It’s rush hour in Toronto and as expected Bloor Street West is busy. Escape from the chaos is found in a nearby coffee shop. Relieved to be off my feet, I make myself comfortable and glance outside. I have an excellent view and watch the usual hustle and bustle. I can’t get too distracted though, I have to keep my eye out for Desiree Marshall.
Within a few minutes I spot her zooming along, steering her bike with an eloquence I can’t help but admire. We’re meeting again for the first time. A mutual friend introduced us a few weeks ago and after visiting her website I wanted to learn more about her apparel company Afrodelik Designs.
Founded in 2006 by Toronto artist Desiree Marshall, Afrodelik Designs celebrates black culture by producing rich, funky, hand drawn Afrocentric art collections for clothing for men, women and kids as well as accessories, offering 3 distinct collections:
Afro City: A throwback of the blaxploitation movies of the 1970s.
Miss Foxy T-Shirt
Afrika: An inspirational dedication to various tribes of the African Diaspora.
Nuba – Mens T-Shirt
Ikons: Various trendsetters and community leaders in music, politics and thought. Images include hand drawn renditions of Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley. New to the line is a dedication to the hope and inspiration brought by the President of the United States, Barack Obama.
Jimi – Womens T-Shirt
Afrodelik collections have been described as unique, bold, urban and inspirational and international celebrities such as P. Diddy, Erykah Badu, Alicia Keys and singer Jully Black own Afrodelik shirts.
I invited Desiree to join me for a chill out session. What was supposed to have lasted 15 minutes turned into an hour as we connected immediately and had a heartfelt, sisterly exchange of inspiration and aspirations. Check out Desiree’s thoughts on Afrodelik Designs and being a successful business woman.
What was the inspiration behind Afrodelik Designs? I grew up in the 70s and just love the era. It was funky, bold and afrocentric. Afrodelik started from watching my brother draw while I was a teenager and I loved it. Drawing became my passion. It was always in the back of mind and was a part of me and my life. I found I was most at peace when I was drawing. In 2006 I had just lost my job and it was the perfect opportunity to start my business. I took a government program for entrepreneurs, which I found informative. You definitely don’t know what starting a business is all about until you do it.
Who inspires you? People: having a good support system is important. My customers and my husband: he’s a businessman and shares his expertise. With my goals, I have to either achieve them or at least go for it.
What advice would you give women starting her own business? Keep believing in yourself. Don’t listen to the naysayers, keep doing what you do. It’s wonderful to be passionate. Follow it. Know that you may have ups and downs so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Being selfish is okay. Make your friend your business. Be committed. Don’t listen to negative people. Don’t be naive: look at your business as a business and do your research. One book I recommend is ‘The E-Myth by Michael Gerber.’
Also, networking is extremely important in letting people know about your business. We’re all given gifts we need to explore and honour. Don’t take it too seriously. Have fun…seriously! :-)
What do you wish you knew then, that you know now? I wish I was shown the logistics of owning a business when I first started. It’s important to be aware of all aspects of what it means to be an entrepreneur. Again, do your research and don’t forget to ask for help.
What’s next for Afrodelik Designs? In a deep voice she says, “Bigger and better things!” When I ask her for details, she’ll only reveal this, “Look out for some new designs and new products this summer.”
Where can people get an Afrodelik piece? They can visit our online store. We’ll be at Afrofest (Queen’s Park), July 11th to July 12th from 11am to 10pm, and AFRIVILLAGE (between Christie & Ossington on Bloor), August 29-30th from 11am-9pm. For more information visit our website: www.afrodelik.com.
Sometimes feeling empowered is as simple as putting on t-shirt. In an Afrodelik tee it’s easy to wear your soul on your sleeve, make a statement and represent who you are. I AM…Miss Foxy: Black, Beautiful, Confident, Sexy Honey from Afro City. A very smart sista with a heart of gold, and muscles of steel. She don’t take nuthin’ from no one. She’s one of the flyest sisters in Afro City. My mission: To be a soul doctor, by helping others achieve their soul status…one word at a time! Can you dig it?
To find out how you can wear your soul on your sleeve, visit www.afrodelik.com.