A Strong Woman in the Business of Fashion

A Strong Woman in the Business of Fashion


By Jendaya

We had the pleasure of interviewing one of Africa’s premiere and most established luxury designers, known globally for her artisanal designs – be sure to check out her incredible latest collection.

Having been featured in the likes of Elle, Vogue & Harper’s Bazaar and worn by the likes of Tiwa Savage and Lucy Liu she is hard to miss. You may already be familiar with her, but if (by some unfortunate chance) you aren’t – not to worry, we have you covered below. Get to know Lisa Folawiyo:

If you could describe the Lisa Folawiyo wearing woman in three words, what would they be?

“She’s confident, exudes youthful exuberance and has an authentic style.”

What is a typical day in the life of the Lisa (the designer) Folawiyo?

“I’m up at 4am most days to pray.. By 6am, I try to get another couple of hours of sleep and am usually up again at 8/8:30am. Most weekdays, I work out for 45mins/ 1 hr…I’m showered and ready to head to the studio by 11am. 

– I have no defined pattern of work.. But it goes along these lines most days:

– Quick prayer with staff when I get in.

– Chat with team members from where we left of the day before. 

– Mini strategy meetings on various things we may be working on or goals we’ve set. 

– Check out all that’s currently being worked on re tailoring, beading etc

– Get briefings on client order lists and sales.

– Attend to scheduled appointments. I have at least one on most days. Varying from private consultations, scheduled press interviews, conference calls, meetings with suppliers, collaborators etc

– Visit with one of my workshops at a different location.

– My assistant creative designer and I must make time to flesh out new ideas, or revisit old ones, check out new calicos and patterns being worked on. We are always working on the next collection!

– Lunch on some days; usually a salad.

– Compulsory gisting session…We must always have our daily dose of idle chitchat and laughter! Otherwise we may go insane!-I usually leave the studio at 6pm or thereabout,  unless  I am physically working on a new collection, and then, it’s whatever time I’ve achieved what I need to achieve!” 

What are your biggest design inspiration(s)?

“I am very inspired by the Nigerian culture. It’s customs, traditions and colourful history. Our traditional attires have served as inspo for a few of my collections. Memories from my childhood every now and then, have lent themselves as inspiration.. 

In addition to these, my mood, mindset, personal beliefs and convictions (spiritual, socio-political etc) at certain points in time have inspired collections. I am very inspired by prints or and/or particular textiles, new design techniques, and/or interesting forms of embellishment and craftsmanship.”

What would you say have been the biggest hurdles or business lessons you’ve learnt on getting to this point, as a globally recognised luxury womenswear designer?

“Flesh out all ideas! Never belittle, hide or dismiss your own ideas. Every idea, authentic to you and fresh, is worth exploring, pushing and promoting, whether you think little of it at the time you conceive it. I must confess, if I have had any regrets, they’ve been as a result of me playing down or choosing to not go further with an idea. At the end of the day, what’s the worst that can happen? You realise it wasn’t the best idea then. But what if it was or is?”

LFDW has just passed, over the years has the preparation for it gotten easier in any way?

“The preparation for showing any new collection never gets easy. It shouldn’t be easy. But I will say, I am so blessed to work with such a formidable team who have made the process that bit easier and a more relaxed process, albeit ever so slight (and with a dash of humour and fun)”

What has been your proudest moment so far?

“Always so proud to see people choose to wear the brand”

Who has/have been your favourite client(s) to wear your creations?


What is next for the brand?

“Focus on growth. Collaborations. Innovative marketing & retailing to achieve a wider and a more accessible global reach. And of course, our next collections”

Is there any advice you’d give to the new crop of African designers coming up in the industry right now?

“Be passionate about your craft. This will be your saving grace when the difficult times come. And they will.  

~Have a strong, fresh and authentic point of view. 

~Do your research, do the work. 

~Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to seek help, to be vulnerable. You can’t know everything, you can’t be everything. Build a solid team/ support system. 

~Be kind, be humble, be sincere.~Support other designers and creatives. Remember this. It is beyond you. You are part of the birthing and solidifying of an industry . You are part of a cultural movement that defines our time. Together you are stronger. A house divided will never stand”

Which African designers are on your ‘One’s to Watch’ list?

“I really like Abiola Olusola! She’s definitely one to watch. There’s also something quite convincing about Mazelle.Studio. Another to watch!”


#BTS – Lisa wears a Lisa Folawiyo pleated coat dress and Bottega Veneta pumps

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