Afua Sam, is the founder and designer of Studio D’Maxsi and The A Concept. This year, DC Fashion Week recognized her trailblazing designs as a participant and supported DCFW through the years. Sam was one of the designers honored with the Hall of Fame Fashion Award.
In May, Sam was a “Lit in DC” honoree, which recognized her work in fashion in the District of Columbia.
“I have so much love for D.C. because that is my home where everything started in terms of fashion in America,” says Sam, who is originally from Ghana. “I knew fashion was attached to my destiny because that gave me the opportunity to come to America,” she said.
For all of Sam’s creativity, it’s important to her to give back. She has a program that provides a prom dress to a high school student. In addition, she has been a regular participant in fashion shows and events that support various causes.
After working with many different breast cancer organizations, she decided to create a dress “to honor all breast cancer survivors all over the world for their courage.” The “bra dress,” as it is known, is made almost exclusively of black bras donated by the Bali bra company.
Sam’s brands feature bold and vibrant colors. Her newest collection, The A Concept, celebrated its first anniversary earlier this year.
Chef Eric Adjepong is the co-founder of Pinch & Plate alongside wife and decorator Janell Adjepong. He was a finalist on Season 16 of Bravo’s Top Chef, where he earned consistent acclaim from judges and popularity among viewers. As a first-generation Ghanaian-American born and raised in New York City, Eric sources the flavors and influences in his cooking from many of the West African dishes he grew up eating. He is passionate about introducing diner to West African cuisine and the impact its diaspora has had on South American, Latin American, Caribbean, and American food, all in his elegant, artfully plated style.
Prior to launching Pinch & Plate, Eric cooked in several Michelin-starred restaurants in New York after graduating with degrees in culinary arts and nutrition from Johnson & Wales, one of the country’s premiere culinary universities. He also holds a Master of Public Health in International Public Health Nutrition from the University of Westminster in London.
Born in Harlem and based in the Bronx, Larry Ossei-Mensah brings a broad set of skills to his curatorial practice. His academic studies focused on business. He has an undergraduate degree in management from Clark University and an MBA from Les Roches School in Switzerland. In the years since he amplified his credentials with advanced training. An alum of the Independent Curators International Curatorial Intensive, he also completed the Stanford Impact Program for Arts Leaders.
He is a co-founder of Artnoir which describes itself as a “global collective of culturalists.” Composed of curators, artists, and writers, the group produces events such as talks and performances designed to “engage this generation’s dynamic and diverse creative class.” In May, at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, Artnoir presented “Hear/Here,” the first of what is expected to be a series of “live performative experiences” that featured writer/composer Samora Pinderhughes, artist Nina Chanel Abney, musicians, and a poet.
Lovie Simone Oppong started her acting career at the age of 9. She began in commercials, with her first being for JC Penny and got her to break when she was cast at 16 for Greenleaf which is executive produced by Oprah Winfrey. She is currently a regular and filming the fourth season. She stars in a new film (Selah and the Spades) that was featured at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. She has been a cast member in the Movies; “Share” and “All Rise” which have also been showcased at Sundance. Share will be out later this year on HBO and All Rise will be in theaters September of 2019.
Through the years of her career, Lovie has worked on voice-overs, independent films, print ads, and industrials. Lovie being a NY native joined Saving Our daughters as a Celebrity Godparent for their national performing arts program for multicultural girls at their Boys & Girls Club of Harlem NY. The performing arts program helped to deter bullying with young girls in NY.
Lovie was also a speaker at Step Up which is a Non-Profit Organization in NY that works with girls to prepare for high school graduation and empower them to graduate on time. In Step Up, girls work with each other and their mentors to think about and plan for life after high school. She spoke about the importance of young girls following their dreams and not giving up in this male-dominated world.
Since its inception, 54 Kingdoms has positioned itself as a creative think-tank challenging the status quo of fashion and design as the Storytellers In FashionTM. By sparking a new school of thought in the fashion & design industry, 54 Kingdoms has created a blueprint on how to tell stories through fashion.
In addition, 54 Kingdoms continues to challenge and change the perception of ‘African inspired fashion’, which throughout history has primarily focused on using imported wax prints and vibrant textiles from the African continent to make clothes and accessories. 54 Kingdoms do this by putting storytelling at the center of its designs, where every thread/stitch tethers the consumer to the shores of Africa and beyond. It is what the company refers to as a seamless integration of symbolic, cultural and historical context inspired by Africa and its Diaspora.
Storytellers In FashionTM is an innovative design model and event concept that 54 Kingdoms is globally recognized for.
Christian Sefa started out in the fashion industry, studying extensively and experimenting with some trials and errors and once he figured out what he liked best about clothing and what works for him, he decided to take it to social media. He had modeled a few times and had an idea of what it consisted of, but never really heard of a fashion influencer until he looked up major Icons in that niche. The first person he discovered was Blake Scott; who impressed him with his creativity and ways of really making a brand stand out. He then proceeded to create the content of his own and pitching ideas/sending emails to brands for sponsorships; he had his breakthrough with the first sponsorship from ZaafCollection, an Ethiopian Brand for Bags.
Throughout his campaigns with brands and other collaborations, he decided to help out others in the fashion world with Youtube videos, style tips, and assisting High school Boys with their prom outfits. He was able to reach and be reached by High School guys around his area to help them find perfect outfits based on their ideas and wants. He believes, he brought them out of their shells on the fashion side, by putting together three outfit ideas that each could choose from and then realized that he couldn’t stop there so created Gents Corner.
The idea started off with the motivation to teach the youth the importance of ‘dressing how they want to be addressed.’ Gents Corner also takes it further, not only knowing how to dress, but how to carry yourself, respect for yourself and others, and becoming a better person.