WARDROBE STYLIST, DESIGNER
With Broke&Living, Charlene Akuamoah, Nicole Simmons and Meg Prosper have created a unisex clothing line that speaks to youth culture in the way many designers cannot; it’s luxurious, socially-aware, fluid, and reasonably priced. But beyond that, it’s changing lives in a real way for non-binary people of color.
Akuamoah, the Ontario-based, Ghanaian wardrobe stylist and designer, speaks with OkayAfrica about the inspiration behind the brand and how they see it impacting young people beyond the drip.
With [Broke&Living], it organically grew from a blog to an artistic collective to jewelry line to clothing over the years... Being able to create something from my imagination and watch it come to life will never get old, it's such an incredible feeling. I find that my work as a designer has helped steer many conversations around sexuality and fashion. Especially working as an African woman in this field. I've had so many women and non-binary POC's tell me how much the work we do for Broke&Living has inspired them and made them feel seen. I also feel like my visibility in these spaces is very crucial; though most of the important work isn't immediately visible, it helps to have people that look like me in these positions to remind others that we're here and we're ready to shake things up.
My current challenges in both aspects would be the lack of visibility for black women as well as funding (on the clothing side). Living and dwelling in spaces where women like me were always so scarce and often overlooked is what always made me want to stand up for us. I've met so many incredible women who are living in their truth and taking up space unapologetically, sometimes with no support. I've also met women who were brilliant individuals but were afraid to take up space. I stand up and support all of them, always. Our voice matters. Our work matters. Even if I'm not yet in a position to provide opportunities for other African women, I hope my visibility in these spaces serves as motivation until I'm able to effectively lend a hand.
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity