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If you're a fan of Nasty Gal's cool-girl vibe but are looking for more one-of-a-kind, handmade items by local and global indie talents, meet Onyx Creative. Founded by a gorgeous Angeleno named Angela Afifi, the just-launched online boutique is essentially the 24-year-old's dream closet, offering dozens of minimalist-inspired clothing, accessories, footwear, beauty, and home items personally hand-picked by her.
Here, Afifi gives us the full rundown on her rapidly rising company, why she's admittedly a Sophia Amoruso fangirl, what brand she admires most, and her global dreams for Onyx Creative.
What sets Onyx Creative apart from other e-commerce platforms?
To begin with, I must say, I was definitely a Nasty Gal while in college (even applied there for a job) and still wear an awesome pair of silver holographic sneakers I bought on the site about four years ago. It was pretty much the only e-commerce website I would shop on, and has been a huge inspiration in the creation of Onyx Creative. It made me realize how large and expandable the e-commerce market is. But I'm not interested in creating another Nasty Gal and becoming the next Sophia Amoruso (although we scarily have a lot in common).
The biggest factor that sets Onyx Creative apart from Nasty Gal is that almost 100% of the items we carry are handmade by extremely talented artisans, crafters, designers and artists from around the world, not replicated in a factory. You can think of us as the organic Nasty Gal. The idea stemmed when I realized the the market for handmade ecommerce boutiques are practically nonexistent. If they are existent, the platform is more of a marketplace than a tailored boutique. I think it's time to give worldwide artists some credit. This ties in the fact that our business model and what types of brands we scout are different as well. Every single item on Onyx Creative is chosen on a very specific (but simple) basis and aesthetic: they are all pieces I would wear or have in my home.
Is there anything about Nasty Gal's business model that you'd change?
Not at all. The business model Sophia Amoruso and Sheree Waterson have set up is doing great and I commend them for it. Maintaining and continuously leveraging an ecommerce website on that scale is not a simple task. There is lots of background work beyond the pretty editorials and glamour. Let's not forget to mention countless hours of melting away on your computer (or it feels like it) to make sure everything is cohesive and perfect between all aspects of the boutique.
What company do you admire visually and from a business standpoint?
The aesthetics of Opening Ceremony really speaks to me. I admire Carol Lim and Humberto Leon's journey from opening a single store to creating multiple (awesome) brands like Kenzo, an e-commerce store, department store and wholesale showroom. The natural progression of the company only means they're doing something right!
Describe your girl.
An Onyx girl is confident, enjoys simplicity in what she wears, and probably has a tiny tattoo somewhere.
Who are your famous muses?
I absolutely adore Rooney Mara. She's an Onyx girl, especially in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. There's something very dark and mysterious, yet playful about her look. That's exactly what Onyx Creative is about.
What brands do you feature and what's the pricing?
We have an array of high-quality but affordable clothing, beauty, accessories, and home brands. We feature swimwear by California based designer Nuera, modern Romanian designs by Pulse, tees for men and women by Polish label Selva and modern buttonups by Australian men's line Handsome ME among many more. Our fashion accessories range from modern leather handbags by Polish label Przywara Strzalka to canvas totes by Mexican designer Lo Paso bien. My love for textures is very obvious in our accessories collection made of materials like concrete, marble, stones and metals. AgJc from Paris is among our favorites with their extremely minimalistic butimpactful designs. Maple + Mauve from California brings an industrial taste to our accessories collection with their unique concrete necklace and earrings.
The beauty products we carry are only made of 100% organic ingredients, including botanical perfumes by Canadian label LVNEA. Our home brands are very special to me because of my love for modern interior design. If I could, I would have every single item in my home! Especially the modern origami lighting designs by Portuguese label Blaanc.Sturlesi Design from Israel is also very unique with their combination of technology and design in modern LED lights. Our mobile accessories collection features printed designs from Chilean brand Pelham andhandpainted iPhone cases by an extremely talented artist from Athens Fiona Zakka.
What are your big goals for Onyx Creative?
Onyx Creative is an experience more than an e-commerce platform. There's a certain feeling when you receive a hand-painted iPhone case from Chile, a bowl that was crafted by a ceramics artist in the Netherlands, a modern dress handmade and designed in Romania. It's a getaway from your average boutique and department store.
My dream is for Onyx Creative to be the destination to discover unique wearable and collectible items from all over the world. Ultimately, we would like to create a worldwide community of people who are interested in the same aesthetics and things we like. We are continuously scouting, discovering and connecting with new artists to expand our market and community.