Tag Archives: black entrepreneurs

Feature Friday: K.U.A Designs

Ruby is both a visionary and, an active entrepreneur. The name K.U.A means:  “Keeping Us Authentic”.  Her designs are captivating, embodied with colors that are magnetic and creatively mixed.  When I first encountered K.U.A Designs,  I became an instant K.U.A fan.   A fan that Ruby, the founder, would call a “K.U.A baby”.  I was captivated.   Being Ghanaian born, and raised, Ruby is an inspiring female entrepreneur who has made the passage in designing purses, and jewelry, that are influenced by vibrant Africa effects. Ruby is beautiful, business-minded and, humble.   That makes for a source of great attraction.   Her sense of invention is marvelous.   So we caught up to chat with the founder of K.U.A Designs.  Also find K.U.A  on Facebook.

First of: Can we get some background info from you. (e.g Where you are from and what inspires you?

I was born and raised in Ghana. After earning a degree in Business Admin in Georgia, I worked in Finance for a while before deciding to focus on my creative side. Here I am, taking it a day at a time and enjoying the journey with its ups and downs.

Tell us a little about KUA Designs (e.g who is the founder, How did it start, what it means:

Kua Designs, a Ghanaian-inspired purse line was introduced to the world in 2009.  Before then, I had a jewelry company called Stringz Attached. This year, I put both ventures under the same roof and I decided to keep the name Kua because of the sentimental value it holds. Kua is my mother’s name and thus connotes all the things my mother stands for: authenticity, cultural grounding, cool confidence, simplicity and beauty. Yes, my mum is the best (not that you asked… LOL).  Kua also stands for Keeping Us Authentic and I strive to hold myself up to that in business decisions I make.

What inspires your designs?

The rich colors of African wax print, the warm textures of goatskin, and the organic shapes of semi-precious stones… the list can go on and on. But in short, the ‘life’ in these materials I use greatly influence what I make. That is why I enjoy picking out my own materials.

Who are your favorite emerging designers and what is it that you love about them?

I have a number of favorites but these come to mind right away:

Malene b is an independent carpet designer who draws on her experiences around the world to design beautiful carpet.

I love Orleans designs’ use of silks in her flirty collection

Ndamus Bags makes statement pieces! Raw and edgy.

Where can people buy your items?

Spring collection is available on Kua’s website www.kuadesigns.com under ‘Shop’.  I am always happy when Spring rolls back around because of all the fun colors.  I hope you enjoy my current collection as much as I enjoy making them.

What is your best attribute?

I asked a few friends (since I am not good with such questions) and this is what I got:  confidence, positive attitude, social/people skills, sense of humor, smile, creativity, very jovial, outgoing, bubbly, witty, analytical, full of life, vivacious and brainy. As you can tell, I have very kind friends.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?
A couple of years ago when I was still deciding whether to go at this full-time, my mum, in our Nzema language said “do whatever makes you happy as long as you don’t become a liability to someone”.  That is the best advice because it forces me to live within my means and propels me to go after my dreams! Did I mention she was the best? LOL

Excluding yours, what company or brand do you admire the most?
This is a tough one because I admire several.  Just last night, I saw Lisa Price of Carol’s Daughter on TV, so she comes to mind right away. I love her story; I love how she started from her kitchen and how she did small shows till she became the empire she is today. Very heart-warming and encouraging, to say the least…

Favorite lyrics from a song?
Again, I can’t quite pick because I truly don’t have one favorite but I have been listening to Sade’s latest album and I like something about her Long Hard Road song.

There’s a long hard road ahead
But a voice inside me said
You know there’s something that you need to know
It’s gonna be alright

Word you live by?

“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstance permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results”.  In short, if I want it, I must work hard to get it. Needless to say, tenacity is one of the things I pray God continues to shower on me 🙂

Friday Feature: Robert Tyndale of Room 322

I recently had the pleasure to interview Room 322 Owner, and Creative Designer, Robert Tyndale who is, without a doubt, a very impressive Young Entrepreneur!  It was inspiring to get a fresh, “get focused” approach to business ownership, targeted at those who, like me, have never fit the mold of what is essentially conventional.  So when I got to hearing his start-up story, selling streetwear from his car and working hard to meet buyers and sales reps, it resonated  a similar beginning to FUBU mogul Daymond John.

Tell us a little about Room 322

Room 322 is a lifestyle boutique based in Edmonton, Alberta. Unlike the typical clothing store, we focus mainly on lifestyle brands that are based on the streetwear community.  Streetwear seems to always be interpreted in different ways, so to make things clear, “streetwear” is not your stereotypical fashion that is made for only “black people”, but actually the fashion that is formed and embraced from the streets. Room 322 offers a variety of different apparel, footwear and accessories that have roots and a history behind them.  Our customers love this and, this unique sense of history keeps them coming back.

How would you describe your style?

My style, over the last two years, has changed and is something that I constantly work on improving. My main style is a combination of streetwear and contemporary mixed together. When it comes to my combination I pay attention to detail. You will see me rocking a wooden, beaded, soul power GoodWood chain, with a plain v-neck, and Evisu denim and a loud pair of Jays. One thing that I truly have a passion for is footwear. Any outfit cannot be complete without the right pair of kicks on your feet. I am the type of person who will wear a simple, clean, outfit with some banging shoes on my feet that will turn heads.

Who are your favorite emerging designers and what is it that you love about them?

One of my favorite emerging designers is: Philip T. Annand who runs a growing brand called Award Tour. Besides his interesting designs, I admire the concept behind Award Tour; the concept that emulates a constant pursuit of enjoyment. Like Philip I am currently attending University while running a business, so when he talks about his challenges, I relate to them a lot. It is just a matter of time before he gets fully into the fashion world and Award Tour will be internationally known.

Who, or what has been your greatest fashion influence?

Initially one of the biggest fashion influences for me is one of the co-owners of Room 322, Nathan Tyndale. From day one he had a keen appetite to rock the latest brands; He is also, one of the select few when it comes to owning  unique pieces of clothing but, gradually, brand designers became a great deal of inspiration for me.  Learning about how each designer incorporate their lifestyles into a brand and the way they infuse their perspective of fashion into the brand draws people, including myself, to be drawn into the culture behind fashion.

Fashion tip for the season?

Men’s accessories should be made an “all guy’s new best friend”.  Beaded bracelets, leather bands, causal skinny ties, pocket squares, bow ties, clean watches, should all be make their way into your closet for 2010. Lastly, clean and fitted is the way to go. It has been this way for a while, but in case your still behind, wearing fitted tops and apparel is the way to go.  Big and baggy just looks old.

What would you say has been a fashion crime of the season?

I have to laugh there has been, so many fashion crimes in 2009 especially in my city, but the latest one is the shemagh scarf.  Recently it has finally died out, but at one point everyone, including their baby, was rocking one. Every time I see one, I just get upset because too many people have been wearing them.

What is your best attribute?

One of my best attributes is my perseverance of doing things the best I can and after. improving on them. Once, when I am finished a project, I always think of ways how I can make the next one better, or, how to convey a message more effectively. This gives me motivation to always outdo myself and constantly grow.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Rather then advice, one of the best quotes/quotes I have ever read are:

1. “Get use to getting Used”~ j.Sakiya

2. “Quality or flaw… I love Djing, and I will continue to follow my passion”~ DjO Nonymous~.

People always associate getting “used” in a negative aspect, but if no one want to use you then you’re basically useless. The second quote is more inspirational that keep me focus and on track.

Excluding yours, what company or brand do you admire the most?

One of the most aspiring brands I have come across lately is Brooklyn Circus. It a clothing store based in Brooklyn that features a “in house” brand called BKC, which is a clean streetwear that has a strong history and foundation. I admire the founder Ouigi Q. Theodore (aka The Bearded Man) because of the passion and dedication he has in fashion. A lot of his pieces you will see the great attention to detail he puts in.  Details makes BKC stand out from the average person.

Favorite lyrics from a song?

I know it’s easy to imagine, but it’s easier to just do,
See if you can’t do what you imagine,
Then what is imagination to you?

~KiD CuDi

Word you live by?

Creativity… the simple textbook definition is someone who is artistic, or imaginative, but creativity in practice has a much deeper meaning. Having the courage to follow your passion, or idea, even when everyone around you is against it is an extreme challenge to overcome. Whenever you try to do something very creative and original you will have an uphill battle. So, everyone who is truly creative I respect you for what you do and encourage you to aspire to it.

Take a Trip Inside Room 322

Inside the store @ Room 322