1. Who is Helena Aidoo-Morrison?
I am the last born of 5 and the founder and CEO of Aya Morrison LLC, a direct to consumer fashion company that designs, manufactures and sells womenswear apparel and swimwear, inspired by the rich culture of Ghana. I founded my company in 2008 when I returned from a spring break trip to Takoradi, Ghana where I realized the depth of my shared commonality with other women I encountered on that journey. This triggered my wish to build a community of women who empower each other. On this trip, I discovered my love for designing and creating fashion pieces to help women feel their best, when I couldn’t find a decent, comfortable bathing suit to wear to the beautiful beaches; nor could I find one decent boutique that had stylish, functional clothes to wear to hang out with my girlfriends or go out to enjoy the nightlife. And so I founded a company that had it all and that catered to and that empowered women. I am a determined, stubborn creative who never backs down from a decision once my mind is made up.
Originally from Ghana, I’ve 3 brothers and a sister. I went to boarding school for my High School in Ghana at Wesley Girls High School and then did my undergrad in Corporate Communications at CUNY Baruch College in New York. After my Masters in Luxury Fashion Management at SCAD, I went ahead and acquired my Real Estate license, and have since gone back to my Alma Mater, SCAD, to work as an Account Lead in the SCADpro department, while still managing everything fashion with Aya Morrison and everything real estate with selling homes.
I’m also a wanderlust and a foodie who loves to dance (although I really don’t think I can dance to save my life haha!). I enjoy a hot chocolate and a movie kind of night over going to the club these days.
2. How do you define fashion and or style?
Fashion, to me, has everything to do with the zeitgeist. Yes, fashion has to do with the spirit of the times; what’s in trend at a given time. Be it clothing, lifestyle, footwear, make-up, hairstyles, accessories and even people’s self expression, behaviors, feelings, mood, etc. that’s fashion.
Style, however, is timeless. It’s one’s unique way of expressing themselves, their mood, their aesthetic choices, etc. through the way they dress, relate to people and enjoy the world in general. It is heavily personal.
3. What influences your style? ie travel, work, movies, magazines, social media trends, celebrities, color, etc.
I’m a 80’s-90’s baby! So as far as my personal style goes, my adventurous travels and believe it or not, 90’s fashion deeply influence my style.
When it comes to my design(ing) style though, my culture influences my style a lot. Before I start designing I need to get in my zone. I draw a lot of inspiration from my background when trying to draw my creative energy to start designing. Growing up I had the pleasure of witnessing adowa dancers of the Ashanti region in Ghana dressed in their kente, adorned in gold jewelry and gold or fabric belts. This made me fall in love with belts and bold colors. Local Ghanaian food has always had so much color and texture and that has usually influenced my choice of fabrics and silhouettes to lean towards. The climate in Ghana and the visual landscapes influences “ntoma” prints, also known as African prints. I love to use prints as part of my style that inevitably pays homage to Ghana. Local Ghanaian music, called highlife and recently hiplife have always had this rhythm that sparks so much groovy shapes and contour details in my head. These elements have always stayed with me and they influence my design aesthetics, every aspect of my design process and by extension, my brand ethos.
I’m also influenced by other cultures I encounter during my travels and I find myself incorporating some aspects into certain collections every now and then.
4. How has your style evolved?
My personal style hasn’t evolved much. I still love my shoulder pads and occasional baggy pants look LOL. I’m that girl who can be on two extremes of style. I can do a very feminine full, sexy black dress with heels and then be a huge tomboy the very next minute. My design style however, has somewhat matured more than evolved, if at all. As I grow older, my design skills mature with me and get better. Well, I guess that can be termed evolution to an extent right? Haha!
5. What does your dream wardrobe consist of?
I have big feet. I wear size US10. It’s a wonder that I didn’t get into making shoes right? Who knows, maybe the entrepreneur in me might get into that some day. But my dream wardrobe will definitely consist of perfectly fitting size 10 shoes (heels, flats, etc) that I can dance in without pain, stylish belts in all colors, and every piece from every Aya Morrison collection since 2008, in my size, that I can still style today in multiple ways.
6. If you were to give fashion advice to your younger self what would it be?
Nothing! I probably would rather take advice from my younger self today. I was bold and colorful and earned the nickname “spicegirl” from my uncles and aunties. I do probably dress fashionably decently now but I miss my super bold younger self with my mini skirts, cinched waist with my “2 belts at a time” look and platform heels that could grind a corn to powder, lol.
7. How important is it to be body positive and to appreciate the skin that you're in?
It is extremely important! You only have one body and no one else will flaunt it for you but you so appreciate it, love it, enjoy it and take care of it.
But I’ll also throw a word of caution out there that you have to be discerning to yourself. If you’re getting unhealthily heavier/bigger and feel unhealthy, you should do something about it. Don’t mess up a healthy body in the name of “body positivity” and allow yourself to deteriorate. Take care of yourself.
8. What do you love about jewelry? What is your absolute favorite is it earrings, necklaces, etc.
My mother loves jewelry. Especially gold jewelry. Growing up, she’d adorn my sister and I in gold earrings, bracelets, necklaces and sometimes anklets all in gold. It’s a surprise she wasn’t a jeweler! I almost always, sadly, lost all my jewelry she gave me. I didn’t know how valuable they were. She’s always had a fine selection of enviable gold jewelry that I never understood the importance/value of until my young adulthood when I learned about gold prices and how people would buy expensive jewelry to connote very treasured occasions. This made me appreciate jewelry so much more and realized how blessed I was that as a kid, I was doused in pure gold riches without even realizing. And how I’ll do anything to have all that jewelry back today.
Anyway, because of this, I find that I’m more of a gold lover than a silver one. I love gold necklaces, rings and anklets - I don’t know why these 3 in particular but I do! I always tend to lose my earrings - terrible habit. And although I love rings, I tend to lose them quite often too. So I keep to simple pearl stud earrings that are easily replaceable if lost and wearing less and less rings lately (especially with the Covid era where I’ve to wash my hands so often). But I find necklaces to be so charming and classy. Anklets add that pizzazz to my look too. Those are my two current favs for sure.
9. How do you incorporate accessories and jewelry into your daily looks?
I’ve my current all-time favorite necklaces with my names on them that I wear daily. They’re, unfortunately, not real gold but 14k gold-plated so they go with all my outfits. Most often than not when you see me, you’ll see my gold accessories either on my neck or on my ankle. That’s definitely a signature look of mine in recent times.
10. What are your non-negotiables... What must you have / wear / do? and what are your, “I’m never ever doing or wearing that”?
I must have a good night’s sleep or I’ll be groggy all day. I must wear my gold name necklaces with a pair of earrings always or I’ll look too dull which I think affects my confidence. I must travel within every 4-6 months time frame (this should tell you my struggle throughout the pandemic). I can never and will never wear 4+ inch heels again. I will never drink coffee again - 100% a tea girl. I will never say no to good old 90’s fashion.
11. Tell us why you choose fashion and style. So what we mean by that is, we don’t have to dress up, we don’t have to adorn ourselves with jewels and embellish with accessories, but we do, we choose to… why do you?
There’s a feel-good factor when you look good. It boosts your ego and allows you to strut in confidence. Style is being unapologetically yourself so you can create your own looks however it best suits you. I choose style so that I can be unique with how I combine my prints, colors, textures and such! I choose fashion because times change and I want to look somewhat trendy with my own style.
12. What’s your favorite fashion/style quote or mantra?
My two absolute favs are the good ole:
“Always dress like you’re going to see your worst enemy.” – Kimora Lee
"Fashions fade, style is eternal” - Yves Saint Laurent
13. How and where can people connect with you?
Retail Store: www.shopayamorrison.com
Community Website: www.ayamorrison.com
Personal Instagram: @missmorrison_h
Business Instagram: @shop_ayamorrison or @ayamorrison_atelier
Email: email@example.com or Pr@ayamorrison
Helena, we're so glad we could learn more about you! Your personal style can definitely boost your confidence when you feel like yourself and you're comfortable. Thank you for sharing and for explaining your style so beautifully!