( ENSPIRE Fashion ) This Black Female Owned Fashion Brand Focuses on Creating Wearable Art
ENSPIRE Contributor: Cailin Tennis
Ivy Tettegah is a Ghanaian-born automation engineer based in Maryland who loves to design. She started the brand iLORM in 2020 along with her sister to positively impact the fashion industry and rectify the prime issues of neglect for artisans. iLORM creates wearable art that is rooted but unbound by the constraints of traditional Ghanaian design and gives back to the craftsmen and women who work tirelessly behind the beautiful seams and designs. Ivy’s passion is to create awareness through her brand iLORM and educate others on redefining today’s concept of luxury.
iLORM is a Black-female-owned brand to create timeless apparel that has a purpose in our ever-changing world. Inspired by their love and pride in Ghanaian culture, iLORM focuses on creating wearable art that is meticulously constructed to elevate kente; a handwoven textile made in Ghana by traditional weavers complemented by other ethically sourced fabric, redefining luxury in simple artistry.
ENSPIRE was grateful for the opportunity to speak with Ivy and discuss her upbringing, inspiration, and success in her entrepreneurial journey.
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and lived my childhood years in Tema, a small metropolitan seaport in Ghana off the west coast of Africa. We grew up poor but happy. My mother, who was minimally educated, was determined to provide the best opportunities for her 2 daughters to achieve heights that she never dreamed of or dared to. Most of my memories were fun and feeling protected, knowing things would be better and dreams were achievable if one worked very hard.
How does your automation engineering background fit into your fashion business?
Interestingly, I find more commonalities and fewer differences between fashion and technology. In both careers, the core value is to create or design a product to help others. In both fields, there is an expression of art, one in code and the other in seams. As I grew up, I always maintained fashion was a science. Hence, I never felt a transition from engineering to fashion; rather, they are complementary.
Functionality, structure, and fit definition play a huge role when it comes to our design process. Our customers are the end users and we focus on engineering designs to enhance complimentary lines. This means that the design ensures the fit complements the various silhouettes of men and women of different forms and sizes. We focus on both aesthetics and comfort. Also, in our design and development process, we implement methodologies that are efficient, sustainable, and expressive.
How does your Ghanaian heritage influence your designs?
Like its culture, Ghanaian fashion is vibrant, eclectic, graphic, and flamboyant. The inherent joyfulness and richness in color are ever present in all our collections. However, we prefer a minimalist approach in our designs. We focus on structure, clean lines, and deconstruction of traditionally made fabrics. This creates fashion-forward pieces that blur the lines between trendy and classic. The juxtaposition of the vibrant aesthetic to our minimalist approach helps us create some truly unique pieces that have a quintessentially Ghanaian essence. They are neither defined nor confined by this element.
What constitutes wearable art, and what is the intention behind it?
Wearable art can be defined as art pieces in the shape of clothing or jewelry. These pieces are usually handmade and produced in limited amounts with traditionally made materials. At iLORM, we think of wearable art as pieces of clothing made by artisans using traditionally made fabrics and techniques to create lasting and valuable apparel.
What are some future goals you have for your brand?
There are 4 main goals for the brand. First, grow our core audience. Second, become a recognizable global fashion brand known for our use of authentic traditional Ghanaian fabrics and techniques. Third, continue to improve our designs and production capacity by collaborating with other designers and artists to create truly impactful pieces. Finally, create a lasting positive impact on our community both in the states and in Ghana, through our philanthropic contributions as well as creating job opportunities.
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs who hope to create brands they care about?
Finding a greater purpose than just financial growth is fundamental to thriving. The business arena is competitive and brutal, yet rewarding. I find that a purpose or mission that genuinely pursues the good of people and the community instills great discipline to press on.
After hearing from Ivy’s extensive experience, she is redefining fashion in a cultural and scientific context. Her designs and entrepreneurial spirit are admirable and creative and are all driven by a meaningful purpose. ENSPIRE is excited to follow Ivy’s inevitable success as she creates wearable sustainable art. Follow her journey by checking out her Instagram page.