Amira Rasool is the creator of The Folklore Group, a B2B platform that links retailers with emerging market products from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and South America.
“We’re specifically targeting brands that have been geographically or racially marginalized from being able to have this access to retailers,” she told CNBC Make It.
She founded her company after discovering clothes companies she had never seen or heard of in America on a trip to South Africa. After inquiring, she understood the difficulties such firms experience in introducing their products to the United States.
She quickly realized that the difficulty was an African one, not a “South African” problem. According to her, many of the enterprises were unable to sell their products outside of Africa due to a lack of technology and infrastructure to ship overseas or access U.S. stores.
This resulted in the establishment of her fashion business, The Folklore Group. The company sells men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, as well as African homeware companies. She raised $1.7 million in pre-seed funding in July 2021 alone.
Rasool returned to South Africa following her first visit to pursue a Masters in African Studies at the University of Cape Town. She didn’t stop there. She traveled to Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya, where she connected with local brands.
She started her business with $30,000 in 2018. Her funds from working at V Magazine and freelance writing totaled $20,000, with $10,000 coming from her father. Her first employees were an intern and her mother. Her mother shipped the things from her place to customers. She employed 12 people in a comprehensive change after earning $1.7 million in pre-seed funding.
In 2022, Rasool built a new B2B version of her site and launched The Folklore Connect which allows brands to sell their products in bulk to larger retailers. “We imagine being able to have thousands of brands from around the world using the platform,” she told CNBC Make It about her future goal. “And having hundreds of thousands of retailers.”
Rasool adored fashion as a child. She started a fashion blog in high school. She later interned for magazines such as Marie Claire and Women’s Wear Daily while attending Rutgers University.
The South Orange, New Jersey native secured a job as a fashion assistant at V Magazine during her final semester of college.