We all have wild dreams, stretching from climbing a mountain, to writing a book, or even opening a restaurant. Carmen Attikossie ’15 achieved one of her own; to own and run her own fashion line. Her line, CARTIK, features positively divine accessories ranging from necklaces to laptop cases to purses.
The interview began in the old coffee shop. Curious about how someone so young possessed such a drive to own their own business, I began with the obvious question: How did you start your company?
“I was abroad last year and, while I was there, my aunt that inspired me to do this. She is a fabric distributer– she buys fabric and has women who work for her, making things. They sell them in the market in Lomé, the capital city in my home country of Togo,” Attikossie said, sitting across from me on a comfortable couch, relaxed. “I went with her on one of her fabric runs, and just kept picking out fabrics. She said I had a really good eye for fabric, and that I should think about doing something with fabric.”
Attikossie’s aunt helped inspire her to begin designing, commissioning and selling accessories, giving her that initial encouragement to start her creative process.
Her designs had no collective start; every color and swatch combination came from Attikossie’s creative instinct. The beginning was spontaneous, and it shows in her designs. They are new and fresh, while still anchored in the needs of the modern woman. Aside from spontaneity, the designs and product ideas come from her own style, which includes a variety of bright, bright colors. She designs items that she would want to see herself and others wearing. She defines her style as ‘modern-African chic,’ saying that she wants everyone to embrace the bright and vibrant colors she uses in her products. Her products are made to go with a variety of personal styles, as Attikosie strives to make products that suit everyone. Pairing them with a t-shirt and jeans lends a sense of confidence to an outfit, or helps to match the exuberance of a cute dress when going out. Attikossie wants everyone to know that CARTIK is truly for anyone, and her target audience is any woman who likes bold, beautiful patterns.
“My creativity is a combination of taking something modern and twisting it and creating into something more afro-modern. My products are for everyone,and that’s why I tend to pick fabrics that people would feel comfortable with. It’s universal,” she said, smiling with a glow of ambition.
The process of making a product, like a purse, has many steps. First, Attikossie sketches out her design, then she sends it to the group of women in Togo, who then proceed to make her designs. She has to coordinate fabric orders, cost and yardage and shipments and customs all along the way in order to get her designs off the page and into her customer’s hands.
The future for CARTIK is open to a lot of possibilities. Attikossie is hoping to expand, but, to her, the future is wide open. She is always looking into new products to make for CARTIK, ranging from bow ties to clutch bags. Attikossie hopes to move forward and succeed with CARTIK, along with other endeavors in the international relations field. Who knows what’s next for this bright, beautiful line. Great things, if you ask me.
If you, like me, are dying to get your hands on a CARTIK bag, or anything else, Attikossie can be reached at email@example.com .