At first glance when you look at Voilà Apparel designs, you fall in love with the modern touch and hint of African print that the beautiful creations encompass. What you don’t know is that there’s so much more to these designs than just what you see. Lysa had the opportunity to sit down with the lovely and passionate Lula Fa, the founder, CEO and Designer of Voilà.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
This is a quite easy question but which I have never managed to answer. Instead I’ll take you through this quote from John Burrough which defines me well. ‘’I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.’’
My typical day would be spent between taking care of my husband and my newborn, going to the Office, working on my brand and trying to manage my different businesses. I am 27 years old, and an unconditional lover of my family, travelling, dancing, playing board games, and shopping.
Enlighten us on what is Voilà Apparel?
Originally “Voilà” is a French word, now a universal term, that means ‘Look there! It is used when showing other people something that you have just made or got and are pleased with. You can use it to call attention, to express satisfaction or to suggest an appearance as if by magic. The process of having my first designs made here in Kenya was long and challenging as I am a very demanding and detail-oriented person. When I finally got the perfect piece from my tailors, I just happily shouted ‘VOILA!!’ And that was it!
What inspired the creation of Voilà?
The duality of my culture. I wanted to wear a line that reflects my dual identity and my personality. A modern and proud Afro-pean woman who likes not only occidental styles and the beauty and nobleness of African fabrics but also being able to wear both at the same time.
The brand has recently launched, 4 months now. What has been the general feedback towards the fashion line?
Our customers and retailers, bless them, have been giving us excellent feedback. Our designs are simple, yet unique and sophisticated and that is why people love them. We believe, like Leonardo da Vinci that ‘’Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’’. We have been also receiving very good feedback regarding the quality of our outfits, our delivery service and our customer care service.
Did I mention that we now do all standard sizes? Our outfits are available from XS to XL. Many of our dresses from our SS 2017 collection also perfectly fit pregnant women as I was pregnant at that time (from one month to nine months). Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
The designs created are no doubt amazing, but what is the inspiration towards Voilà creations?
Thanks a lot. Voilà designs are inspired by the modern, strong and versatile woman. My collections use bold details, patterns, prints and shapes which I hope, promote a positive narrative about Africa.
Where can people shop Voilà?
Our outfits can be found in;
- Westgate, Valley Arcade and Garden City in Republi.ke stores
- Two Rivers with The Designers Studio
- Hub Karen Mall with The Urban African Lifestyle Company.
- Junction Mall with Pink Skink.
We are also proud to be stocking at the Designing Africa Collective by Diana Opoti at the Village Market. All shops are owned by young, talented and visionary women whom I personally admire and have the pleasure of working with. Also, despite the fact that only 20% of our designs are shown on social media, many of our customers are now ordering via Instagram.
What is the one thing that sets apart Voilà Apparel from other fashion houses?
Without wishing to appear pompous, Voilà Apparel is distinct from the other fashion houses on many aspects. Here are few examples.
First, Voilà has a well-defined, easily recognized style. This stems from the ability to blend modern styles with the beauty, timelessness and nobleness of African prints.
Second, our clothing line values simple things; yet sophisticated and unique designs. Just because they do all the things we need easily and none of the things we don’t. Simplicity is harmonious. The perfect simplicity of every single of our outfits conceals love, precious painstaking care for details and impeccable workmanship.
Moreover, Voilà was founded with the goal of offering the modern working woman the best fitting dress or outfit she’s ever worn to the office ((whatever that ‘office’ is) and afterwards (wherever the night may take her). The brand thus includes cleanly cut, comfortable and unique apparel that instantly transform from office wear to a playful uniform for after work revelry.
In addition, we are set apart in the way we try to promote a better Africa. My first years in Europe saw me shocked by the ‘kind’ questions or comments one could ask or give me about Africa. I’ve got some “For an African, your French is perfect’’, or ‘’Oh, you’re from Africa, do you know Maimouna? she’s from Madagascar’’. I found it critical to use every channel possible to dispel stereotypes about Africa. Every Voilà outfit you will be buying comes with a history fact about Africa, a fun fact or an African proverb.
For example, our customers are surprised to learn (thanks to their purchase) that Ethiopia is the only country in Africa with its own alphabet or that “Africa” derives from the Greek word aphrike. Phrike means cold and horror, when combined with the negating prefix a-, it means a land free of cold and horror. Did you know that? How cool ahh!
Being a relatively new brand, what has been the greatest achievement for the brand so far?
The fact that in a period of two months, we were stocking the major retailers of the country and are present in the main malls of the city make us proud. Of course, its not only being present, it’s about selling as well. In addition, we are extremely happy with the sales so far. Many thanks to our customers.
What is the future for Voilà Apparel?
Ha. On the short term, I really really want to meet the immediate growing demand from our retailers. The end of year is an intense season for us and we are extremely busy and happy.
It would also be great to finish building my next collection, a kind of Back to School collection I am planning to launch in January.
On the long term, we are coveting the African marketplace. An American company recently approached us with a request to stock them. How cool!
What societal rules and cultural impacts have been fostered into the brand?
Voilà is an ethical fashion. That means inter alia that we provide fair wages to our tailors. We source sustainable fabrics and we don’t use any fabric resulting from the exploitation of animals. I mean leather is beautiful, but we can not guarantee that the animals did not suffer to provide this clutch or this bag, etc…
Voila Apparel is all about giving back to the community. Give us more insight into this?
It is all about being ethical as elaborated earlier. But also, every year we support a small social project. We recently provided financial and technical support to a project aiming at providing sanitary pads to young girls in slums. Buying Voilà is not only getting a dress. It is so much more and our customers are more and more aware of that thanks to direct engagement with them and through platforms like Lysa magazine.