(Images by Kennedy)
As little girls, probably more of us than not watched our mothers in awe, as they slipped into their pantyhose and spritzed on their favorite fragrance. We dreamed of the day when we too could strut in a pair of high heels and dash off to swanky affairs. Our mothers were heroes, and we wanted to be them.
Alexandria Alli is no different than the rest of us. The designer grew up in Lagos, Nigeria watching her mother create fashions in her design studio. She witnessed style blossom in front of her eyes until one day she was old enough to mimic her mother and birth her own creations. Today, the 32-year-old beauty is the visionary behind F&W Style—a luxury leather handbag label. Alexandria has a design studio—just like Mom—in Atlanta, and her bags are sold online and in stores all over the country. Singer and fashionista Christina Milian, Broadway star NeNe Leakes and RHOA diva Porsha Williams have all been spotted carrying the leather goods.
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Impressed by the quality, style and new spring collection, BlackEnterprise.com talked F&W Style and business with Alexandria. Keep reading to see what she had to say, plus check out the collection on the following pages.
As a designer, what prompted your passion for handbags?
I am a second generation designer. Growing up my mom owned a design studio in Lagos, Nigeria. When we moved to the states, I started my modeling career. I fell in love with all the luxurious pieces I got to model, especially handbags. But I soon realized that a lot of the luxury handbags I modeled were unattainable for most women, including myself. In 2010, I decided to change that and create well-crafted luxury leather handbags at an attainable price for all women.
Genuine leather is an expensive material. As a businesswoman, why did you choose to invest in it versus a more cost-efficient material?
Well, I like luxury items. I wanted to stick to an area I love and have a passion for. I want every girl that has an F&W bag to feel that they are getting the best. That’s why we focus on everything from our packaging, to leather selection, to delivery.
What do the letters “F” and “W” stand for and how did they inspire the name?
F&W Style stands for Fred, my husband’s name, and Wunmi, my Nigerian name. When my husband and I first started dating, we would wear fashionable outfits that complemented each other’s to events and parties. It was something that we were known for, and people started calling it “F&W Style”. When we started our company, it just felt like a natural progression.
What steps have you taken to market F&W Style?
I market F&W Style by partnering with agents who get us into boutiques, building relationships with editors, partnering with bloggers, engaging with clients through social media, participating in fashion events, partnering with charities, and most of all, following up with current clients.
How does your label stand out from other luxury labels?
What makes us stand out from other companies is that we are not just selling handbags; we are selling the experience. Everything from our packing, to the quality of the bags, to our signature hot pink lining and our customer service sets us apart.
What do you envision for F&W Style seven years from now?
In seven years I see F&W Style being a household name like DVF or Kate Spade.
Follow F&W Style: @fwstyle, @fwstylebags, F&W Style. Get into the F&W Style Spring/Summer ’15 collection on the next pages.