House of Aama is a culturally inspired lifestyle brand rooted in the ethos of the African continent and diaspora. The seed for House of Aama has been sowing for some time now and is manifesting in physical form due to the joint efforts of mother and daughter duo, Rebecca Henry and Akua Shabaka. Rebecca, the mother of the duo is an attorney in private practice by trade but artistically oriented in nature with sewing, quilting and art hobbies. Akua, the daughter of the duo is a 2019 graduate of Parsons The New School for Design in Manhattan, New York with a BBA in Strategic Design and Business Management. Akua was exposed early in life to her mom and dad’s entrepreneurial enterprises, artistic leanings and culturally based lifestyle (Akua’s dad, Jamaiel Shabaka is an avant garde jazz musician and drummer).
In 2013, Akua became so frustrated with her inability to find clothes resonating with her cultural and aesthetic interests that with the assistance of her mother, she began making her own clothes and modified vintage clothes in an effort to match her outer sartorial expression with her inner yearnings. Akua's friends became interested in her clothes and in response Rebecca and Akua began making simple items for sale, such as culturally adorned cut off shorts and t-shirts with African fabric sleeves.
Rebeca and Akua soon realized that a niche market existed for modern, contemporary cultural wares and thus House of Aama was founded. Soon thereafter, they began experimenting with original designs reflective of their individual and collective cultural influences. This experimentation led to the birth of the youth oriented Urban Nomad capsule collection. Urban Nomad was geared toward the modern savvy youth consumer who wished to identify with an African ethos and express this interest in clothing and lifestyle choices. In keeping with this African ethos, fabric and motif selections for the Urban Nomad collection drew from West African Ashanti, Ghanaian Kente Cloth and Adinkra symbols and East African Maasai, Kenyan tartan plaid fabrics.
House of Aama partnered with Senegalese artist, Bassirou Seck. Rebecca and Akua were motivated by a desire to form a relationship with African Artisans in the development of House of Aama products and also to provide a commercial platform for African wares. This collaborative project consisted of Unisex Men and Women’s shirts, pants and traditional woven Senegalese baskets. A portion of the proceeds were shared with the Senegalese Artist.
In 2015, House of Aama via its Urban Nomad collection also collaborated with a pop artist in a popular message laden t-shirt collection with African fabrics: “HOA x Fly Dye Art Collab.” The impetus for this project was to not just wear clothes but to live and breathe life into clothes with positive, affirming messages and information. In 2016, our collaboration was a featured vendor at Afropunk, Brooklyn.
After Afropunk, Rebecca and Akua decided to rebrand House of Aama and develop a collection for an older, sophisticated adult market. At Afropunk, they saw how many other designers were also utilizing African fabrics, so they decided that from then on they would take a more nuanced approach to expressing their cultural identity. There were certain stories they wanted to tell that didn’t involve just using Kente cloth, but might involve modern pieces and stories within that that pertain to Black people.
2017/18 - Bloodroot Heritage Collection
“BLOOD ROOT is a rare herb used by old-time conjures and root workers as a powerful Guardian for the Family. House of Aama’s AW’17 BLOODROOT collection is an ode to Southern Creole spiritually and African Roots. Hidden in plain sight, these are the tales of a Rootworker, Southern Lady and Bluesman.”
Our BLOODROOT designs are reflective of the PostBellum Southern United States. Rebecca and Akua were inspired by this earlier time period because they believe it’s tremendously significant and critical in Black culture. This was a time when their ancestors had been emancipated from slavery and they were striving to claim their rightful place with forward determination and dignity. These designs are meant to convey a strong sense of self worth built on the retention of strong cultural traditions. Rebecca’s maternal grandmother used to give her bloodroot daily as a child as a medicinal tincture in Louisiana. As a child, she did not know what bloodroot was but later as an adult she learned that bloodroot is a rootsworker herb and that her family has a rootsworker legacy. Their creative direction is drawn from the Southern experiences of Southern Parlor ladies, Conjurer women and blues men and their intersections.
Rebecca and Akua hope that Bloodroot conveys to people of color the strength and resilience of the experience of African people in the Southern United States and that this strength and resilience can be conveyed in a sartorial artistic medium. The collection, Bloodroot is an offering.
Produced 100% in Los Angeles, California. Made to Order. Low Waste Model.
The BLOODROOT collection has been blessed to receive coverage from all major publications including Vogue, Elle Brasil, i-D/Vice, Okay Africa, Fashion Canada, Glamour, Essence and Fashionista to name a few.
2018 February NYFW
December 2018, House of Aama was offered the opportunity to participate in an art residency in New Orleans funded by the MONA Museum where they built an installation inspired by the BLOODROOT collection’s rising themes.
House of Aama chose to not present a new clothing collection but instead focused on gathering archival data and field research to enhance the storytelling which forms the basis for our clothing collections. In the summer of 2019, Rebecca and Akua traveled to Jamaica and collected personal narratives as part of our storytelling gathering. In addition, they have previously traveled to Cuba, Louisiana and Senegal to conduct research and archive personal narratives. In furtherance of their storytelling interests, they launched an online platform for their social media guests to share narratives from their personal family histories. These narratives included favorite familial narratives, folktales, quotes and sayings.
2020 Silhouette Collectibles
In the Silhouette Collectible collection, House of Aama explores the tradition of silhouettes as depicted in antiquity and the postbellum south.
House of Aama is now developing new collections based on the archival research they have conducted to launch in 2021