In fashion, every piece of clothing tells a story. That’s why mother-daughter duo Akua Shabaka and Rebecca Henry teamed up to create House of Aama, a fashion brand that explores the Black experience in America. Each House of Aama clothing collection explores a different facet of Black history and culture, from their Creole spirituality-inspired Bloodroot Heritage Collection to their latest Resort Collection, which takes inspiration from the Black resort communities of the 1910s through 1960s.
Rebecca and Akua believe that each piece of clothing they design should be thought-provoking as well as fashionable. Their designs range from colorful gowns to Victorian-era inspired dresses to more casual cotton shorts, but each piece of clothing has deep roots in the Black experience. “We want people to feel a connection to the story that we’re conveying and that we’re attempting to tell through the clothing, to feel a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality to these stories,” Rebecca tells In The Know. “And we want people to feel like they can create and dig deeper into their own personal stories.”
Akua explains that House of Aama’s goal is to uncover overlooked narratives and forgotten histories. “We use House of Aama as a tool to explore our heritage and our lineage, and to shine light on the Black experience and histories that we feel are hidden in plain sight and should be told,” she tells In The Know.
For Rebecca, that means digging deep into her Southern lineage and creating pieces inspired by her own family history. “The Bloodroot Heritage Collection really was informed by my family narrative, the maternal lineage coming out of Louisiana,” she explains. “Bloodroot was a medicinal herb that my grandmother used to give us at the end of the day that was actually really a Hoodoo Voodoo type of herb that’s used to protect the family. We’re very intentional in terms of the storytelling of that collection.”
Akua and Rebecca strive to create clothing that draws on history while still feeling uniquely modern. Pieces like House of Aama’s Green Silk Halter Top or their Henrietta Cotton Twill Jumpsuit blend contemporary designs with historical details. Akua tells In The Know, “Some of the textures in that collection you can see are the laces and the flounces, but then also adding a twist to it by making the Southern Girl Victorian Dress yellow or using a lot of silky materials or workwear.”
These days, Akua and Rebecca are working on developing their upcoming Resort collection, which draws on the Black resort communities that existed during the first half of the 20th century. “It’s a hidden in plain sight type of story of these resort communities that existed,” Rebecca explains. “During the time that they were existing, they were very vibrant and very thriving and an essential part of the African American community. So it’s a story of remembrance, it’s a story of nostalgia.”
Akua and Rebecca are working hard to create unique clothing that is rooted in the Black experience. But their ambitions go far beyond their upcoming fashion collections—They want to create a legacy for their family. “It feels good just to grow a business with my daughter, to feel that we’re creating something that is a family legacy that can live beyond just her and I, that can continue to be passed down through the generations as an inheritable asset,” Rebecca explains. “That this is not just for now, but is something that we’re building for the future.”
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