STYLE PRO­FILE Meet Abrima Er­wiah

Stu­dio 189 founder. Unashamed home­body. Com­mu­nity up­lifter

House and Leisure (South Africa) - - Contents - COMPILED BY KHOLEKA KUMALO PHO­TO­GRAPH JOSHUA JOR­DAN

I was born and raised in New York City. I have a brand called Stu­dio 189, which pro­motes African and sus­tain­able fash­ion. I love what I do be­cause it brings peo­ple to­gether, and it is in­no­va­tive and ex­pres­sive. I started work­ing with lux­ury la­bels such as Bot­tega Veneta, Ce­sare Pa­ciotti and Her­mès many years ago, and ul­ti­mately de­cided to weave de­vel­op­ment work into it. Through her role in ac­tivism and phi­lan­thropy, ac­tress Rosario Daw­son helped me forge a path in so­cial de­vel­op­ment work, and I even­tu­ally moved on in my ca­reer to work and part­ner with or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the United Na­tions In­ter­na­tional Trade Cen­ter, Afripads, 14plus foun­da­tion, V-Day and the Lower East­side Girls Club. My favourite pieces of de­sign at home in­clude fur­ni­ture that we had cus­tom-made in Africa, such as a pea­cock chair and a Dan­ish-style teak ta­ble. My favourite con­tem­po­rary artists are French-Sene­galese pho­tog­ra­pher Del­phine Diallo, New York City-based Nige­rian por­trait pain­ter Ke­hinde Wi­ley and vis­ual artist Toyin Ojih Odu­tola, and US artists Kaws, Micka­lene Thomas and Kerry James Mar­shall. When I dress to im­press, I wear a vin­tage navy-and-white pin­stripe power suit by Yves Saint Lau­rent that be­longed to my mother. I also love wear­ing my Marni dress with a Bot­tega Veneta coat and bag, and adding a Stu­dio 189 silk scarf or a silk ki­mono. My go-to com­fort food is pasta, salad and Ghana­ian light soup. My kitchen- cup­board sta­ples are al­mond milk, farro, gra­nola, yo­ghurt, kale, broc­coli rabe, onions, tomatoes, gin­ger, turmeric, rocket and co­rian­der. My favourite restau­rants are Café Mo­gador in New York City for Mid­dle East­ern and Mediter­ranean cui­sine. I love their grilled salmon with beet­root and cous­cous. I also like Chez Clarisse, an Ivo­rian restau­rant in Ac­cra, that makes a grilled tilapia glazed with an Ivo­rian se­cret sauce, topped with sautéed onions and served with aloco and acheke. Then, to sat­isfy my love of Ghana­ian dishes such as kon­tomire stew, boiled yams and jollof rice, I turn to God is Love Chop Bar in Tako­radi, Ghana. The one thing I al­ways travel with is a bot­tle of wa­ter. A coun­try that I will never forget is Zam­bia. My next dream des­ti­na­tions are Sene­gal and Morocco. If money were no ob­ject, I’d treat my­self to trav­el­ling around the world with my mother. I’m read­ing Amer­i­canah by Chi­ma­manda Ngozi Adichie and lis­ten­ing to Up­root Andy’s Bumper to Bumper mix al­bum pre­sented by Stu­dio 189. If I could change some things about Ghana, it would be health­care, elec­tric­ity and in­fra­struc­ture issues and in the United States, it would be the prison, food and health­care sys­tems. I hate it when peo­ple are not given a fair chance to suc­ceed. When I was younger, I used to think that I could make a big difference by help­ing to make the world a bet­ter place. All I need to make me happy is home. I love be­ing with fam­ily and friends. They are com­fort­ing and ground­ing. I think it’s im­por­tant to know where you come from, and to sur­round your­self with a strong sup­port sys­tem of peo­ple who love and un­der­stand you, no mat­ter what. Home is a safe space and a feel­ing, re­gard­less of where you are in the world. The best ad­vice I’ve ever re­ceived is from my mom. She said that money doesn’t make you rich. stu­diooneeighty­

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