The Business of Business series is a look at an emerging intrepid group of women. We [Forgotten Magic] have approached 8 women (2 women every month) working in divergent industries from around the world. These women are creating a space for themselves in their respective industries to strive, grow & glow. They are ardent beacons in the fight for women empowerment & equality.
We began in Johannesburg, South Africa, with an incredible woman who has worked hard to get to where she is.
“I always wanted to work in fashion.
Never imagined I’d be working with
Pan-African designers. “
Allana is originally from the United States of America but has immersed herself in the African Fashion Industry beyond her imagination. She described the objective of her business as helping African designers grow their brands through strategic product placement and commercially beneficial activation. We interviewed Allana to get an insight into business, aspirations, and women.
What do you think the phrase ‘The Business of Business’ means?
I think the phrase “The Business of Business” means doing what is vital when it comes to doing what is necessary to grow one’s business. It encompasses leadership, ethics, commitment and delivering impactful outcomes.
What is the reason, aim or goal behind your business?
AFARA Group is a specialty apparel and accessories sourcing/placement agency that bridges African fashion, design and creative industries to global markets. AFARA Group facilitates access to innovative funding and provides business development expertise to ensure success for designers to take their brand to the next level.
What motivated you to go into this particular industry?
My first job as a teenager was in retail. I loved the way it felt to help people feel better about themselves via what they wore. I also love the whole process of taking an idea, design, fabric to a final product and watching consumer uptake of that product.
Who is your biggest inspiration and help in getting you to where you are?
My biggest inspiration has always and will always be my mom. She raised me as a single parent. She just recently retired from working at a company for over 40 years. She is the epitome of commitment and perseverance.
what is your biggest struggle in the industry?
My biggest struggle is finding investors who believe that investing in creatives is commercially viable. This is why I went back to school at 45 to get my MBA…I wanted to be empowered to speak from a place of power and business know-how about an industry that is often seen as frivolous.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
Isn’t that just the one thing that all human beings strive for…work-life balance. I achieve it by setting clear boundaries around my time for working and my time for being with friends and family. For example, I am lucky enough to work in a company that allows me flexi-time so that I can beat my children’s school events and is present in the evenings. Once they’ve gone to bed I will work till late at night or wake up early in the am to do my MBA work or work on special projects. Its all about time management!
What is social media/technology’s role in your business?
Technology is vital to my business as it is the gateway to reaching global consumers. Social media is also key to getting consumer buy-in. Consumers what to align with brands and businesses that show the same core values as them.
What is your perception or definition of fame?
Ha, fame is all in one’s head and it is based on other people’s perception which is not my operating system.
What is your perception or definition of success?
Success to me is waking up every day doing what you love and living one’s best life.
What have you learned about entrepreneurship, leadership and the 21st century as a progressive female?
I have learned that there are plenty of events that bring women together but the power lies in maintaining those networks. Business deals and mentorship opportunities only thrive through consistent engagement.
“Women are the soul and heartbeat of the fashion industry”
Are there any collaborations or events that occur in your industry to unite women?
I see many events that are focused on women in business and entrepreneurship.
What advice can you give to young women looking to go into your industry or business in general?
My best advice is to get as much experience as you can. Plan for where you would like to see yourself in the future, who you would like to work with, what companies you want to work for an intern for them. Take the unpaid internship and get as much experience as you can. The best thing I ever did was work unpaid during college breaks for designers like Donna Karan and assist leading stylists. One can’t pay for the experience earned and the work ethic that you will develop by working hard to earn your stripes and build a solid reputation.
What are your greatest achievements?
My sons are my greatest achievement. Every day I hustle hard to be sure I can provide the best future for them to go out and be the best they can be.
Who is your industry role model & why?
I have many industry role models…they come from various facets of the business. Robert Brozin the founder of Nandos when it comes to globally franchising a strong ethical South African brand, Samuel Mensah the founder of KISUA.com when it comes to the sacrifice it takes to build a global fashion business, Dr. Judy Dlamini as an inspirational example of work-life balance and Fred Swaniker as the shining example of entrepreneurship and hardcore commitment to developing future African leaders.
Where to from here? What can we expect from you & your business?
I am aiming to tackle the global problem of textile waste that is plaguing the African continent by providing an innovative African solution to a global problem that will in turn pump export revenue back into the continent’s textile industry.
Words you live by?
“What you fear will find you, so live life fearlessly every day.”