SUSTAINABLE: A conversation with the designers of EnnYe Collection

EnnyEthnic LLC is a company built from creativity and passion and the main goal is to provide unique, stylish, and hard-to-forget pieces for, and inspired by, every woman. From the ethnic-centric type, to the urban-chic, modern-classic, vintage-chic, trendy or a combination, they cater to you.  They strongly believe that style is universal, that all women shine and connect in fashion, and that there is a little of every style in each of us. That is why you will find a touch of every style in each of their pieces. They make a statement with all their pieces, no words necessary.  Most of the pieces are collectibles produced only once. So, we had a conversation with the designers about how creativity and passion breeds style and personality through ENNYE Collection. 

TPM: When did you first realize you wanted to become fashion designers?  

We discovered through this accidental career in fashion that we loved the creative process involved in the creation of unique fashionable pieces. From picking the prints at the African market, to the design and manufacturing process. We are Zimbabweans by origin, based in the US. Whenever we go home to Zimbabwe, we have dresses made in African prints. Back in the US the questions became so common, as to where we got our clothes from and if we could make clothes for other people, that we decided to start our own line of clothing, based on African prints. We discovered that we actually had good eye for great prints.

TPM: When did you land your first internship and what was the most valuable thing you learned from this experience?
We are not fashion school graduates at all, but we have a tremendous amount of respect for the talent that is produced by fashion schools. Our designing careers were borne out of our passion for African print, and prints in general. If were to talk about what we learned in internships we landed while in college, it would be to have thick skin, to get up when you fall a thousand times and try again and that opportunities do not necessarily fall into your lap, one has to create them and or go out there and pursue them.
TPM: What was your first job out of college, and how did you land that position? 
 
As sisters we have different careers, we are lawyers and nurses, so our first jobs were through our respective universities we graduated from. There were companies that were affiliated with our respective universities and also they looked at our academic performances in college. Its a very competitive job market here in the US, and we had to have a solid academic history in order to land jobs.
 
TPM: Define sustainable concept nowadays in fashion industry in five words .
 
Ecofriendly, Reusable, Nontoxic, Energy – efficiency and Renewable resources. 
TPM: If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?
Consistency and great marketing are the key to success in this industry, thats what we would tell our younger selves. We were naive when we entered the fashion industry and thought that all we needed was to make a dress and people would buy and or fall in love with our pieces without the proper marketing strategies. Marketing is vital to any business, and if we had known that particular aspect early on, we would have grown exponentially as a brand.
 
TPM: What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out? 
We tried to make a lot of different designs without settling on a particular brand creation, that defined us, so our brand seemed to be haphazard in our early approach. We wanted to make so many different designs at once because of the excitement of a new venture. We managed to realize our mistake early on and regrouped, went back to drawing board and created our mission what we stood for and settled on a few designs that actually became successful. We also did not have a good marketing budget laid out, or a plan on how we were to market our products. We realized that marketing was an integral part of any business to be successful.
TPM: What is one thing you look at the models for your campaigns?
Confidence!! Our prints are Very bold, and a model needs to carry herself with confidence when wearing one of our pieces. It is imperative that this be the number quality of any model we look at. With confidence comes poise, preparedness and a successful representation of the brand.
TPM:  What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
Social Media is vital to the fashion industry today because everyone has access to it all over the world for free in all if not most cases. It is a very effective marketing tool for anyone in the fashion industry to utilize, from the already established brands to the new and up and coming brands. In most cases social media drives the trends in fashion for any given season, so any brand worth their salt would be wise to utilize the social media platform. With social media comes exposure of your brand to everyone all over the world within mere seconds of posting a picture. This platform was not available just a few years ago.
 
TPM: What is your favorite and NON-favorite part about being part of the fashion industry? 
Our favorite part of the industry would be the feeling you get when your creations are on the runway and the fit on the models is perfect and the audience has their attention on your designs and they LOVE them. That is the icing on the cake as it were for any designer. The least favorite part of the industry is when a certain print you thought would be a hit is not, or a certain design gets lukewarm reviews, its disappointing but at the same time it makes you try harder for the next collection.
10:How do you want people to feel when wearing your clothes?
We want our customers to feel sexy and confident, to feel good in the way they look in our clothes, and also LOVE the way they look. You feel good when you look good, very simple.
TPM: Can you tell us how your brand makes a difference in fashion industry?
 
