Article written by Kit Heathcock and published in the Sunday Times Neighbourhood, 12 March 2017 http://yourneighbourhood.co.za
Vibrant contemporary African fashion and accessories conceptualised from a shared design studio in Hope Street, Gardens
The buzz of a shared studio space is ideal for a creative designer, as Lucy Mulima found when she joined Hope Street Studios last year. She tells us more about her business, Aya Goods.
Q: How did your business start?
After studying journalism, a stint in fashion PR and starting a natural skincare range using traditional ingredients from West Africa, I decided to try my hand at clothing. I’d attended a lot of workshops at the CCDI to get myself up to speed in terms of how a business should work and how I could harness my creativity to make a living. I had no real intention of working with African-inspired wax prints in the beginning, but it came easily to me having grown up with the fabric all around me in Zambia where it’s used for pretty much everything in day-to-day life. A friend could supply me with the fabric, so it was a no-brainer. Before I knew it, I had a logo, patterns and a few garments. In August 2015, I launched my range of outerwear at Open Design and I haven’t looked back since.
Q: Why did you choose this area for your business?
A: I was looking for a shared design studio space in the Cape Town CBD as I wanted to be central. I was closing my shop in Johannesburg (Work Shop New Town) when I heard about Hope Street Studios; the location was ideal – it seemed like fate.
Q: How did you find your premises?
A: I was tipped off by a creative acquaintance about a new shared space opening. I got in touch with Hannah Lavery who manages the space and luckily there was still availability.
Q: Why are the premises ideally suited to your business?
A: It’s amazing to be surrounded by creators in various disciplines. The space is always buzzing with people creating something new or chasing a deadline, which helps me stay focused on pushing the business forward, be it to produce or conceptualise new designs. Another exciting thing is everyone’s willingness to collaborate on projects, plus there’s always someone to bounce your ideas off or to get insight/advice from when needed.
Q: Who are your neighbours?
A: There are 15 of us in the shared studio, including jewellery makers, ceramicists, artists, fashion designers, photographers and more.
Q: What are the rental prices like in this area?
A: The rentals for our studios are reasonable, seeing as we’re splitting them between us all.
Q: How many people go through your store each day?
A: I don’t have a shop here, but I see people at the design studio by appointment. I’m currently stocking some of my products at the Thabo Makhetha Collective at the African Pride Hotel (15 on Orange).
Q: Do you have any expansion plans?
A: I’m looking to expand my brand presence by stocking more shops in Cape Town and Gauteng. I’m also looking at Europe and the US.
Q: Do you operate online as well?
A: My website has an online shop.
Q: What’s your most popular item?
A: This varies, but there seems to be a consistent interest in the 13” laptop sleeve.
See for yourself:
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