The Lisa Folawiyo Biography
The 41-year old Lisa Folawiyo works her magic with ankara , a popular traditional West African fabric , creating her unique custom prints. Lisa Folawiyo is the Founder and Creative Director of Jewel by Lisa and the Lisa Folawiyo brand.
Lisa Folawiyo Early Life
Lisa was born into a family of 4 in 1976; Folawiyo’s father is Nigerian from Ogbomosho, Oyo state & her mom is from the Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobego growing up with had cultural influences growing up.
Lisa Folawiyo Growing Up
Lisa recounts her childhood memeories with Omenka during an interview
“I remember then I was about seven years old. We used to live at old Ikoyi. You know the streets were not like they are now. Then they were residential as it is supposed to be, and we used to go for long rides on our bicycles. Our parents let us go out at night to buy suya even when we were so young with a group of other kids. We rode bikes, played on the streets; it was fun. I’m not that old you know? (laughs) But it is different now.”-
Lisa Folawiyo Education
Lisa Folawiyo attended the She attended Adrao International School for her nursery education and then Saint Saviour’s School for primary .
She then moved to Federal Government College, Illorin for junior secondary II and III.
Folawiyo later attended Suleja Academy in Abuja for gifted children, stayed for only two terms before completing her secondary school education at Atlantic Hall in Lagos.
She gained her B.L from University of Lagos and moved on to Law School, where she gained her MLD.
Lisa Folawiyo , Fashion To Passion
As a lawyer, I found no career or job satisfaction. I wasn’t excited about going to work. To be honest, I was bored. It didn’t help matters that I fell pregnant with my first child around that period.
The idea was to create a ready-to-wear womenswear brand that transformed and redefined the idea of African Fashion.- Lisa
‘I never thought I’d be a designer. In fact I grew up believing I’d be a barrister. But when I began practising law something just didn’t click.’
Lisa Folawiyo & Her Fashion Escapades
Lisa kicked off her label “Jewel by Lisa” in 2005 , after the birth of her duaghter , starting small from her home .
Ten Years and counting ,The Lisa Folawiyo brand has grown and gotten immense recognition outside the shores of Nigeria, international recognition for her work..
The Lawyer turned Fashion Designer, Lisa Folawiyo who has made tremedous impact in the fashion industry with no formal training .
I started off with the first N20, 000 I had. I had to. With that I was able to buy 12 yards of fabric, and as luck would have it, my mother’s seamstress was willing to help me out by making my first two pieces, skirts, for a very fair few. Jewel by Lisa has continued to be privately funded.- Lisa
Her collections are also showcased in the US, the UK, Nigeria and South Africa.
She has a knack for elevating traditional African prints above the status quo, making them relevant for a global audience.
She has showrooms in both Nigeria and New York and her collections are stocked in the UK, the US, South Africa and Nigeria itself.
JBL’s very first show was in 2005 and the collection was called Safari Chic .It had the classic Jewel by Lisa aesthetic, with the cocktail dresses, tiered skirts, wrap dresses, kimonos and even swimwear! All in Ankara but very prettily embellished.
Lisa tells a really melancholic tale of the show:
“I used to work with Fauzi Fahm and he did all the branding. He said to me, you are doing this whole new Ankara thing, why don’t we do a show?” and a show they had! It was a big fashion show sponsored by Polo. She continues, “We had Linda Mesrob and Didi Ocheja (Accessories Designers) and we also had Bola Balogun. We all came together and said ,’Let’s sell this new wave of African Fashion’”, says Lisa.
Lisa & Awards
She won the Africa Fashion Award in 2012 and was featured in Vogue Italia, the holy grail of fashion worldwide.
Championed by Vogue Italia, Folawiyo has also partnered with L’Oreal and done a trunk show on Moda Operandi . Her line is currently stocked in Selfridges.
In 2015 she was featured in the prestigious BOF500, which is a list of fashion brands that are shaping the international fashion scene. She was one of a few Nigerians who made it on the list.
Her works has appeared at the Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week Spring/ Summer ‘10 & ’12 collections.
She has also shown her work at the Lagos Fashion and Design Week, as well as presented her AW ‘12/Resort ‘13 Collection at the prestigious Pitti W Tradeshow in Florence.
Lisa & Family
Lisa Folawiyo has been married for 14 years and has known her husband for 21 years. She is a mother of three children.
I was so excited designing the prints and each piece. And even more so because I knew how accessible it would be.- Lisa (Guardian Interview)
Lisa Folawiyo Travel Destinations
New York , Mexico& Dubai
Lisa & Her Fav Designers
Maki Oh has a very strong point of view. I like that. Tzar is an upcoming designer I believe has that special something . Meena is great too. I love Miuccia, Prada and Delpozo is quite amazing.
My passion drives me. My team and my staff drive me. The need to continue to influence fashion drives me. My dreams drive me. Fashion is a commitment! You are either in or out- Lisa
Lisa folawiyo collection are exclusively crafted from Ankara textiles; vibrant wax-resistant dyed fabrics characteristic of West Africa.
“Our mothers, grandmothers and probably great-grandmothers have worn this fabric.” Folawiyo has told the BBC.
Her garments are embellished with beads, sequins and crystals all sewn by hand in local workshops in Nigeria.
She attributes her success to finding and sticking to this unusual aesthetic.
Yet, while Ankara might be the cloth upon which her designs are created, her faith in God is the cornerstone upon which her work is founded.
From a lawyer, to a mother, to a fashion designer, Lisa Folawiyo is rebranding African fashion not just for those on the continent but for the international market too.
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