Allana Finley, African fashion and design consultant and anti-malaria activist, on her business initiatives, philanthropic ventures and work ethos
I’m inspired by people around me doing groundbreaking things in business, such as my husband and individuals I’ve worked with, like Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe.
While working for African Fashion International (AFI), I also had the pleasure of working with an organisation called The Clothing Bank, which is supported by the Motsepe Foundation. I love the fact that AFI provides a platform for many African designer businesses, thereby economically empowering women in manufacturing.
My business plans are to continue seeking out funding opportunities to eradicate malaria with the Goodbye Malaria initiative, provide opportunities to African designers and artisans for global exposure and commercial growth, and remain involved in innovative projects that tell Africa’s story.
The best advice I can offer youngsters aspiring to enter the fashion industry is not to be motivated by money. I started my career in fashion at the age of 16, folding jeans at Gap and selling sneakers at a local athletic chain store in my home town of Philadelphia for almost no pay. While in college, I spent all my breaks and summer holidays interning as a showroom assistant at DKNY. I crashed at friends’ apartments and hardly ate because I needed the little I earned to travel to work and back. I wouldn’t do it any differently, as my choices then developed into the work ethic I have today.
I love online shopping and can spend hours surfing the net. My favourite local and international online stores include: www.kisua.com, www.netaporter.com, www.polyvore.com, www.amazon.com, www.zappos.com, www.asos.com and www.mrp.com