In The Spotlight: Abigail Lordson-Banini

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Today, we have designer Abigail Lordson-Banini! Abigail spent the first 15 years of her life in Accra, Ghana, where she watched her grandmother sew her own clothes. “I remember, when I was 11, my mom got me my very first sewing machine,” she reminisced. “Funny enough, I was only allowed to use it once.” The designer moved to the United States in February 2009, and began sketching female figures in gowns after taking an art class in high school (one of the sketches eventually became her prom dress!). Though she enjoyed sketching, at that point in time, she was determined to pursue accounting as a career. However, she soon grew frustrated with her accounting classes as well as a bad relationship, and began creating necklace and earring sets for herself and friends as a stress reliever. “The guy I was dating back then said to me, ‘Why are you pursuing accounting when you can pursue a career in fashion?’”Abigail said. “I did not take it seriously until people started asking me where I got my earrings from.”

Abigail’s African culture and the fact that she is a pastor’s daughter definitely had an impact on her creations. “Being a pastor’s kid, you are expected to dress modestly and that was how it has always been,” she stated. “I remember back then my school uniform length was below my knee while other girls in my school had theirs above their knee.” Her dad, however, often got African fabric, which he gave to a close friend to create matching outfits for him and Abigail. “I grew up loving the African print fabrics,” she said. “Modesty and African print fabric is something that I make sure is part of every design I make.” Abigail is also inspired by various designers: Safoa Amoako-Gyimah of Sa4A, Selina Beb, Christie Brown, and Nick Verreos.

Abigail began her own fashion company, House of Afi in February 2014, and officially registered the business in the state of Maryland in September that same year. “In my culture, Afi is a name given to a female born on Friday,” she said of the name. She began the company, which offers bags, jewelry, peplum belts, bowties, skirts and more, in the hopes of helping young women have self-confidence. “We young ladies do not need validation from others in order to know that we are beautiful and great just as we are,” Abigail proclaimed. Though she definitely stands for the ladies, the designer offers accessories for men as well. Besides the ladies, I have some accessories for the men as well. Abigail plans to expand the business within the next few years to create dresses, shirts, gowns, and eventually shoes! In addition to running House of Afi, she is also a senior at Loyola University Maryland (my alma mater!), which is a struggle but Abigail manages. “This semester, I planned to not have class on Fridays which then allows me be to a student from Sunday night to Thursday night,” she said. “After my last class on Thursday to about 3am on Sunday including holidays and breaks is when I am working on my business.” Obviously difficult to
balance school and a business, but Abigail makes it happen!

In terms of what sets her apart from other designers, Abigail said it’s the unique fabric of the designs and “Also, when it comes to packaging what makes me different is the message (words of encouragement) I add to the product,” she acknowledged. “We all go through difficult situations in life and we need words of encouragement to keep going. I believe this message could/will save a life.” In the future, Abigail hopes that House of Afi is an international brand well-known for its uniqueness. She is working toward expanding the products offered, and in the next 5-10 years wants to have stores in the United States, Canada, Ghana, and other various spots around the world! “A big goal for my brand is [also] to help women who are going through domestic violence or going through the effects of domestic violence,” Abigail said. “I want to help them gain back their confidence.”

You can order from House of Afi on the brand’s official website. You can also keep up with the brand on Facebook!

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