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Driving Forces: How Studio 189 Connects Women Across Borders | Presented by Uber

We met up with Abrima Erwiah and Rosario Dawson, the women behind the label Studio 189, to see how Uber is helping grow their social enterprise.

Sponsored content from Uber

Driving Forces is a video series profiling young creative people who are empowering their communities. We've partnered with Uber to highlight the stories of influential women entrepreneurs whose work brings underrepresented voices to the forefront. Read more about how Uber is supporting women in entrepreneurship here.

Not too many fashion brands are built explicitly on the idea of interconnectedness. Studio 189, the label founded by Abrima Erwiah and Rosario Dawson, is different. For one, it's a social enterprise that does more than just produce beautiful clothing. They also work with different groups on projects that use fashion to create positive change in the world.


"Our whole mission is essentially to create this kind of interconnectedness" says Erwiah. "We're thinking about 50 or a 100 years from now, what the world is going to look like. And you can't think about that without questioning how something is made."

Dawson and Erwiah met as teenagers and kept in touch as their careers grew—Dawson's in acting and Erwiah's in fashion. Now they're entrepreneurs united in their desire to work with women. Studio 189 is able to connect clothing produced in Ghana by local women to consumers globally while empowering African communities.

It's these values that they put into their clothes. "We work with people right next door and it's love," says Erwiah. "You meet somebody, you get there, they say you're welcome—'Akwaaba.' If someone's eating they share their food with you. It's very beautiful. We believe this has to be at the crux of what we do."

It's the powerful women in their lives that Dawson credits as their inspiration. "We're go-getters and hustlers," she says. Their constant moving around means that the pair often discusses their ideas on-the-go. It's in the back of an Uber, whether they're headed to a panel in New York or to meet tailors in Accra, Ghana that they find time to connect and to dream. Uber is a part of the underlying infrastructure that allows the Studio 189 team, and many others around the world, to make plans happen and turn their ambitions into reality, one ride at a time.

"When I request a ride in Nigeria or other places it's because...they command a better level of service," say Erwiah. By being able to depend on Uber to get them where they need to be, Erwiah and Dawson can focus on what makes their business such a transformative force.

"A huge part of what our company is," says Dawson, "is to transform our relationship to the planet, our relationship to each other, our relationship to consumption—to be aware and grow from our abundance."

Director: B.Monét

Producer: Ayana Barber

Producer: Oyinkan Olojede

Editor: Darnell Stalworth

Director Of Photography: Eun-ah Lee

Sound: Ley Comas

Production Assistant: Raginee Nath

Photo courtesy of Kunjina

Spotlight: Ethiopian Brand Kunjina Is On a Fashion Metamorphosis

Founder and creative director Kunjina Tesfaye speaks on her namesake brand, and how her personal evolution manifests through the unique garments.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists, and more who are producing vibrant, original work.

In our latest piece, we spotlight Ethiopian fashion brand, Kunjina. The Addis Ababa based label focuses on ready-to-wear fashion and empowering woman through their garments and designs. Creator Kunjina Tesfaye established the brand in 2017 in her home country Ethiopia, and has since shared her distinctive designs with the world. Each garment acts as a physical embodiment of Kunjina's life experiences, and the stages we all go through to become closer to ourselves. "When the work comes from a personal place, it portrays a true feeling therefore the output becomes Authentic", the young designer says on the website. Each garment is carefully and intentionally created, as the company prides themselves on their choice to reduce unnecessary waste -- often times what happens with brands focused on trends.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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(YouTube)

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Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Photo: La Fédération de la Haute Couture

Lukhanyo Mdingi on Making his Paris Fashion Week Debut

We talked to the South African designer who, after co-winning the LMVH Prize last year, showcased his Bodyland Autumn/Winter 22-23 collection in Paris earlier this month.

In 2015, South African designer Lukhanyo Mdingi founded his eponymous label. Inspired by his mother and grandmother who raised him, Mdingi has created a formidable brand that is centered on building a bridge between heritage and timeless fashion pieces. Since the brand’s inception, Mdingi has made great strides in fashion, from his NYFW debut in 2019 to being crowned a joint winner of the 2021 LVMH Karl Lagerfeld Prize.

This year, Mdingi took his vision of Africa to France’s fashion capital, Paris, where he made his Bodyland Autumn/Winter 22-23 debut for the Paris Fashion Week Menswear Collection. Being the first designer on the program schedule to present, Mdingi showcased a collection that spoke of the relationship he shares with himself and the artisans he collaborates with. For the past two years, Mdingi has been working to source his woven textiles and knitwear from crafts communities in Burkina Faso, Somalia, and the Eastern Cape, and the collection featured textural and sartorial nuances paying homage to his being a young Black creative.

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