We create one of a kind pieces, from a limited range of carefully selected prints. Our creations are driven by the print we choose, then we make a limited amount of pieces from a particular print and then we retire that print, and never use it again. That way we have created an exclusivity that people actually appreciate in knowing that it would be highly unlikely to see another person wearing the same outfit.
TPM: News on the way regarding your next collection? 
 
A new collection featuring resort wear, and also introducing new pieces to compliment the pieces we already have. We are constantly on the hunt for new and stunning designs for our customers and fans, and in the process hope to get more customers and a bigger fanbase.
 
TPM: What do you think is the biggest challenge for a fashion designer? 
 
Staying relevant in the industry. People have short memories and you are only as good as your last collection, you have to stay in the collective narrative of fashion, and constantly find your voice in your niche market and make sure that you are heard and seen. What we discovered too is that once a customer loves your designs they will keep coming back, so making a quality product and good designs makes for a great marriage of the two.
TPM: There is one important person, in your life, who pushes and motivates you to believe in yourself? 
 
Our parents have always been the ones who have pushed us to be the best version of ourselves at all times, who believed in us from the beginning and no matter the failures they always insisted we dust ourselves off and try again. Having a solid family background and support system makes us unafraid to wade into new adventures involving fashion and venture outside our comfort zone.
TPM: How do you think a big brand should motivate their collaborators and team members?
 
By making the team members and collaborators feel heard and valuable, you can always learn from everyone, regardless of their station in life and big brands need to keep in mind that some of the best and innovative ideas come from the most unlikely places. Giving their collaborators and team members the freedom to be innovative and providing a platform for free thinking will foster new ideas and help grow a brand.
 
 TPM: How do you think sustainable can play an important role in fashion industry?
Ecological sustainability is the future of fashion, with the intention of reducing the carbon footprint of all of us by requiring everyone to use renewable resources, which in turn will minimize the impact on the environment and force people to respect the natural environment.
TPM: Describe us you as a designer and how your feelings influence the creativity process?  
 
As we are sisters who own this business, we have different tastes in styles and print. We know this about ourselves and so we let each pick a print and or style they are passionate about and create their design as a prototype. Then we all weigh in with our thoughts as to how that particular design would fare to our customers. If one of us feels strongly about a particular piece then it goes into production.
TPM: Would you like to involve other accessories designers in your future projects?
Certainly!! We have always loved accessories that compliment our designs and would very much love to collaborate with accessory designers at any time. We welcome all collaborations as this increases the exposure of both us and our collaborators.
TPM: What do you think is the main mission of the CO-BRANDING concept ? 
 
This concept employs the strategic marketing and advertising partnerships between two brands therein ensuring that the success of one brand brings the success to its partner brand too. Its an effective way to boost awareness of both brands and also allow them to break into new markets and attract more customers thus expanding their customer base.
 
TPM: How fashion PR agencies can help more the brands and what skills a good fashion PR should have in your opinion? 
They should be inclusive in their customer base, including small businesses as well as the big brands. Small brands such as ourselves that are trying to break into the fashion market are intimidated by the budget the PR agencies are asking for and also the fee margin is very high. If they could come up with a sliding scale that allows for us small brands who are up and coming to be able to afford their fees, then it would benefit both us and the agencies. We always want the agency to put us first if we are their customer and fight for us in the boardrooms of the big department stores or boutiques so our creations are showcased there.
TPM: What designers inspire you and why?
Alexander Wang comes to mind immediately. His designs are ethereal, and very well cut, he truly understands the human form and creates very sexy but minimalistic pieces. His collaboration with Uniqlo made him an even bigger star in the designing world and more accessible to everyone as a designer.
 TPM: There is anyone special who would like to meet in person?
 
Alexander Wang in fashion, Michelle Obama in the intellectual world, Nelson Mandela in activism, Vincent Cassel and Rolf Larsgard in Cinema, and Ennya the musician because her music is breathtaking and we truly believe she has tea with God every morning!!
TPM: What do you think about the opportunity of selling your collections online nowadays?
 
The opportunities of online sales are really difficult to predict, because people are still wary of buying something online without actually physically touching the item and trying it on. The plus side of having an online store is that you do not have to have a brick and mortar store which comes with its own challenges such as location, rent, employees and all other ancillary over head costs.

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