Interview by Mya Quarture
Based in Pittsburgh, PA, Anika talks to us about her journey in becoming a full time artist and how it all started. With various collaborations and achievements under her belt, Anika is quickly becoming a Pittsburgh fashion staple. Read on and learn more about Anika's story.
How did you get started?
I started about 3.5 years ago on my birthday, January 20th. I turned 20 and that was the date of the fashion show. I got this opportunity because I reached out to a gentleman in Pittsburgh. At the time I was living with my parents. I dropped out of college after my first year and really just wanted to switch to art. It wasn’t in the financial cards for me so I was thinking to myself, everyone is going to be in school the next 3 years so I was thinking what can I do in 3 years for myself to create my own opportunities and education by networking.
I didn’t even know what I was going to do but kept painting and making connections. So I made one shirt. Then I reached out to this gentleman and he happened to be working on a fashion show and I thought heck yeah. He asked me to make eight looks top to bottom. That’s when I got a free sewing machine from my friends mom. It’s the one right in the window.
Where do most of your ideas come from and how do you define your style?
I would say most of my ideas come from wanting to see weird stuff in reality, wanting to see regular people walking around in something very high fashion and creating a conversation piece. When you wear it, people come up to you and you’ll get compliments which is fun. I try to keep it colorful too because back in the 80's everyone was dressing colorful and it’s died down to plain stuff, I just wanted to create something weird. I started Ooh Baby off by making these monsters and people really started liking it so I kept it going. I’d change the eyes and hair, make different kinds of monsters. I’ll see people in real life and try to create them in monster form which helps keep the ideas going.
How did you start the monster theme?
When I first started I was painting in college. I’m not a very good realistic painter and I was looking at things that people like to see when it comes to art. It was portraits, landscapes, basic things like that. I can’t really paint things like that so I was thinking let me paint a portrait but cartoon style because that’s what I’m able to draw. I kinda just threw up on the canvas with it and kept creating these little monster things.
Justin Quiles wore your clothing in one of his music videos. How did that collaboration come about?
So I work with a celebrity stylist named Sarah Akiba and she’s based in Miami. She found me through Instagram, one of her assistants DM'd me. We’d FaceTime and I’d show her the things I had in the store and shed say “Okay send me this, this, this, and that for a video coming up.” Sometimes I don’t even know who I’m sending the clothes for, but it was really cool to see. I just send her a bunch of stuff and she styles it up.
What other celebrities would you like to see wear your clothing?
Number one, definitely Billie Eilish. I think that’d be really cool but I also think she’d genuinely like the clothes. I think eventually hopefully I’ll be expanding to LA with the connections I’m making. I’d also love to see Lady Gaga in my clothes because I also think she’d really like it. Also I was in Florida about a year ago at this casino and they had a bunch of celebrity outfits and they had this dress that she wore that reminded me of something that I’d create so I think she’d really like it.
You visited Florida recently to work with Angel Watching Over Me, tell me more?
So actually Sarah Akiba runs a girls room in a local middle school where both the high school and middle school girls get together about once a week to talk about things they can’t really talk about with their parents or it’s uncomfortable to talk about with friends. Every year they do a fashion show and she asked me to be a part of it. I made ten looks for them and the theme was “in the clouds” so i pretty much just made a lot of cloudy open sky looks. I flew down there and I carried on all 10 looks I literally smashed them in my carry on and was so scared haha. I wanted to have them with me at all times. We had a film crew come too and all the girls got to keep the looks so that was really cool I got to donate to that. Also Alaina Rose performed which was really cool. It was my first out of state fashion show which was really rad. They sponsored me three nights in a hotel which never happened to me before.
What other accomplishments do you set out for yourself?
I don’t really set goals. I’m already doing my dream. I can pay my bills I have money saved. I’m ready for any opportunity that comes my way and I’m making as many hand painted clothes as I can right now in case I have another store in LA. I’m just gearing up for what ever is about to happen and I don’t really know but I feel something is gonna happen in the next year and I’ll have to be ready for it. I’m just trying to focus on creative and being positive. I want to put good energy out and in.
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