Behind The Seams: Lisa Folawiyo
In 2005, Nigerian native, Lisa Folawiyo launched Jewel by Lisa, one of the first lines to popularize the art of embellishing Ankara fabric using Swarovski crystals, sequins and beads. It wasn't long before Lisa became one of the most popular Nigerian fashion designers and Jewel by Lisa was featured worldwide in magazines, blogs and celebrities. Now Lisa and her team have struck gold yet again with J-Label, a chic and affordable line of staple pieces for every woman. Recently, Heritage1960 chatted with Lisa about her life, inspiration and the fabulous J-Label.
Heritage1960: Tell us a bit about your background and where you are from in Nigeria.
Lisa Folawiyo: My father is Yoruba from Oyo State. In my culture you are from where your father is from. My mom is actually from the West Indies - Trinidad & Tobago. I think of myself as full Nigerian. I love the West Indies and it has played a role in the color inspiration in my designs.
H1960: As a child were you inspired by fashion?
LF: I used to make fashion magazines as a child. I always enjoyed fashion and I think there was something, a talent, that people saw in me that I didn’t necessarily know I had at the time!
H1960: How did the concept of incorporating beadwork in your designs originate? It has been such a standout signature look for Jewel by Lisa and now, J-Label.
LF: We started with Ankara from Nigeria. For me, it is a fabric that has been worn and used forever. I needed to see it differently. I’ve always liked beading, so I thought why don’t we jewel this and make it special? We retexturized the Ankara fabric. I do feel like I just wanted something extra special. Something detailed that takes it from A to wherever. It was all about retexturizing with what I love.
H1960: What inspires you when creating a new collection?
LF: I met this amazing photographer, J D Okhai Ojeikere, who ended up inspiring my collection. In addition, I think of the pieces I want to wear. I think about the JBL Lady. Does she want to be sexy and fun? Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea. It comes from anywhere at any time.
H1960: Who are some of your style icons and favorite designers?
LF: I have an older sister, Karen, who has always been someone I’ve watched. I run my prints by her and ask how she would wear things. My head of PR Zara is my muse in my head. I ask myself, “What would Zara wear”. I'm a big fan of Giovanna Battaglia’s style. I also like Shala Monroque - she has loads of style! Miuccia Prada is very creative and dynamic. Also love Consuelo Castiglioni, designer of Marni. Her work, especially her prints, are amazing!
H1960: What are five things in your closet that you cannot do without?
LF: 1) Jeans: I love jeans. I will always have my skinny denim
2) Hermes Bag: I have a thing for them!
4) JBL classic jackets: The old ones I wear a lot and will never get rid of
5) Costume Jewelry: I have a drawer full. When I travel, I find new pieces.
H1960: Tell us about the birth of J-Label. How does it differ from Jewel by Lisa and who is the J-Label girl?
LF: JBL is more high end. I have a niece who is going to be 17. She would tell me that she likes certain pieces from JBL, but could’t afford it. It got me thinking about what we could do. I thought it was important to give everyone access. J-Label has JBL DNA written all over it. You get what you want from JBL, but at a better price. The J-Label girl is young, stylish, confident. Every girl is a J-Label girl.
H1960: What is the one thing that you are most proud of since launching Jewel by Lisa and becoming one of Nigeria's most popular designers?
LF: For me, it is when I feel and know that I have been able to do something that I did not seek to do before. There is nothing more amazing then to produce and to see strength and growth.
H1960: Thanks so much Lisa! It was such a pleasure to speak with you. I have been a big fan of yours! You have made us Nigerians very proud!
LF: Thank you Joy. It was a pleasure to speak to you as well, congratulations on all the great things you are doing. Keep waving the flag and representing Nigeria!
About the Contributor: Joy Adaeze is a Fashion Stylist and Blogger. She documents her personal style through "Daily Style Chronicles" on Essence.com and also through her personal style blog, Joy Loves Fashion. Joy Adaeze contributes to H1960 Edit's "Behind The Seams" column.