Asata Maisé-A Reintroduction
Thank you for taking the time to consider my work, thoughts, and feelings.
My given name is Asata Maisé (pronounced mah-zay). I prefer not to use or share my last name. I currently have a work/live space in my hometown of Wilmington, Delaware. I’ve been sewing and designing for about 13 years. It’s what brings me the most joy. I began making my own clothes when I was 15. A year later, I was selling custom dresses to friends and participating in local fashion shows. Deadstock or secondhand textiles and notions have been implemented into my work since 2016. I created my first patchwork piece in 2017. I've had an ample share of press this year. My favorite interviews were with The Cut and Black Cherry Magazine. Feel free to read them to gain insight about my experience as a designer in the past 10 years.
Until this year, I had a local and underground-like following. Only a few knew my work. My friends and family, people I connected with while in LA and London, and Depop shoppers looking to shake up their wardrobe. These people supported me and helped build the foundation I have today. For years, I struggled to make ends meet with my handmade garments alone. I almost always worked a job and sewing was something I did "on the side." That all changed when my work was featured in Vogue's Black-Owned Fashion and Beauty Brands to Support Now and Always in June of this year. In a matter of hours, I gained hundreds of followers on IG and sold out of each piece offered on my online shop. Two weeks later, I was chosen as one of Halsey's Black Creators Funding Initiative recipients. The followers poured in by the thousands. All of this occurred while I was living with my family in a humble home in Delaware City. I was soon overwhelmed by DMs, emails, and comments requesting more of the now irresistible baguette bags, bucket hats, and terry cloth anything. My friend of 15 years, Steveyette, saw that I needed serious help. Together we began to tackle the nuances of running a popular brand.
Since July, I have moved into my first studio space, released and sold out two drops (the Summer Sample Sale and the Terry Cloth Capsule Collection), spoke on a panel, had a photoshoot with Joshua Kissi, did a Marie Claire Instagram takeover, had more interviews, and was featured in the September issues of Cosmopolitan and Vogue Magazine.
New challenges began arising as well. I've had to chase invoice fulfillments, one of my patchwork bags was lost, another was damaged, and the emails don't seem to end. I've often overextended myself rarely receiving the same reciprocity from the editors, writers, and stylists who "love" what I'm doing. The demand for more Asata Maisé grows each day. The projects I wanted to do were being put on hold to make the things that sell. I soon realized I was putting on an Internet facade. My main Instagram looked completely different than my finsta and Tumblr accounts. My authenticity was muffled within the commotion.
Late last night, I was doing my usual nostalgic photo browse and I had an epiphany. It was the first time I saw myself from a loving perspective rather than one of criticism. I saw innovation, beauty, and raw talent. At that moment I made a promise to myself not to lose the core of who I am and to allow outdated traits to fall to the wayside with grace. As I am no longer capable of meeting the customer demand by myself, the topic of manufacturing surfaced. In addition, there are countless opportunities that I'm forced to decline each week. Although profit and recognition are certain outcomes of expanding through manufacturing, I'd surely be sacrificing my authenticity. The ethos of what I do is to share myself authentically and sustainably to inspire others to do the same.
The way the fashion industry operates is not sustainable. Inevitably, I started to question if this is something I wish to be apart of. The short answer is: I have no desire to be just another brand greenwashing its way to monetary gain or to participate in anything without true substance. Moving forward, I intend to create space and resources for all those seeking to grow and express love through creative pursuits. I hope that sharing my experience sparks conversation and action towards creating a new reality.