As a seasoned fashion editor, Danielle Kwateng-Clark knows a thing or two about style. But though the fashion world may be full of glitz and glamour, it is severely lacking in opportunities for African-American designers to showcase their work to the masses.
And because Kwateng-Clark witnessed this firsthand each day, she decided to do something about it.
With the launch of her brand The Volta River, she retails apparel, accessories and apothecary from a curated list of brands who have strong cultural ties to their country of origin. Hailing from the likes of Haiti, Puerto Rico, Bangladesh, South Africa and America, these diverse designers will finally get their “seat at the table” to showcase their products to a new and emerging audience.
Get to know The Volta River through its founder, Danielle Kwateng-Clark.
What year were you founded?
May 2016, launched site in October.
What inspired you to launch your business?
After working in fashion for seven years as an editor, I grew tired of the lack of diversity. Knowing there are a ton of talented designers of color — who often don’t have access or funding to regularly produce work — I decided to create a platform for them. My favorite type of fashion is rooted in tradition and deep cultural ties, so The Volta only approaches talent who have a clear message through their work and love of their people. Our mission is not to exclude others but include by leveling the playing field.
What makes your brand/product unique?
The Volta is unique because we’re not about offering one collection solely designed by its owner. The intent of the site is to create a community of designers who share a similar goal and aesthetic. A common fallacy is that we’re just willing to sell from African talent, but our roster is made up of designers from throughout the diaspora from Bangladesh to right here in Brooklyn.
Why should everyone #buyblack this holiday season?
This holiday season and all year, it’s important to buy black because so much of our culture has been divested, packaged up, manufactured and sold — without us benefiting financially. Buying from black companies is about feeding our own and giving access through financial independence. In a nutshell: If we don’t help each other, no one will.
How do you pay it forward within your community?
Every year, The Volta gives a portion of sales to a community in need within the African diaspora. Because our name is derived from the Volta River in Ghana, for this first year, we’re donating goods to the Konadu Secondary School in Asamang, Ghana.
What is your business mantra?
Designers of color are not wayside contributors but pioneers of style. And #GetIntoIt, which is a fun throw-back way of saying shop and spread the word!