This week’s column is on Anita Horsfall, the creative genius behind the revolutionary Luxury accessories brand, Anita Quansah London. Anita took on a very daring approach with her craft. She tapped into her African heritage and created pieces reminiscent of her background. Her formative years were spent with her grandmother, who at the time resided in Onitsha, a city in the Eastern part of Nigeria. Co-incidentally Anita’s late grandmother was a well respected Jewellery designer, who designed pieces for an impressive list of clients.
Anita currently resides in the United kingdom where she single handedly runs Anita Quansah London. The brand’s bold aesthetics and strong ethnic stamp has garnered quite a strong following of clients and international media. She had so much to tell us about her passion for her craft, pride in her culture and heritage and her switch from Textile design to the exciting world of hand-made luxurious jewellery.
Please read below:
1.Ezinne Chinkata: Hello Anita, could you please introduce us briefly to the Anita Quansah London brand.
Anita Quansah: Anita Quansah London is UK’s one of a kind, award-winning, luxury, handmade accessories brand established in 2006. It’s a much admired and coveted brand which is cultivated through love, dedication, pride, passion and respect for creativity, craftsmanship, and cultural diversity. Not only is the brand a celebration of art, it thrives on it’s uniqueness and innovation of bold, statement jewelry, which in itself has become conversational wearable arts.
2. Ezinne Chinkata: Tell me a bit more about your Grand mom and her influence on your design language.
Anita Quansah: Words cannot describe this amazing woman God blessed me with. I grew up in a loving, blessed home with super amazing women. My granny Omenyi Clara Menkiti was one of a kind, she’s a rare gem. Although she’s late her spirit still lives on and I feel she’s always with me when I’m creating.
My granny was a creative herself. She was a designer of her time. She designed and made clothes for many including the Obi of Onitsha, Ofala Okagbue, and all his cabinet members. She also designed clothes for Onowu of Onitsha, and the traditional prime ministers of the cabinet of Onitsha, Anambra State, and Southeast Nigeria.Not only was she a great mentor to many, she trained and supported many men and women through her skill acquisition school. She supported her family during the Biafra war and after the war using her skills. Seeing her love and passion for her craft, inspired me greatly to be a better person through my gift.She was a perfectionist, her attention to detailing was like no other. She always encouraged me to be who I was created to be. Follow my dreams and always put God first and seek God’s counsel each time.
She’s my muse, my number 1 fan, and most of all the best granny in the whole world. I’ll forever love her, her shoes are too big to fill, and I hope I’m making her proud.
3.E.C: You studied textile design, how did the switch to becoming a Jewellery designer happen?
A.Q: My curiosity to explore a different field enabled me to make that switch. I’m a textile designer by profession, specialised in Fabric manipulation and embroidery.
I wasn’t jewelry trained, I didn’t learn the skill from anyone i.e. school or attend any jewelry workshop. I simply used my gift of creativity to experiment and explore many ideas that have translated into what I’m doing now.I’ve always wanted to be in the creative field. I’m always imagining and curious about a lot of things, I’ve always looked at things a lot differently. I love to transcend into my creative, imaginative world and get so lost in it that nothing else matters, with the exception of God, my family and friends.Creativity enables me to delve deeper spiritually and emotionally, where an inner transformation is cultivated through the practices of inner peace, which is a key quality needed as a creative.
4. E.C:How long does an Anita Quansah piece take to get made?
A.Q: It depends on the piece because every piece is handcrafted, some pieces can take 72 hours to several weeks to
5. E.C: Do you do it all by yourself?
A.Q: Yes, I design and make every piece from my collection. I’m currently looking for creative geniuses and enthusiasts to join my creative adventure
6.E.C: Is your success dependent on numbers? If yes, how do you increase output, considering how long it takes to create a piece.
A.Q: Not at all. It depends on what we equate success with, some equate it with monetary values or selfish reasons while others equate it with passion. I am more of an advocate of enriching people with my gift. I look forward to each day, look forward to doing my job and creating endlessly, and my clients enjoy my craft because it’s created with love and just not with the thought of money in the bank.
7.E.C: What do you feel is the one move that has helped your career tremendously?
A.Q: Staying grounded and focused, never losing sight of who I am as a person. I’m not perfect, I consider myself as work in progress, learning on a daily basis.
8.E.C: How do you stay motivated?
A.Q: Being positive and being close to my creator, my Number one muse, and Icon the Almighty God
9. E.C: Your pieces have a strong African stamp, do you feel this gives you an edge in the Western world?
A.Q:Definitely a lot, I am what I am, my culture is me, and my work is conceived through my identity. My diverse heritage and deep connection to my culture has given me a great advantage and freedom when it comes to expressing myself through my designs.My gift of creativity is a tool I often use to inspire others and tell stories about my beautiful heritage.
10. E.C: If you had a chance to create a special collection for retail in stores in Nigeria, would you have to tweak your designs to suit the new group of consumers?
A.Q: I haven’t had to tweak or change my designs for any retailers that carry my brand to date.
Any retailer carrying Anita Quansah London knows the ethos of the brand and the message it conveys. Which are originality, a celebration of culture, creativity, diversity, and unique craftsmanship You get a show stopping, one of a kind, conversational jewelry like no other, which itself is a work of art.But in saying that, if a client wants me to make changes I’m totally open to that, but I don’t like my creativity to be meddled with, and watered down that it loses it’s originality and becomes the norm.
11.E.C: What music are you feeling right now?
A.Q: I love different genres of music, any music that moves my soul and spirit is a plus for me.
I must say at the moment, I’m very into Jhené Aiko
12: E.C: Classic, vintage or eclectic, what girl are you?
A.Q: I would like to think I’m an eclectic kind of girl
13.E.C: Which celebrity would you love to see in Anita Quansah?
A.Q:This is a tricky question Ezinne, I love and admire women in general. But I’m greatly inspired by confident eccentrics, women who have strong personalities and have their very own individual sense of style. Fashion Rebels who break all the rules in the fashion and art world, the likes of Erykah Badu and Iris Apfel.
14. E.C: What are your thoughts on the African Fashion industry?
A.Q: The African fashion Industry needs to be applauded. We have come so far and have accomplished great and mighty things, especially with the global development and communication change in the industry,
Whilst the industry faces many challenges, such as weak supply chains, lack of investments and physical infrastructure one cannot ignore the huge growth potential it has globally.
We have great talents stemming from the continent, a few thriving internationally and many aspiring to make their mark on the global market.
In order to successfully compete internationally African designers need to embrace and integrate their rich homegrown African identity with that of creativity and natural resources to attract the demographic of consumers who are seeking originality and authenticity.
I concur with this sentence by Guinean political leader Ahmed Sekou Toure, which applies to Africans moving forward in the global market “We should go down to the grassroots of our cultures, not to rain there, not to be isolated there, but to draw strength and substance therefrom, and with whatever additional sources of strength and material we acquire, proceed to set up a new form of society raised to the level of human progress”.
14. E.C:If you had one chance to speak to an aspiring jewelry designer, what would you say to her?
A.Q: Love what you do and do it with passion. Be extremely creative and fearless in your creativity and don’t succumb to rules. Make your own rules and be original
15. E.C: Any exciting new projects to share with us?
A.Q: I’m always working on exciting projects.