When stylist and designer Sarah Akiba lost her father to lung cancer back in 2013 that's when everything changed. Prior to this, Sarah worked as a stylist partnering with some of fashions biggest names like Terry Richardson and styling fashion it girl Yes Julz. So when her world drastically changed so did her career. She wanted to give back and create a network where people could turn to in their time of grief, that's when Angel Watching Over Me was born. As the saying goes, not all angels have wings, which is so true when it comes to Sarah. Her mission is simple, she has become an angel to others who are in pain, and who need help. She holds weekly support groups, holiday events are children's hospitals, arranges toy drives around the holidays and so much more. And as if Sarah doesn't have enough on her plate, this past New York Fashion Week Sarah launched her second collection for her clothing line AWOM Club which stemmed from her foundation. Read below as Sarah let's us inside her world and shares her tips and tricks for Making It. Plus! Learn how to get involved and give back.
Growing up, did you always have an interest in the fashion industry?
My whole life I was bathed in fashion, art, and creativity. My mom being a designer in Paris at a young age owning her own small boutique with women lining up at the crack of dawn to get her hand made haute couture pieces, and my dad with his clothing line Performance, and than both growing to be art dealers. Growing up setting a table was visually intriguing, so I guess it was only natural that my passion for fashion came about.
When did you create your non-profit Angel Watching over me and what was your inspiration behind the creating the organization?
Angel Watching Over Me is only a little over a year old. I started the foundation after I lost my father to lung cancer in 2013. It all started with the design of a hat with my Angel Watching Over Me logo that I designed, grew into something much bigger after I was told my first collection would be ready on November 15th… That was my fathers birthday.
How do you feel your career as a stylist and designer has impacted Angel Watching over me?
My career as a stylist and designer has helped the foundation in many ways. My connections definitely helped raise money which gave me the opportunity to do all this good.
Also, from the foundation stemmed my clothing line AWOM Club (www.awom.club) where 5% of the proceeds go to the foundation. I do NOT make or take any money from the foundation for myself so this is my way of making it work and spreading the word because people love the clothes so much. Its really such an incredible representation and so many people feel it. Everyone has an angel, doesn't mean they have to have wings.
How can we get involved?
You can get involved by simply being good human beings to one another, any good deed on any given day could change someones life. You could be their angel. A simple smile can do that.
You can also help the foundation grow by donating to us on www.awom.org and there you can also see what we do to help the community. To list a couple: support groups every other week in Miami and New York for people who have lost loved ones. AWOM Girls Club to help young girls become leaders with our new after school program. Help fund our Halloween Party at Joe Dimaggio Hospital for children who are ill and don't have the privilege to go trick or treating, so we bring trick or treating to them! And several other incredible things.
This past NYFW you launched your second collection for AWOM Club, tell us a bit about that process and what really goes into creating a clothing line?
NYFW was my second haute couture collection for AWOM Club. These were all one of one pieces that really gave way to what the foundation was about. Each garment was designed by myself with pure love and energy that came from other peoples stories about their angels.
Most of the pieces had printed photos of these people on them. For example, all of the coats and button downs.
No sleep, lots of planning, getting the collection right, getting models, makeup artists, design the space, make it creative and different.
What was your inspiration behind the collection?
To kind of follow from the previous question, my inspiration was the everyday human. I interviewed 16 different people for the first magazine AWOM Journal and used that to inspire the collection. Their stories were so powerful that, that was exactly what my collection had to portray: Their stories.
AWOM Journal can be found at www.awom.org
After a busy day of meetings and shoots, what’s one thing you like to do to decompress?
After a long day, my favorite thing to do is to just come home, take a bath, and watch TV. Totally normal.
As a woman on the go, what’s one item you can never leave home without?
Two items I can never leave home without is my agenda and composition book. Those things have my whole life written in it.
What would you say is the biggest difference between styling and designing clothing?
The biggest difference for me would be that styling is more to create an image that has already been identifies, its almost an imitation that you have to reproduce. Of course, I have my little creative twists, but you don't have the full creative capacity because your working to please your client and their image, while designing clothing is the complete opposite. I am free to design whatever it is I feel, whatever I think is “cool” and no one can judge that because they are MINE. Now, of course, people can dislike it, but that doesn't matter to me because they are what I felt in a moment.
As a woman who really does it all, from styling, to designing, to running Angel Watching Over me, where do you hope to see yourself five to ten years down the road?
I love when people ask me this because it definitely makes me think. But, the truth is that I have no fucking clue! I change my mind and what I want to do so often, and even more so come up with so many crazy ideas and I run with them all. So who knows! But I'm sure it will be incredible amazing no matter what, as long as they make me happy, and help others feel good, I'm on the right path.