“I am a black woman born and raised in South Orange, New Jersey, currently living in Atlanta,” said Amira Rasool. “I am the founder and CEO of The Folklore. We are a B2B wholesale, e-commerce platform that helps retailers discover and shop brands that are based in emerging markets.”
There’s more to the fashion industry than jobs in designing or styling. Like any other sector, fashion is a business so there’s a space and a job for everyone. That includes a person who loves math, a person who solely loves to shop or a business-minded individual.
The word “everyone” doesn’t just refer to those who have different interests or job titles, but also those of a different race or gender. We’ve decided to highlight how diverse the fashion industry is, could be, and should be with a series of stories on Black professionals with not-so-average fashion careers.
How did you get to work in fashion?
It all started in second grade when Rasool would plan her outfits for the first day of school. “I had this Michael Jackson inspired look where I wore a Fedora and a pinstripe vest, and maybe some black jeans and boots,” said Rasool. “My parents used to let me dress myself from a very young age. They used to just let me do what I [wanted] to do with my hair and my style.”
High school was when she started thinking about fashion as a career. Due to watching The Devil Wears Prada, Rasool wanted to work for a magazine. She started a blog which led her to intern for trade journal Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) in 2014 for two years. She then worked for V Magazine for a year as a Fashion Assistant and then a Fashion Coordinator. After parting with V Magazine, Rasool moved to Cape Town, South Africa.
She said that in college she studied African American Studies and was intrigued with Black culture and Black history. Because of her love for Black culture, she decided to go on vacation to South Africa during her senior year. It was there when she decided to start her business. “I really fell in love with the country itself, but also just all of the talent that I discovered while I was there,” Rasool explained. “I wanted to find a way to use what I love doing and what I know, and the resources I had to make a difference in Black communities in particular.”
She continued to say that she thought about what she loved doing and what she saw a need for. “I came up with the idea that we have all these talented brands out there that nobody knows about. It’s not just in South Africa it’s Black brands around the world, and it’s hard to access them so I decided to create a platform that makes it easier,” she said. Solving such an issue required implications such as creating economic opportunities in communities, creating jobs, and being able to increase exports - “that was really important to me.” “I looked at it through an activist lens,” Rasool continued. “Whatever I want to do, I want to make an impact on my community. And that’s what we’re doing now.”
What’s your current fashion job?
With entrepreneurship comes a certain form of freedom. Being the founder and CEO of The Folklore Group allows Rasool the freedom to choose the life she wishes to live. “The core things that I really value out of life, this job allows me to basically carry out,” she said.
Rasool added that she loves to be creative and being able to find new talent, as well as the planning that is involved. “Being a CEO is creating the infrastructure, coming up with the creative ideas, but then also trying to figure out the best way to execute to make those ideas come to light,” Rasool concluded.
What does an average work day look like?
Rasool typically wakes up around 8:30 am and checks Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. She also reads fashion trade publications. After getting dressed she writes in her planner, “I set my intentions for the day, what my goals are with the top tasks I have.”
In addition, Rasool time blocks her day for certain tasks. Around 10 am she responds to as many Slack and email messages as she can within 30 minutes. “And then after all of that it’s whatever I have on the schedule for the day,” she said. Rasool works until 3 pm and then eats lunch and takes a break. She usually doesn’t go back to work until 5 pm or 6 pm. Depending on her work load she could work until 10 pm or 11 pm.
“So I’ve split my day up into two shifts. For [my] morning shift, that’s the stuff that I need to do with people to collaborate, and that’s when everybody’s on Slack,” Rasool explained. “And then the stuff I do at night is the stuff that is more independent work.”
A word of career advice
Rasool advises people to do what they can with what they are given, and to be creative in trying to make something work.
“Think about what resources you have. Think about what time you have. Think about the type of person you are, because not everybody is meant to start a business,” Rasool continued. “I think that needs to be really ingrained in people’s heads - that starting a business doesn’t mean you’re not going to have a job anymore; starting a business doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to work less. I work way more now as a business owner than I did when I was an employee.”
Rasool added that it’s about knowing yourself and what your risk tolerance level is. “Are you a fearful person? Do you scare easily? Do you have the type of confidence needed to start a business? Because you’re always going to get a bunch of no’s. Do you have the emotional capacity?”
She continued to say once a person is able to say that they have what it takes, then they need to ask themselves what resources they have to start a business? What knowledge do they have? What will they need? Rasool emphasized that you build up from where you are and what you have. “Just do what you can, and you’ll be able to grow the vision. It is a long term play.” “So don’t try to rush and do everything now and deplete your resources. I would say think about what you have and what you can offer and just do that really well,” she added. “If you keep doing that and you’re consistent, and you are able to take feedback and pivot when necessary, you’re going to be able to grow a successful business.”