Mum & Co.

I first discovered Mum & Co. through very lovely Two Son – the Nashville boutique partially owned by James of Bleubird, which is a delight in itself.

Mum & Co.'s bags are mostly nubuck, suede, and velvet – simple, with oversized shapes. I fell hard and fast for them, and am seriously considering grabbing a Shoulder Bag. It's kind of like an elegant, thoughtful take on an everyday tote bag. And I'm obsessed.

Here's a glimpse of a few of Mum & Co.'s styles, to give you an idea of their greatness: 

A A K S SS16

About a year ago, I profiled my friend Akosua for a Behind The Scenes piece on her line A A K S.

It's one of my favorite posts to date, mainly because of Akosua's insane talent that extends far beyond her bag designs and into her work as a photographer and all around awesome content curator. Don't believe me? Check out her gorgeous Instagram feed.

When Akosua relaunched her site a few weeks back, I knew I had to both share the imagery and get a closer look myself at the new raffia bags featured in her SS16 collection. Aren't they gorgeous?

Behind The Scenes With A A K S

Today's Behind The Scenes is a total treat. 

Akosua Afriyie-Kumi, designer of A A K S, is giving us a look at the handbag line's production on her family farm in Ghana.

I came to know Akosua's work after finding her through DesignGood. Once I gave A A K S a closer look I was completely smitten – that product photography! Those colors! The Instagram feed

I had to get to know the gal behind the line and I'm so glad I did. We've shared thoughts on London, bonded over "Americanah", and I'm hoping you'll love her work as much as I do.

Gals and gents, this is Behind The Scenes with A A K S:

Let's start here: You'll soon be able to tell that Akosua is a photographer. A really good photographer.

Based in Ghana, she spends a lot of time traveling around and taking photos. On these photography trips, Akosua's bought a lot of basket bags for friends and family– you know these bags. They're cute, make great gifts, but aren't the most practical for everyday use – especially if you're a stylish girl with places to go and a camera to carry.

Akosua decided that she wanted something that had the same look of a basket bag but would travel easily and was foldable, kind of like a leather bag would be. 

Commence research and sourcing phase of production:

"I settled on raffia after reading about fibers. It was the most difficult fiber to find in Ghana. I traveled throughout the country then found it serendipitously on our family farm in Southern Ghana. The softness and strength was key. I started looking into its benefits such as the fact that it's an organic, natural fiber which is renewal and biodegradable. The quality and inherent ethical values is very much in line with the vision and ethos I had for my brand from day one."

Producing the bags on a local level – literally on her family's farm – was super important to Akosua. Aside from the positive environmental aspects of keeping production close to home, there was something else she was eager to showcase – the work of local Ghanaian artists:

"I wanted to show another side of Ghana and show what the country can offer in terms of ideas and skill set which can compete on an international level. I want to show that we have a lot to offer in terms of using traditional methods and modernizing them to become something fresh and new. It's time for African fashion to be on the map for quality work." 

Well, you've got our attention – that's for sure.

Behind The Scenes With AAKS | Second Floor Flat

The design process is a collaborative effort between Akosua and her weavers. It takes weeks of hard work and incredible attention to detail, and to craft:

"I'm an avid sunset photographer so I normally pick hues from pictures I've taken. I draw my bag designs from photographs, historical and contemporary fine art, fashion photography, and architecture."

"After drawing and deciding on a set of ideas, I take my design sheets with spec measurements, colorways, and finishes to my weavers where I brief them about my inspirations and ideas for the season. The weavers bring their technical ideas and thoughts of how each bag should be executed. We  begin by twisting the raffia and dyeing the strands with organically certified dyes that dry in the open sunshine. Preparation normally takes three to four weeks before weaving can begin. 

Weavers then start making three dimensional l shapes of my designs, followed by samples. I bring the samples to my studio – a 12 hour drive from the weaving community – and start putting together finishing touches like linings, trims, labels, leather handles, and buckles. I go through each piece to approve quality, and then I pick the final pieces." 

The one thing she wants people to know about her line:

"I would love people to see A A K S as a signature style of bags that will be around for a long time, and to see the creative work making a positive impact in Ghana and around the world."

Just for fun: 

What's one book everyone should read?

"Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' – it's the funniest and the most well-written book I have ever read. It spoke directly to me. "


If you weren't living in Ghana, where would you live?

"Somewhere exotic. Probably on an island with unbelievable sunsets and beaches."


Shop A A K S here (email Akosua to place an order)

Learn more about the A A K S philosophy here

Follow Akosua here, here, here 

Thanks to Akosua for her time and for her incredible work, and thank you for going Behind The Scenes!

Designer Bio: Mansur Gavriel

Once in a while, a brand comes along that stops you in your tracks. Mansur Gavriel (not Monsieur Gavrel, or Manser Gavril or any of the 10 other things I revert to when I try to spell the name properly) is a handbag line designed out of beloved New York, had that effect.

Just look at that smooth leather, perfect coloring, perfect contrast, clear photography, and A+ branding. Man alive, we're in trouble.

The leathers used in the bags, satchels, wallets, and cases are all produced by a company in Tuscany, and Mansur Gavriel works with another Italian company to craft the crazy great and colorful interiors.

Another bonus about these bags? There's a great story behind them.

Designers Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel met at a concert in 2010 and quickly learned they shared the same dream of designing their own line. From there, the gals travelled back and forth between Rachel's home in LA and Floriana's home in Berlin, eventually meeting halfway in New York where Mansur Gavriel was born. Just two gals following their dreams, designing the Best Bag Ever.

If for some reason you need more convincing, check out their other gorg styles and color combos here. Lawd help me.