Afr is a result of my personal experience as an African here in the US. Having lived here now for 14 years, it came bout from my experiences in both high school and college. And with that came about these few rules:
Act! (on it)
I started it last year and then it was under the name Songhai. I had a concept and was formulating it as I went along. I learned that about life, most ideas don’t reach their complete form until the thinker acts on them. Then like a rough stone, the waters of life, time and experience gained begin to erode its edges turning it into a smooth oval like pebble. Songhai then became AFR, then AFR lives (African renaissance lives!).
Carry on! (keep calm too)
Afr is not my first attempt. Several other concepts and ideas were started, left incomplete, completed, not produced, sampled, produced, sold, did not sell…
Life is a continuous process and achievements, just like in video games (yes, video games) do not happen in an instant; they take time and constant effort. It’s incremental. The longer it takes for you to reach it, the more you’ll cherish it, the more experience you’ve gained reaching it and the more likely you are of keeping it.
This one holds true for designs too. I’ve designed plenty of shirts, logos, etc. that didn’t make the first cut. That’s just life. However I’m learning now that revising a design every once in a while can really bring it to life. Again, incremental change.
Trust! (your instincts)
Your gut never lies. I have made it a cardinal rule to always trust my gut feeling and it has always steered me right. Even if a design is excellent and I don’t feel it fits, I’ll keep it in storage or even sell it to some other brand it does fit. There is no point in forcing something that won’t work. It’ll cause you more harm than good.
And finally…Do what feels right!
My brand came about from my experience coming here at a young age (13) from Cote D’Ivoire and having this dual personality. Also having a hard time fitting in or just knowing where I belonged in this new country. So I designed clothes I felt I would have loved to wear when I was in high school, when everything was so foreign. Something to let the “cool” of Africa, out. Something to be proud of and to be desired so that the new foreign kid doesn’t go by another less complicated name instead of his Beautifully complex and deeply profound African name.
Something to make people say, “Man, I wish I was African;” and then I would say “but you are”.
You can purchase your own AFR tee at my etsy shop:
Mohamed Diomande, founder of AFRlives