Meet Daphne and Lois, the fashion designers sister duo who make bespoke formal children clothing using bold colours and prints for kids up to the age of 9.
My last two occasions meeting up with Aisu London has broadened my mind to a new level. The conversations we have had, flow from topic to topic ranging from politics, religion, hair products, life, and business. Somehow again we were able to interlink all topics before we have even begun our ‘interview.’
Where is the name Aisu London derived from?
Lois: Aisu is the name of the area our family is from in Soroti, Uganda. That is where we are from so we thought it would be important to fuse our heritage and where we were raised, in London, together. I was born in Uganda and moved here when I was 1, and Daphne was four years.
I assumed you were born in London.
Lois: I don’t remember much, but when I look at pictures it helps me remember back home – there is a picture of our small house, and we had sugar cane growing at the front which is my only real memory.
Daphne: I have got very good long–term memory, I remember everything (laughs)
Some people that have come across our names have struggled to pronounce it, but we wanted to keep it original and relevant to what we are trying to represent. But it is pronounced I – Ee – Suu. We have heard some strange pronunciations like Oh- woo- suu – but it comes with territory especially if we want people to understand and respect our brand’s culture and heritage.
Can you speak your language, and would you consider going back to your land of heritage?
Lois: I can’t speak my language, but I understand a few words. But if you were speaking to me in my language, I would know.
Daphne: I understand fluently, and I’m able to speak partially.
With heritage playing a strong influence in your brand’s name, who or what else has been a significant influence in your lives?
Lois: Our Granddad is a major influential figure in our lives, he was once the Ugandan ambassador to Belgium, he told us about all of his travels across the world, all of the influential people he met, from running his own business, and studying at Cambridge University. He is a very educated man, and all of his education was paid for due to his hard work ethic – he attained scholarships to the best institutes across the world.
I remember when we were kids going to our granddad’s office and feeling so chuffed, looking back at those moments subconsciously we knew as kids working for yourself was a great feeling. So our grandfather has indirectly and directly inspired us in many ways to start our business.
Daphne: Our Grandmother too, well subconsciously as she was a seamstress.
What was the final push in making you start your business?
Daphne: We started our business Aisu London 3 years ago but we have been in fashion for six years and my daughter Rhianna ‘the muse’ gave birth to this business. When I had to buy her clothes I saw printed t-shirts with phrases such as ‘I like boys,’ and other phrases which I felt was inappropriate for my young daughter. What surprised us was that they were selling out. I didn’t want my daughter wearing clothes like this, so Lois and I decided to make her clothing to wear instead.
We wanted to create clothing for other parents who do not want just to follow trends and still have their children looking good. We want to present another option and show parents that your kids can look amazing without taking away their innocence.
We have noticed an instant change about the kids that tried on our clothing. They felt differently about themselves – the way the boys would stand up straight, genuinely smile from ear to ear and the way the girls would spin around in their dresses feeling like princesses. That’s how we want all children to feel when wearing our clothing. It’s all about protecting their innocence, making them feel confident & amazing, and parents knowing that they have purchased quality-made items of clothing.
What has been your highlight since you’ve started?
Daphne: It has to be Angola fashion week, we met established designers from all over the world – Ghana, Zimbabwe being a couple to mention. It was an eye-opener for us; it was a privilege to be in that setting as it was our first ever fashion show, so we learned so much.
It was an all-expenses-paid trip too, which made it extra special, plus we were the only kids clothing brand there. Big lessons were learned. Our muse Rhianna fell extremely ill on the trip, but luckily enough one of our model’s parent is a doctor and was able to cater for her on the day of the runway show, so Lois had to manage the show while I looked after my daughter.
The show didn’t go as smoothly as we would have wanted it to, but we gained so much knowledge from that experience.
Lois: My favourite show was Barcelona, from the Angola fashion week experience, we were able to prepare a lot better. Doing simple things like getting there early and being settled into our hotel made a huge difference. However, on the day of arrival we had some small issues with the models but other than that, the show went well!
Daphne: Fashion shows are a unique experience as the way your brand is portrayed all down to the organiser, so you have to be really careful your brand image is not compromised, which was another major lesson learned. You can easily lose yourself, so you have to remain grounded and listen to your gut feeling. What always sounds like a great opportunity does not always necessitate into something prosperous.
What does success mean to you, and your business?
Daphne: We want our clothing to be available worldwide and for our customers to receive a consistently high-quality service at all times. We want to know that our clients from London, can go to our shop in Finland and receive the same high standard of service, including quality of the product as they would back in London. We also want to take over the African market and establish ourselves there.
What does that mean for Aisu ‘London’?
Daphne – I plan to live in Uganda next year and launch Aisu London there. We want to establish a clothing brand that cares for our kids’ well-being; offering high-quality items, which is “reportedly” not offered in Africa.
I want to take advantage of the African market, particularly our homeland, as we feel there is a space in which we can make a name and be a household name for a brand that specialises in children’s products. There are a lot of inferior products being sold, and we want to change that, with the quality of fabrics used and the way they are stitched and packaged as a product. We want our customers to be satisfied and also to be aware of the fact that they have purchased well-made quality items, which preserves the innocence and inner beauty of our children.
If you would like to show support and purchase exquisite summer garments – Aisu London currently have a pop store at the Prince’s Trust store up until 28th August, located at 9 Eldon Street, London, EC2M 7LS Monday to Friday – 10 am to 7 pm. The closest train station is Liverpool Street station.
Subjects – Aisu London
Photographer & Writer – Kofi Dwaah
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