Sankofa is an Akan symbol from Ghana that visually teaches us to go back to our roots in order to move forward effectively into the future. The spirit of this bird is embodied in the vision and purpose of Amani at Home. Amani Bush, the creator of Amani at Home, is passionate about using traditional, vibrant prints from Africa to create interior décor elements with a modern sensibility.
Like many entrepreneurs presented on SpeakMovement, we were introduced to Amani on Twitter. After several exchanges and phone conversations, we discovered that we were kindred spirits in our dedication to social responsibility and intercommunity commerce. A connection and business relationship was unavoidable. I am sure after you read our interview with Amani you will feel the same way.
QUESTION 1: What motivated you to pursue African inspired décor instead of another design style?
Choosing African inspired décor was an organic decision for me. I have a background in African American studies and I took my first pilgrimage to Africa in 2008. I feel a connection to Africa – the people, the culture and the land. When I decided to pursue my passion in interior design, promoting the African design aesthetic had to be a part of it.
People always here me say that I have a responsibility and a commitment to my community. I feel very strongly about that. It is important as entrepreneurs to include giving in your business model and to be socially responsible. Whatever your profession, trade or industry is, there is always room to give back to your community. I took it one step further. As I completed coursework and flipped through pages of top design magazines, I did not see anything that spoke to this style. I think a quote from my friend, M.K. Asante, Jr. says it best, “When you make an observation, you have an obligation.” I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to help educate people about the diverse world of African art, textiles and culture while pursuing my passion in interior design.
QUESTION 2: Being that you source a great deal of your fabrics from Africa, tell us your take on the importance of trading across the Atlantic and any challenges that come along with it.
When I came back from Africa in 2008, I had a suitcase full of fabric that I had no clue what I would do with at the time. I was able to put them to good use with the inception of Amani at Home. However, it would not be timely or economically feasible to take a ten-hour trip each time I needed new fabric. Since then I have built relationships with African vendors here and abroad who offer the best in fabrics and textiles around the world. Globalization is integral and allows us to tap into new markets and interact and integrate with one another.
African Americans or blacks in the United States have a purchasing power expected to exceed 1.1 trillion dollars by 2012. As SpeakMovement has pointed out, money circulates in the black community for 8 hours, compared to 30 days in other minority communities. This is a tremendous opportunity for consumers as well as entrepreneurs alike to invest our dollars more wisely. We would be remiss if that did not include our own communities. With that said, we should not forget about our brothers and sisters in Africa and the Caribbean. The key challenge is how to pool talent and resources and the facilitation of them coming together. Fortunately, there are individuals and organizations like FreeeAfrica.com who are dedicated to connecting Africa to the world and helping to bridge those gaps.
QUESTION 3: Outside of fabric choices, how else do you bring elements of the African Diaspora into your company and decorative pieces?
Interior Design is all about the details – no detail is too small. My pillows are great accents, yet there are so many other things to consider such as paint colors, artwork, furniture, lighting and accessories. Depending on the preference of the client, I look to find African-inspired pieces within their particular style and budget.
QUESTION 4: Since starting Amani at Home, what has been your most memorable moment as a budding entrepreneur?
Honestly every time someone purchases a pillow I get happy. I think to myself, there are people out there that “get it”. Besides the pillows being pretty, they understand the purpose and the vision behind what I am trying to do. When I sell 4 and 5 pillows at a time, I am on cloud nine. My most recent memorable moment was when Desiré Greene of Sukio Showroom in Washington, DC approached me to carry my pillows. That was the first occasion afforded to me to feature my designs in an actual brick and mortar. I am elated at all the possibilities partnerships like this can bring!
QUESTION 5: What does the future hold for Amani at Home?
I am in the process of expanding beyond pillows into other areas of home furnishings. I am currently under the research phase and then onto product development. I hope that your readers will stayed tuned to see what is next!
To purchase your African-inspired pillows today, visit Amani at Home on Etsy!