We had the good fortune of connecting with Azana Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Azana, how do you think about risk?
Taking risks has been a constant part of my growth. Even getting started in the creative and highly critical world of luxury fashion was somewhat of a leap of faith. But I’d never take it back. I find myself repeatedly having to step out of my comfort zone and be a little courageous as the brand grows. While it may not always be easy, I’m sure many can agree that these are the most important moments. In building Azana Serene, I’ve been faced with many learning experiences that no book prepared me for. I’ve participated in fashion shows in various cities, held events to showcase my work, sent off products free of charge for marketing campaigns, and said “yes” plenty of times without being sure how I was going to deliver or what the results may be. All of these great opportunities have been equally as risky in some way. However, in entering the fashion world, I knew it would take both my creativity and willingness to try new things. So I rise to the challenge. Most recently, I’ve learned about the necessity of adapting, which definitely feels risky! The world of fashion is ever-changing and I am discovering how to change with it while holding true to the vision of Azana Serene. Odd as it may sound, one way I’ve learned to deal with risks is by taking even more chances so that my opportunities are always greater than what I may lose by going for it. My growth as a luxury brand designer has given me a greater appreciation for the saying “the greater the risk, the greater the reward”, and it is something I keep in mind as I take new chances. I think of risks as defining moments that can either defeat you or bring new knowledge. I am proud to say that I have chosen the latter by taking the time to develop my brand further and tapping into the network that has enabled me to do so. Fashion design is all about risks and being bold; Azana Serene will continue to expand and try new styles that empower women.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Azana Serene is a luxury women’s ready-to-wear brand. Founded in 2019, the ideas and inspiration for the brand were long in the making. For years I have admired the world of luxury fashion and known that I wanted to be a contributor. I’ve had a growing appreciation for the outstanding work of women in many industries such as Elaine Welteroth, Bozoma Saint John, and many others. Even more, I love the time that they take to celebrate their big moments; where we learn about their stories and the hard work it took to get there. The beauty in these stories has always deserved a special sense of occasion. I find that behind one hard-working woman, there is always another who empowered her. A woman of grace, poise, and unstoppable power! I admire this elegance and believe it should carry on forever. This is the cornerstone of Azana Serene. I created this brand to highlight women in their special moments and preserve elegance as they blaze the trail. While it was easy to decide what I wanted to do in this industry, it was much more challenging to travel the road. I started at FIDM where I was able to gain the technical skills I needed to get started. These years of schooling have been followed by much planning and hard work of my own. I immersed myself deeper and deeper into fashion as I shaped what my brand would represent and put careful thought into each design. As a young black woman in luxury, I knew there may be many challenges – some common to all designers, and some experiences that would be uniquely my own – that I must be willing to face. I’ve had to learn that being a designer goes much further than simply making glamourous designs. I continuously choose to overcome the challenges of this industry by focusing on the ability I have to empower other women and share my own story through my designs. As with anything worth working towards, I’ve learned that it requires patience, courage, and an insatiable amount of creativity and drive! As a designer, I am excited and honored for Azana Serene to be a small part of the story women tell and look back on with joy. Azana Serene is my way of making a moment even more unforgettable. As the brand grows, I look forward to one day being synonymous with special moments and be a destination for powerful women.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Los Angeles will always have a special place in my heart! If a friend was visiting from out of town, I’d show them some around the arts district, the shops by Third Street promenade, nightlife in Hollywood and DTLA, and all the best restaurants. One of my favorite things to do is simply take a drive through the areas of Baldwin Hills, Wilshire Park, or along PCH. There are plenty of great restaurants and bars such as Toca Madera, Perch, The Reserve and Conga Room.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am very thankful to have a very large network and support group. I’d love to give a special thanks to Regard Style House and its co-founder, Dimitry Loiseau. Dimitry has been a wonderful mentor aiding in the development of Azana Serene as a brand and my advancement as a designer. I’m grateful to learn from him and work alongside him in the fashion community. Thank you for all your support!
Luka Oleksyshyb (@lukalive1), Kristina Lee (@kristinaleephotography)