Washington, D.C. is unlike any other city in the world. Its historic culture and climate is an inspiration to people everywhere. It was a definite inspiration to AU alumna Ayanna Maharry, who was so fascinated by the experience of living in D.C. that it influenced her to launch her own line of demin called Hzurdadi.
Hzurdadi (pronounced "who’s your daddy") officially launched in 2011 and was inspired by Maharry’s desire to create a brand name that would instantly evoke a sense of confidence, fearlessness, aspiration, adventure, determination, and even bravado.
Maharry says that her motivation to break into the fashion industry derived from her experience working in film: “I studied film production at AU. I’m an actress, writer, and director, but I like the utilitarian and artistic aspects of fashion. Fashion may seem like a stretch, but there are a lot of parallels creatively and in business. Wardrobe is such a critical component to any film. It informs so much about the film – time period, class, gender,” she says. Maharry partially credits her success to her education at AU, saying “The education I received at AU helped build many of the technical and leadership skills necessary to launch a fashion business.”
When asked about the concept and the theory behind the name, Maharry, who now resides in Los Angeles, says: “Hzurdadi was derived in large part from living in Washington, D.C. I’m fascinated by history, and to me, the D.C. [metro region] is the history capital of the U.S. Denim jeans, the fabric and the garment, have such a rich history. Our brand name has a historical context that evolved from subculture through pop culture. There is so much history to draw inspiration from and that allows us to be really creative with our denim designs.”
When asked what Maharry enjoys most about being an entrepreneur, she says, “I get to wear really cool jeans, of course! I also get to work with all the different craftsmen it takes to put a line together. Their creativity and skill motivate me. The best part about being an entrepreneur is that I get to provide jobs, which is really fulfilling.”
While Maharry is excited about her accomplishments and looks forward to future projects, she admits that breaking into the fashion industry isn’t easy. On advice she would provide to aspiring designers, she says, “Decide which area of the industry you want to have a career in. Intern for a designer and read everything you can get your hands on. Ask lots of thoughtful questions and listen. Take the initiative to educate yourself and learn as much as you can about the industry as a whole so you can know how all the parts fit together.”