Annastasya Coulibaly has been one busy lady the past few years: after completing her degree in Psychology at the University of Heidelberg, she decided to follow her love for fashion and did two internships at ateliers specializing in couture in Frankfurt. She took the leap two years ago and launched her own brand, Afrida avec plaisir, through which she presents her beautiful creations in traditional West African wax print fabric. Her goal has been to prove that fashion can and should be ethically and morally responsible, whilst being stylish, fun, loud and cheeky. Having started with clothing, she’s now branched into homewares as well. Its quite a lot to keep going, especially since she works full-time at a law firm as well! We spoke with her about the importance of ethics in business, being a Frankfurter by choice (and loving it!) and the importance of listening to yourself.
On launching a brand that focuses on fair production
AFRIDA is a symbiosis of my two first names, Anastasia and Frida, and is meant to symbolise the link I have with the African continent. I was born in the Côte d'Ivoire - my father is African and my mother German - and we moved to Germany when I was a baby. I’ve grown up here ever since, but the bond to those roots remains. After choosing the name, I discovered by accident that in Arabic this word means ‘to have created’ - which I found so fitting! I added the ‘avec plaisir’ part on to illustrate how much pleasure it gives me to develop and create products. Everything about my brand is against mass production: craftsmanship, fairness and individuality are the qualities that are very important to me. I wanted to challenge the notion that ethical fashion must be boring or dull - I want to present fashion that allows each individual woman to feel beautiful and empowered, whilst still being extremely fair to the people involved within the industry. I source my fabrics from the Ivory Coast and work with tailors in Abidjan as well as in Frankfurt to create each piece. I make the patterns, my tailors then create each piece.
On loving being a Frankfurter - by choice
I’ve lived in so many different places - from Africa to all over Germany. I went to university in Heidelberg, which is such a beautiful and picturesque town. Its full of cobblestoned lanes and pre-war architecture. I moved to Frankfurt four years ago and really like it here - it has a great urban vibe and there’s plenty going on. I call myself a “Wahl-Frankfurter”, for which a rough translation from German would be “Frankfurter by choice”. I love my neighbourhood, Bornheim, in the northern part of the city and the Bergerstrasse is one of my favourite hangouts. Especially when the weather gets warmer and the cafes and restaurants put chairs and tables outdoors on the sidewalk - it makes me feel like I’m on holiday. I have a few spots I love hanging out at for dinner or coffee or a glass of wine; what I also love is the Saturday farmers’ market, where I go to buy flowers.
On being in tune with yourself
A few years ago, I developed problems with my stomach. It wasn’t just my digestion, it was affecting my skin and my well-being too. I decided to go off caffeine and lactose - and that changed a whole lot. I feel so much better now - my skin’s great and I don’t have any of my previous symptoms. I’m not not one to jump on a food-trend bandwagon - I don’t count calories and am a bit skeptical about about all the trends washing up. I’d never be vegan - I love meat even though I only eat it very rarely - I eat fish regularly though. I believe its important to listen to your body - and your spirit when it comes to nourishment of any kind. Ultimately, only you can really tell what’s going to make a difference! I’m a big tea fan now - Kusmi is my favourite brand and I love their herbal teas.
Here are Annastasya’s answers to our three questions:
/ What gets you out of bed every morning?
Snoozing for at least half an hour - I need my time waking up. Then opening the window.
/ What makes you feel beautiful?
To know, and to thank God for the fact that He has made me wonderful: "I thank you for making me marvelous; Wonderful are thy works, and that my soul well knows. "(Psalm 139: 14)
/ Why Indian Goods Company?
Because it's done with love! Because products with a unique and personal history behind it are simply wonderful.
Thank you so much for your time and energy Annastasya! We wish much joy and success!
Visit Afrika aver plaisir’s online shop and follow the brand on Facebook.
Annastasya wears the Kantha sari scarf in green and orange and the Jhumka necklace in neutral.
Photography: Jonas Lenger