Meghan Sebold is the designer of Afia, an ethical, sustainable brand that mixes cultures and combines vastly different worlds, respectfully. Sebold considers herself to “belong everywhere and nowhere,” and her brand reflects that with fabrics picked directly from the markets of Ghana, assembled in LA, and sent out to customers across the world.
But Afia isn’t just about exotic fabrics—Sebold also strives to create garments which make women feel strong. "I do want them to feel beautiful, but not in a 'Hi I'm pretty and sexy, validate me as such' kind of way, more in a 'What's up, I'm here' kind of way," she says. "A little defiant, a little wild. Style is a way to own your power and space."
Fusion designer, Meghan Sebold talks to Fashion Business Africa on how schooling in Ghana influenced her love for the textile industry and the role all that played in establishing Afia a fashion line that connects Ghana with the global marketplace.
The thing that I find to be the most important and also the most challenging from a marketing perspective is that you get in this niche of fair trade sustainable fashion or African Fashion. It is a tricky story to tell because to me a lot of the fair-trade jargon is perpetuating this patriarchy that already exists and a perception of “helping” Africa that is the opposite of empowerment. It’s a very nice and easily digestible story to say, “here we are, hiring these women in rural towns and we’re paying them well, everybody smile” but its a much larger conversation than that, one of mutual cultural respect and having hard conversations, awkward moments, and functioning through daily activities together. I’m not sure I have figured out a way of putting that across without brief jargon that perpetuates the stereotypes…so then I just don’t tell the fair trade story. What’s important to me is getting buyers to think about who made these clothes and connect to that place and the humanity of it. Fast fashion and the general pace of global manufacturing has dehumanized the production process.
Meghan Sebold is a fashion and product designer, musician, and seasoned world traveler who we recently collaborated with to create our Otis & Eleanor Bongo Speakers for Poketo.
Tell us a little about your background.
I was born in Oakland, California in a naval hospital. When I was 3 days old my Mom and I took a red-eye flight and that set the tone for my life of perpetual motion. I was so overdue that my Dad had to report back to duty in Japan or somewhere, so we didn’t meet until I was 2 months old. I grew up with older identical twin brothers in suburban Minnesota with woods around the house, a tire swing, an apple tree, 3 lilac bushes, and a two-story octagon shaped tree fort that my Dad built. My parents didn’t let my brothers and I watch TV or play video games and I credit them for my overactive imagination.
Sunshine by Design: Designer, stylist, boho goddess extraordinaire Meghan Sebold finds her way in LA
Despite growing up in Minnesota and living in New York for five years, I never developed a tolerance for winter. It’s cute for the holidays and a good novel by the fireplace moment, but I prefer not to operate in it. The primary motive for moving to LA was to be comfortable outdoors as often as possible. I’ve only been there a few months, but here are a few of my favorites so far.
Pictured in our Spring '15 Cami Dress in her styling, Meghan inspires us to follow her footsteps in her "awareness and fascination of all things."
WHERE DO YOU DRAW CREATIVE INSPIRATION FROM?
Motion and exploration. I walk, bike, run, drive, fly. I'm an admitted dopamine addict- I need to be wowed and engaged. That doesn't mean having a need for an elaborate fireworks display at all times- it means admiring the label on a bottle, noticing how light is hitting a wall, catching the song playing in the background.