it would have helped me to be more daring when I started MAWI.
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