The Collective Africa explained
The Collective Africa is an ethical fashion label that has been crafted by a love of bold fashion and from a heart that desires women to be free from oppression, abuse and sexual exploitation. All garments are uniquely crafted in Pemba Mozambique from locally sourced African wax prints, or 'Capulanas' as we call them here in Mozambique. The Collective brand stands for freedom, boldness and fun. Collectively celebrating femininity, they believe you have been Fashioned For Freedom!
Proceeds from each one of their garments are donated to The Liberty Project Africa. The Liberty Project is an organisation pioneering in Pemba with a vision to bring freedom, transformation and bright hope filled futures to young girls and women in Northern Mozambique who have come from backgrounds of abuse, oppression and sexual exploitation.
The lady behind it all
Laura Monahan is the founder and CEO of The Collective Africa as well as The Liberty Project Africa, which The Collective Africa donates to with the proceeds of each garment sold.
Laura has a background in commercial radio broadcasting and account management within The New Zealand Radio Network (NZME) and MediaWorks; as well as marketing, communications and event management experience in both commercial, non profit settings.
Laura lives in Pemba Northern Mozambique where she heads up The Collective Africa designing a fusion of afro chic and contemporary European clothing as well as being the founder and CEO of The Liberty Project also located in Pemba Mozambique. This project has been established to bring freedom, transformation and bright hope filled futures to women and young girls from backgrounds of abuse, oppression and sexual exploitation. www.the-libertyproject.org
Exclusive Interview with Laura Monahan:
What inspired you to start the Collective Africa?
The Collective Africa came about very organically September last year when teaching locals how to sew European designs blossomed into an opportunity to create beautiful garments with the vision sell to westerners in a less touristic market. I saw an opportunity create something unique and create a brand that would show women here that they can dream big, above and beyond what they have been told they can achieve. I then stepped out to begin designing garments that are on pa with global trends, with a unique touch to ensure that this brand can be desirable to the fashion conscious, socially conscious discerning buyer. Since then The Collective Africa has flourished into something that I am so proud to be part of. This will be a vehicle of developing dreams for local women and a way to impact other women globally by simply purchasing a garment and 'putting on boldness' (walking boldly in color and having fun - we believe every woman has been fashioned for freedom) as they wear one of our items. I believe women have been fashioned for freedom, and this is our brand motto! Proceeds from every garment sold are donated to The Liberty Project, an organisation I have founded in Pemba Mozambique which aims to bring freedom, transformation and bright hope filled futures to teenage girls and women who have come from backgrounds of abuse, oppression and sexual exploitation here in Northern Mozambique.
(Part of The Liberty Project's vision is to vocationally train women in sewing and clothing design as well as other areas, and The Collective Africa will provide employment at the end of this program for women who have a passion in this area.)
How did you discover need for this type of product in the marketplace? I have always followed trends and had an eye for different pieces, after experimenting here in Africa myself I noticed that I started getting comments from all over the world on the clothes I was wearing, photographing etc. and people began asking if I could make garments for them. Afro Chic / European Contemporary style is something new for most Kiwi’s and Europeans… fashion conscious people are always on the look out for something new and bold and this fits that well!
What is been the most difficult aspect of getting your brand of the ground and how did you overcome that?
Probably starting with zero money in the bank. This has literally grown from one garment made, one garment sold, then to be able to make two more, so on and so on. As we completed our first pop up store earlier this year in NZ as our pilot – we were then able to use that money to create our European collection #SummerPart1 and from that the collection for NZ and Aus #SummerPart2 all the while donating 2/3’s of the cost back to our non profit – The Liberty Project which works with women in Mozambique.
What are two aspects of business in which you believe a new brand should invest in resources?
The finer details – brand presentation and design; for example how you package things, tags, stickers etc, and time – time to put into your branding; your public profile; including social media, website and photography – these are your brands look and feel – don’t compromise on these things – this is what people see and therefor your brand is the image they are buying. For The Collective Africa this is boldness, freedom and fun!
What has been the most successful marketing outlet for The Collective Africa?
I would say it’s Instagram – this is a growing platform that draws people in visually which fashion is all about, builds a fan base that you can communicate directly with and then it directs your followers to your website.
On your website, you have a select range available in New Zealand/Aus, how did you come about choosing the particular items?
The New Zealand and Australian new collection #SummerPart2 has some of our most popular designs from the European Summer range plus some exclusive designs for NZ and Aus. I think Kiwi’s are a lot bolder in their fashion choices than some places in Europe; so I had fun choosing some bright and bold prints and chose some garment designs that I know fit warm days but also the cooler evenings that we have in NZ.
In what ways are patterns and colours you have in your New Zealand/Australia range reflective particular aspects about the culture you're targeting?
Capulana is the name of the fabric we buy here in Mozambique to make our garments from, it’s a staple in every Mozambican women’s life here – they wear then, carry babies in them, wrap items in them etc, etc, when choosing this for NZ women I thought about how we often lead the way in the world in many areas, and so I took the inspiration from women here in Mozambique, a bold and versatile fabric and made garments that I know NZ women will wear with pride and wear into situations where they lead the way, whether it be in the workplace, on the global stage or at home influencing future generations – my hope is that each women who buys our garments feels free to be bold and to be themselves in our clothing. They are fashioned (created) to be free!
How do you think the New Zealand market will respond to your pieces? Is there any inspiration from Kiwi designers that confirm the shift to New Zealand is a necessary movement?
NZ is one of the boldest markets out there, we love to try new things, good old Kiwi ingenuity! We already have some fabulous designers like Karen Walker who have taken place on the global stage with boldness and Trelise Cooper who is known for her love of frills and colour, The Collective Africa brings boldness, freedom and fun - a new addition to the NZ fashion scene. We offer something fresh and new that will compliment the designers that already boost NZ’s reputation in the world of fashion, and we hope to join that all the while promoting freedom for women from abuse, oppression and sexual exploitation. We think NZ women will love this range and in doing so and putting on boldness with one of our garments they are also giving women of Mozambique a free future full of hope! Fashion for Freedom!
The Collective Africa is an ethical fashion label that fuses together Afro Chic and Contemporary European design. Collectively across the globe we as women can encourage each other be free to be bold, while making a difference in the lives of other women. Proceeds from every garment go towards bringing freedom to women in Mozambique from backgrounds of abuse, oppression and sexual exploitation, through donation to The Liberty Project. #GetYourBoldOn You are #FashionedForFreedom #TheCollectiveAfrica
Instagram: @The_Collective_Africa Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheCollectiveAfrica