Afro-Scandinavian, Aya Afowa Efua Brace is a favourite of Ghana Rising. I’ve been wanting to interview this incredibly stylish young lady of Ghanaian and Finnish origin ever since I stumbled across her blog featuring starkly beautiful photographs of her in one fabulous outfit after another.
Ghana Rising then voted Aya as one of Ghana Rising’s 2010 Most Beautiful Women of Ghanaian Origin (http://ghanarising.blogspot.com/2010/04/most-beautiful-women-of-ghanaian-origin.html) -and recently, -one of the major ‘Movers and Shaker’ in Ghana Rising’s ‘People to Watch 2011’ (http://ghanarising.blogspot.com/2011/01/ghana-risings-people-to-watch-in-2011.html). A style Icon on the make, I find Aya inspirational and hope to work with her soon.
I finally managed to get an interview with Aya towards the end of last year and she didn’t disappoint, the following’s an insightful peak inside the life of a young fashionable lady embarking on the next phase of her life….enjoy x
GR: Thanks for the interview Aya, what are you up to right now?
AB: I graduated from High School in June and moved to London in September to study photography. Right now I'm back In Helsinki for Christmas to meet friends and family.
GR: Your blog’s very inspirational, you have such an eye for art and detail –what’s the inspiration behind it?
AB: I've always loved everything visual. I've experimented with my style as well. I use to paint and draw but I feel photography is the way I can best express myself. Sounds really cliché but its true. I actually started keeping my first blog in March 2008 when I had my mind wrapped around relationship issues and wanted to use my energy on something nicer. I also felt I wanted to share my photographs and opinions with other people. My blog started out as a fashion blog but these days its more like my visual diary..
GR: Why did you choose to write in your blog in English?
AB: I have always spoken English with my Dad but its has never been as strong as my Finnish. I attended a bilingual class for nine years -and when I went to an entirely Finnish school my English really deteriorated. I also feel that because my blog is not so much tied in place and time everyone should be able to read the little writing I do.
GR: Fashion or Art, –which has the biggest influence on your ‘day-to-day’ life?
AB: I think fashion and art walk hand in hand. This is why I love fashion photography because so often, -it combines the two.
GR: I love your style –how would you describe your look and what are you wearing right now?
AB: Oh! I love second-hand pieces with high street brands and generally what I can afford. I like simple outfits and love nail polish and lipstick as a detail. Currently I've been only wearing black, with a bit of red and white. Right now I'm wearing a black dress with black velvet leggins.
GR: You’re based in Helsinki, Finland –name your favourite hotspots for the following –and tell us why they hit the mark:
AB: Helsinki. I have a love hate relationship with this town. I'm not sure if everyplace in the following list is exactly a hotspot but:
GR: For the latest fashions:
AB: For the latest fashions: Ovvn shop clothes for Finnish designers, some amazing stuff. Monki and Weekday are Swedish stores always have something nice and interesting.
Part of Monki’s latest Collection -http://www.monki.com/GR: For the best food:
AB: For the best food: Cafe Bar 9 and Antiokia Atabar! Both places have the best prices for good food in town. Bar 9 is more chill and Antioka Bar is a Turkish restaurant with amazing food. Both places have a good service and atmosphere and I keep going back.
GR: For the best shoes:
AB: I usually buy shoes online and abroad. Check out Minna Parikka!
GR: For the hottest make-up:
AB: I buy Mac make-ups from department store Stockmann in the heart of the city. Good quality pays off.
GR: For the best girl’s night out:
AB: I don't really have nights out. I just [chill] with my girlfriends -but in general, I'm usually stuck hanging out in Siltanen and Nolla... comfortable ”stylish” places, -there’s always someone you know and you can get food from the kitchen. If you want to go dancing on a Friday or Saturday night, -I would recommend to go to Yk, Tavastia or Kuudes Linja. If you want to go and see a gig check out what’s on in Liberte, Nosturi and Tavastia
Hämeentie 13 B, Helsinki, Finland
Avoinna joka päivä 11–02
Open daily 11pm–2am
Puh./tel. Tel / tel. 0440 660 530
Ravintolapäällikkö/manager Richard McCormick, puh./tel. 0440 660 530
Restaurant Manager / Manager, Richard McCormick, tel / tel. 050 3020 586 050 3020 586
GR: Who’s your style icon?
AB: I have many style icons, especially bloggers including: girls from Anywho (http://www.anywho.dk/) and Eszter from (http://stylorectic.blogspot.com/).
Blogger Eszter from (http://stylorectic.blogspot.com/) is one of Aya's style icons
GR: Handbags or Shoes?
AB: SHOES. I don't really care for bags. Usually I'll just stuff my things in a worn out tote bag.
GR: Savoury or sweet?
AB: Savoury! I'll have cake or skittles every now and then but prefer the taste of kenkey, lemon etc.
The ‘Next Big Thing’ is?
AB: Red hair Hmm... In fashion I think we will see lots of monochrome outfits, simple and graphic cuts and 80's rock band inspired stuff.
Richard Nicoll S/S 2011’s chromatic fabulousness is Aya’s next big thing…
GR: Aya, you are of Ghanaian and Finnish heritage –can you tell us how this has shaped –and made you the person you are today?
AB: My Mum is Finnish and my Dad is Ghanaian. I was given Ghanaian names (Aya Efua). In my childhood always lived with both parents and there is quite a big Ghanaian community in Finland. I've been to Ghana quite a few times and I have family living over there. My Dad has thought me stuff about Ghana through every day life and I do believe it important to understand where you come from. I think having parents from two different cultures makes me extremely lucky; Not only language wise but I feel I have had a broader understanding of the world from a younger age.
GR: How easy is it to be a person of mixed heritage in Helsinki, Finland?
AB: Sometimes people ask you where you're from and sometimes I get served in English but otherwise its pretty normal. There has been some weird situations because of the fact that most mixed raced girls here feel comfortable relating to the hip hop culture. As a teenager I was more into the rock and punk scene. When I went to see Finnish artists like Hanoi Rocks or Pelle Miljoona it occurred to me that I was the only ”dark face” but it never bothered me because at the same time this scene was so much more accepting and liberal. Now in London its (of course) different and I love that I can just blend in but I find it funny when people find out I'm Finnish Ghanaian and they say ”how exotic”. I know a million girls just like me in Finland!
GR: Have you been to Ghana before –if not do you have plans to go?
AB: Yes I have been there 4 times now. I really want to go back as soon as I've got money for flights and time!
GR: What’s next for Aya Brace?
AB: Getting more grounded in London (that’s definitely where I want to stay), continuing my studies, working on my photography in order to become a successful photographer sooner or later and last but not least -I need to learn how to make fufu and groundnut soup!
GR: Thanks for this amazing interview beautiful, enjoy London and God Bless….xx
***For more information about the fabulous Aya Brace visit: http://ayabrace.blogspot.com/
(Credit: All photo courtesy of Aya Brace)