Interview with Rosette Alé: Founder of Revival Ldn.
Contribution by Beverly Nzama.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with the Founder and CEO herself, and her outfit did not disappoint. Rosette was dressed head to toe in one of her most popular redesigns: the puff sleeve top and trumpet hem skirt co-ord, which will be available for purchase in July 2021.
Of course, I didn’t want to be left out, so I was more than enthusiastic to wear my classic Revival one shoulder crop top in pink – cannot think of a better occasion to whip it out, than when meeting with the brains behind the fashions!
Since starting Revival in 2016 as a college student, Rosette’s confidence as business owner has grown tremendously.
Confessing that there was once a time she would nervously whisper “I’m a fashion designer”, she has since come a long way.
“Now I’m like, Nah, that’s me… I’m a fashion designer – Thank you!” – she laughs.
Learning along the way, doing the work and actually figuring it out in real time has been Rosette’s biggest teacher, and has no doubt contributed to her personal growth. Revival has received a huge amount of public support and has hit major milestones such as hosting runway show events, selling out several products online and collaborating with the likes of Depop x Adidas.
Rosette had studied Maths and Economics at Woodhouse college, so you would think it would come as a surprise that she has led a career in entrepreneurial fashion, but for those who know her personally, it’s no surprise at all…
Known online as “Thrift Queen Lola”, Rosette would spend almost every weekend working her way through the East London markets, vintage clothing shops and online second hand purchasing, looking for cheap items that she could style in her own way. The goal was to find ‘exclusive’ looking pieces, so wherever she could get her hands on something authentically eccentric to stand out from the majority and express her personal style – she was there. She realised it was more worthwhile to invest in items that would last through time, rather than follow what’s on trend.
When asked about what had planted the seed of entrepreneurship, Rosette reflected on when she had spent her childhood living in Ghana with her dad…
“It’s so random and silly, you’re gonna laugh… I have this one memory. There was a school trip to the Akosombo Dam. I asked if I could go and my dad was silent. He then said I couldn’t go, and I think it was because we couldn’t afford it. And I just remember being so upset, and I just thought ‘rah’, I don’t ever want my children to experience that. I need even that little bit of freedom. And from that second, I was like, you know what, I need to make something of myself. I’ll always remember that moment.”
What may have been tough times in the moment, was pruning a young and successful businesswoman – we love to see it.
Rosette joined her mother in the UK to study her senior school years.
After having finally served her time and getting out of the restraints of a school uniform, Rosette embraced the opportunity to start developing her own individuality through fashion, but quickly realised that the retail wage she was earning at the time just wasn’t going to cut it for all the looks she wanted to serve.
She began unstitching and reworking the clothes she already had in her wardrobe to make them look new, and then had the idea to take the pieces that she had thrifted and sell them on for profit.
As her time in university was coming to an end, the sinking realisation hit that she needed to figure out what she was going to do with her life – a feeling many of us know too well.
Having taken many business modules, she knew it was time to get serious about this fashion thing.
This wasn’t just going to be a hobby, but the start of a new venture. So, with a very basic logo and completely different branding to what we see today, came the birth of what we can call Revival – volume 1.
Inspired by the Lauren Bravo book, Rosette’s Instagram bio says she is “breaking up with fast fashion”, and as we know, break ups can be messy… so what prompted the ending of the relationship?
Like oh so many of us, Rosette was seduced by the convenient prices of your everyday high-street and online clothing stores. While she was wrapped up in the Top Shops and Missguided’s of the world, she started doing her own research and becoming more aware of what is actually going on in the fashion industry. Through learning more about fashion revolution and who made the clothes she was purchasing, and the negative effect on the planet, she embarked on her journey of shopping more consciously and sustainably.
“I realised that this is actually a serious, serious issue. I got an understanding of how corrupt the industry is, and how messed up things are. And now I’m trying to stay away from those brands who are involved in those kinds of activities.” Rosette knew that she wanted to create a solutions-based business, having been inspired by those who have led the movement before her.
“This task is big, but I don’t feel like it’s all on me. I mean, I feel like I’m doing MY part for the environment and then there’s gonna be more people coming along that can also contribute.”
Following along Rosette’s journey, at every event you can see her mother there, heart-warmingly cheering her on. Despite coming to the UK from Ghana to be closer to her mother, Rosette was growing up in her Auntie’s home in Edgeware, London, with frequent visits to and from Milton Keynes to see her mum. This made any time they got to spend together so much more meaningful and contributed to the strength of their relationship today:
“Yeah, my mum is just… she’s a G! She’s really, really supported me even like from the beginning, when she didn’t really know what ‘Revival’ was. You know when they don’t really understand and they’re just like, ‘I’m here supporting you’. We’re really close.”
Rosette’s mother has supported her business, even financially, and has been a pinnacle part of this journey.
Her experience working in the fashion industry has shown Rosette how white-washed the environment is, flooded with an elite club of those who have huge amounts of money to spend on advertising and the most expensive versions of everything. So, it has been imperative for Rosette to bring culture into every aspect of what she does; taking inspiration from her Ghanaian heritage with the puff sleeved silhouettes, TLC and Aaliyah’s 90’s fashion and adding her own flare – every piece made is a representation of Rosette’s upbringing and personality.
Most recently, Revival has launched a crowdfunding campaign. This is to raise money to set up a sustainable supply chain and has been in the works for almost a year. They have already been able to get a partner on board to source and clean discarded textiles. The next challenge is to find local makers; proving difficult to do as it’s an extremely labour-intensive job.
The goal is to create a completely eco-friendly process from pre-production, all the way to delivery and consumption – details on the campaign and how you can help are on the Revival website.
From the social media accounts, to the business website, you can always see a reference to God, a Bible quote or verse. Rosette describes herself as a woman of God and reveals the religious connection in choosing the name ‘Revival’ for her business.
“God is literally at the centre of everything, because I can’t do anything without him.”
Whenever faced with new challenges, Rosette is able to ‘apply the Word’, and persevere against the odds. We cannot wait to see her fulfil what looks like a promising future in sustainable fashion and business.
Contribution by Beverly Nzama.