New York - From art to activism, a successful label can be a platform for so much more than chic clothes. This is a fact that American designer Rachel Roy knows all too well. The contemporary designer known for easy, elegant pieces for the modern woman routinely uses hers to shine a light on social causes. In the last few years, she’s designed special edition items which were sold to benefit natural disaster victims in Japan and in China. This year, she’s turned her gaze on the continent, specifically Ghana, which she visited in 2009 as a guest of the United Nations. Roy has partnered with her dear friend, Lisa Lovatt, founder of OrphanAid Africa, a charity focused on helping displaced children in Ghana. For this partnership, Roy created a Batik print inspired clutch emblazoned with her personal motto: ‘Kindess is Always Fashionable’. The clutch, which is currently available for $49 and proceeds will go towards OrphanAid. We caught up with Roy at a private preview to benefit the charity and celebrate her clutch. From her love of Ghanaian people to her passion for charity, see what the designer exclusively said to us.
Africa Style Daily: You must have your pick of countries you could have worked with for a charity project. Why Ghana?
Rachel Roy: Well my friend Margherita Missoni introduced me to an orphanage that she and her mother have been close to for about six or seven years. She suggested that I go, so I took her up on her offer. I took my daughter who was twelve at the time with me and it’s one of the best things I could have done as a parent. I’ll explain what I mean by that. On a cellular level, it’s easier for children to run up to each other than to adults – so my daughter met a lot of children. They pulled her around and played with her and she developed some friendships. So today whenever she’s feeling a little sorry for herself – like children do – I remind her, what do you think Calvin is doing? Do you think Calvin has his choice of where he wants to go, or what he wants to it, or where he wants to sleep? That instantly puts her in appreciation moves. And I don’t have to go to some of the lengths that others go to – parenting wise – because of that trip.
ASD: As a designer, creating a piece was the obvious choice. But did you ever want to give back to Ghana and OrphanAid in a different way?
RR:I’ve been working with OrphanAid since I went to Ghana, but I wanted to think of something that I could sell with proceeds going to the orphanage. I guess what I want to do is show that you don’t have to do anything that’s uncomfortable or difficult in serving others. You just have to pick what you are good at. You don’t have to public speak if you are not a public speaker. You don’t have to ask for donations. Those aren’t what I’m good at. What I’m good at is making things I love. So it’s easy to do the manufacturing things. I have the capabilities, I have the factories. I don’t think God expects anything from us besides the things we are good at.