As you may know, A.M. Club has partnered with the CFSC on a few designs to create high quality silk scarves while also supporting artists and nonprofits we are passionate about. Today our MAJOR Monday Muse is the founder of CFSC - Katya Akuma. Read on below to see what inspires Katya and how she started making a positive difference in the world through fashion.
Thank you for being so inspirational Katya!
Tell us about how you started the Council Of Social & Fashion Change… What inspired you to start?
It all started in the end of my Masters studies at Parsons The New School for Design in NYC.
I was very fortunate to be a recipient of the Parsons Design Fellowship launched by Donna Karan’s Urban Zen and went to Haiti for the first time.
In Haiti I worked closely with Haitian artisans to design and develop a Naturally Haiti collection for the Urban Zen collection using locally-sourced materials and following the traditional artistic practices of the community.
Working in Haiti was a life changing experience and I thought that any emerging designer should have a possibility to work on meaningful projects. My personal experience led to establishing of Council for Fashion and Social Change (CFSC). One of the major aims for CFSC is to support newly graduating design students by creating meaningful opportunities for them to team up with established fashion companies and work on the projects that help others.
What have been some of your favorite projects and why?
One of my favorite projects was to work with BK Style Foundation and anti-trafficking
organization Beauty for Freedom on creating the Denim Day NYC Campaign raising awareness for the survivors of sexual and domestic violence. I had an opportunity to develop collaborative designs with extremely talented students from City-As School. I am a big collaborator. That is what makes it interesting to me: pulling talented and passionate people on board while fully respecting their creative vision. Discovering talents and designing with them – That is so inspiring to me.
Any movies, books, places or people that have inspired you?
Yves Saint Laurent, Donna Karan, Charles James, Alexander Mc Queen, Geoffrey Beene, those are the designers that have heavily influenced my work throughout my career.
Recently I have been inspired by the simplicity and elegance of Paul Poiret’s robes. Poiret was a groundbreaking 1920’s designer. His designs contain minimal elements with a lot of volume and large shapes.
I am usually inspired by places. Moving to New York seems like the best decision I have ever made. Being raised in Prague it wasn’t about fashion. New York, above all, is a fashion hub; and for me it’s been an incredible place to push myself. It is such a diverse city, that offers inspiration and creative drive in every corner of the street. In New York, I met people like Donna Karan and Valentino, who were early influencers for me.
What other passions do you have?
I have known from a very young age that I wanted to be a fashion designer, but my other passion is for fine art. I am also a painter and I am fascinated by the possibility of art. The humor of it and the endless opportunities for the interpretation. The journey of an artist is a journey of discovery.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received from a mentor or colleague?
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
Listen to your inner voice.
Be very focused and work very hard, but it is not about working hard without knowing what your aim is.
What’s the first thing you do every morning?
The perfect cup of coffee, from Kenyan beans roasted in my kitchen and walk with my dog. He is my endless source of happiness and positive energy.
Dream or next travel destination? Previous favorite?
Japan - is endlessly, endlessly interesting to me.
Top 3 favorite artists or musicians?
Amaka Osakwe – She is a Nigerian fashion designer and creator of the African based fashion label named Maki Oh. Lagos-based Amaka Osakwe uses local textiles and create her thoughtful, sensual Maki Oh range of womenswear and is becoming a rising star.
Zainab Ashadu – She is a founder and fashion designer of the label named Zashadu. Zashadu is a leading British/Nigerian sustainable luxury brand, that specializes in hand-crafted leather pieces.
Farhad Moshiri – He creates artworks that fall somewhere in between Iranian tradition and the globalized consumerism. His work is influenced by Pop Art, conceptual art, comics, advertising, classic portraiture, and religious iconography.