In a blogging class organized by our lovely friend Emilie from My Little Fashion Diary, during which we were invited as guest speakers, Djulia came to us with a lot of ambition and enthusiasm about her project. She wanted to launch a business about afro-inspired lifestyle & fashion with a modern, cutting-edge touch. However, she was a little lost in the technical development part. At that time, Kinlake was not even born yet, as David and I were working separately then. But after a while, she came back to us to discuss her project in details.
Around a coffee with the smell of baked cakes at Ready Coffeeshop, she explained how she would want her project to come to life, as a blog and an e-shop. We did get the chance to work on an e-shop before, but in a collaboration with a company, outsourcing the “technical” part and keeping only the design part to ourselves. It was a great experience. However, when you outsource work, especially in coding and developing, even though it makes things easier, the problem is that you can get lost and it’s not so easy to get the results that you want. It’s also not easy for us in the communication part, as we’re honestly more used to working in a small circle. So to make this more effective, our goal is to ideally be able to do as much as we can by ourselves.
Which is what we decided to do with her project, Afrolia. As we’re always quite open to face a challenge, we believed we could give this one a try and have it 100% homemade. Everything, from graphic identity, to website, to e-shop, made by the two of us only.
We started by working on her graphic identity. As her aim was to provide a new perspective on afro culture, we knew we’d have to find a good balance between african references and a modern touch. We got attracted by bold, afro color tones and textures when looking for inspiration. When you look for afro-inspired fashion and lifestyle, there’s seriously so much to absorb. When preparing a moodboard, it literally felt like revitalizing to the eye. So many bright colors, so many contrasts. So we felt that the Afrolia logo should definitely get a little bit of this boldness into it. So we tapped into “Strong, loud, yet minimal!”
The logo ended up functioning really well with the images that Djulia wanted to use, so even before we started working on her website, there was a strong graphic presence she could use, on her social media for example.
And then we started the big stuff: An e-shop is definitely not the easiest thing to do from scratch, there are so many things to consider. A very meticulously structured sitemap, complete payment and delivery options, data actualisation, and all the tricky knicknacks that you wouldn’t even bother to imagine. It’s fair to say that an e-shop is a far more complex than a simple website. I think a lot of people actually think it’s an easy thing to do, as it doesn’t “look” complicated, but as soon as they get their hands on it and see the crazy structure in the back, some can go silently mad. Yup, this is why there are people who specialize in that and only that, it’s not a piece of cake at all!
When it came to us, the deal was that Djulia would have to trust us to make it, and to eventually face some technical issues along the way. And boy, it was not easy although we learned a hell of a LOT. Wow. This is one of the primary reasons why we’re so grateful about this project. It opened a whole new door to us and our skills, helping us to push our limits.
It’s easy to say “hey, this is not my thing”, give it up and then assign someone else to do it, just because they are more specialized in it. But what fun is that? What would you learn from it? One of the most important pillars of our philosophy as a creative duo is to never be afraid of stepping out of our comfort zone, especially when it’s about projects that we like and have a good feeling with. We didn’t know anything about doing an e-shop. But with a lot of struggles, a lot of learning, some tension, some more trying out, and Djulia’s encouragement, we now know practically everything there’s to know about it, thanks to this project which came our way. Instead of pushing it away, we embraced it and let it teach us some things.
I guess that the way we did this project is the way we should do everything else in life. At least from time to time, stepping out of that comfort zone and daring to learn something new! Life’s too short not to.
For me, one of the greatest things we can be proud of, also, is that even though we faced some technical difficulties, there was not a single one of them we didn’t end up solving. Yep, even those that made us tear our hair! We bashed out every little problem that came our way and solved all of the little mysteries. We can now confidently say that we know our way around it, have reached the crowd of the e-shop savvy and would feel pretty confident if we’d have to do it all over again.
Check out the AFROLIA website here.