WORDS LESSIE MCCARTHY
Founder of London based womenswear label: Elizabeth “Yem” Akingbade speaks on her brand Yemzi, the struggles that came with starting with nothing, to a world recognised brand that was worn by Queen B herself, Beyonce. Introducing her newest collection Phonenix's Vengeance "She is fierce like the power of water and fire. Breathtaking and powerful. She can give life or take it away."
Read on to see more about the brand, upbringing and what's to come of Yemzi.
Lessie Mccarthy: What was your biggest inspiration for starting your brand?
Yemzi: Was literally wanting to stay creative beyond studying. I drew since I was a little girl, and I went to art school as a teenager in Bournemouth. My first introduction to this was doing Saturday classes at Bournemouth art institute. I continued through GCSE’S and A-Levels, but starting my own brand was my way of expressing my creativity and expressing myself.
L.M: What has been the highlight moment since starting your brand?
Y: The most exciting this for me is when creative people that inspire me to wear my stuff, like when Beyonce wore one of my items, that was a surreal moment and was amazing to be recognised by someone like her.
L.M: Where do you see the brand in the next 5 years?
Y: I see Yemzi as a global brand in the next 5 years. We’ve gone from womenswear to swimwear already, and I hope to see it going into a lifestyle brand.
L.M: Is there another brand that you would like to do a collaboration with?
Y: There are so many really, but I want her to wear my stuff so I would have to say, Rhianna.
L.M: What do you think has been the biggest obstacle since starting the brand in 2016?
Y: Not being able to solely focus on Yemzi probably. When I first started it I was a student, living in London and did not have the financial or emotional support of a wealthy family. I was having to learn as I went along and do it on my own. It meant that I had to work as a receptionist while doing Yemzi on the side. The only reason I am where I am is that I have a vision for Yemzi and I know I can make it happen because I am that passionate about it.
L.M: Diversity and progression are at the forefront and heart of your brand, what do you think other companies can do to ensure equality of employment for people of colour?
Y: Businesses’ can make more space on the shelf for black-owned independent businesses. For example, Selfridges have gotten a lot better at doing this, but as long as this isn’t just a response to the black lives matter movement and is a constant door opening to designers who don’t look like the majority.
The full collection is available at www.yemzi.com