We recently featured Impala clothing as one of the new African- inspired fashion brands to look out for.
The GlowingColours team was very impressed and inspired by the creative director of Impala Clothing, Yaw Acquah, a UK citizen of Ghanaian origin, who thought out the clothing line that offers the very best of authentic African-inspired fashion with Western influence. We had to reach out to him to know more about his story, being a young entrepreneur and how he came up with the idea of this brand.
Read our interview with the inspirational founder Yaw Acquah of the UK-based clothing line Impala.
Tell us 5 things people don’t know about you!
- I’m a registered Physiotherapist in the UK
- I nearly became a documentary maker, when I was offered a a place on a filmmaking apprenticeship in 2009.
- I mourn the premature end of Craig David‘s career, and listen to “Born to do it” most days.
- I have a food aversion to bananas. The mere thought of them creeps me out.
- This is not my first fashion venture, aged 13 I made a load of designs, for what was then known as Jungle clothing. I think I got distracted by playing rugby and forgot about it.
When did you first know you wanted to become a fashion designer?
I don’t know even know that I would describe myself as a fashion designer. Certainly this first collection has a lot of my input creatively, but worked in conduction with print designers to come up with a lot of the designs, so I guess you could say my role is curatorial. I’ve certainly always quietly sought to have a creative outlet, and IMPALA is a fantastic way for me to pursue that, I just probably see myself as more of a creative business man, than a fashion designer per se.
You didn’t let your difficulties pull you down but were you ever tempted to quit your dreams?
As a start-up business I don’t think a day goes by without, some difficulty some moment which make you momentarily yearn for the simplicity of the 9-5. But that moment quickly passes.
I think the life of an entrepreneur is for a certain mind-set, someone who likes to beat to their own drum. And for me the satisfaction and the drive i get from being the captain of my own ship, although challenging, certainly beats the underlying disquiet and unease I had as a ‘company man.’
Launching a new label in a crowded market is not an easy task. What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far?
The biggest challenge has been and continues to be PR. As you’ve said today’s market place is very crowded, and we all live in a society whereby we are bombard with information at an alarming rate. This of course means in order to stand out and resonate with people, you have to work extra hard in order to break through. So at the moment I’m battling away trying to promote the brand online. I’m hoping to begin to be more of a real world presence by organising pop up shops and live events.
What made you decide to focus on “affordable” fashion?
The decision to focus on ‘affordable’ fashion is linked to the brand’s core values. IMPALA is all about promoting and celebrating the virtues of African culture. I want to create a platform for as people to engage with African culture, outside of the usual ‘poverty porn’ paradigm. Therefore it’s essential, that if I am a to reach as many people as possible with my message, that IMPALA’s products remain within a high street price range, obviously whilst retaining high standards of manufacturing.
Your brand is growing so quickly and that’s amazing! When did you have your first “pinch me” moment?
Every day is a pinch me moment. I certainly feel very blessed to be able to be putting my time and effort into something of my own making. And thankful to those who support the brand either through, buying our products or dedicating time and effort to help us grow.
What does your typical workday at Impala Clothing look like? If such a thing exists…
Haha there is certainly no such things as a typical day with any startup business. Particularly being a one man band. I always try to start the day off with some meditation and exercise, to attenuate the mind. Then I make my way through my to-do-list which I draw up the night before. Usually things come up, but if I can make it through the 2-3 ‘Mission critical’ tasks I identify then it’s a good day. around 3pm I check for and process any orders. Then eat-sleep-repeat.
How to you unwind after a tough day at work?
Either meditation or watching some Parks and recreation. I also like to go out with my friends in London and Birmingham, when time/money allows. The truth is I’m having to be pretty boring growing IMPALA at the moment.
Who or what inspired you to begin your journey as a fashion designer/business owner?
So I was fairly recently diagnosed with Adult ADHD, which for me at least accounts for a lot of the reasons, I feel I have a hard time ‘fitting-in’ or being ‘normal’, particularly in work or academic settings.
‘ADHD: The Entrepreneur’s Superpower’ I had the very eerie sense one gets, when reading their life documented. I followed this up by watching a profile on David Neelman, the founder of Jet Blue airlines, who also has ADHD. Listening to him speak, was like talking to someone who had peered into my mind. I felt well if he can do it I can. I usually have a 1001 ideas floating around in my life, and just so happened to be in a position in my life where I could see it through.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?
‘Focus on being productive, rather than being busy’
Tim Ferris, The 4-hour work week.
Where do you see Impala Clothing in the next 5 years?
In 5 years IMPALA, will be a global online presence, a fully diversified lifestyle brand promoting the virtues of African culture, through fashion, food and Media. Short, sweet and ambitions answer for you there.
As you know The GlowingColours.com loves African change makers who make impact in the society, what advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs hoping to start their own label one day?
Don’t be beholden to fear. If you have even the slightest, kernel of an idea and the inclination and the know how to achieve it, you should pursue it. We are very fortunate to live in a realm, whereby one can take their wildest thoughts and machinations and turn that into reality. It’s perhaps one of the biggest failing of the education system that most people are discouraged, or dis-empowered from doing just that.
Thank you Yaw for your time with us! We are looking forward to showcasing many more African talents on this platform.
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