Cincinnati native showcases fashion talent worldwide
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A Cincinnati native is showcasing her talent around the world with her fashion designs.
Asha Daniels’ inspiration came from her mother and a teacher who showed her that it was a possible career.
But her love for the industry and confidence grew after taking on “Project Runway.”
Daniels, who designs under the name “Asha Ama,” was a third-place finalist on Lifetime’s “Project Runway: Under the Gunn.” She was even brought back to compete again for “Project Runway All-Stars Season 5.”
“Seeing my look come down the runway, I am like, ‘yes God,’ honey,” says Daniels. “I’m so excited I want to jump out of my chair. I love my look.”
A look that won that competition, leaving quite an impression on actress and songstress Zendaya, who graced the stage in Daniels’ outfit on tour.
Since that time, Daniels has been honored with dressing several other celebrities as well.
“I was able to dress one of the ladies from Little Big Town for the Academy of Country Music Awards and that just really validated who I was a designer, because so often, as a Black woman in these spaces, you can feel like, ‘oh, I don’t belong here,’” says Daniels. “But the fact that I was able to accomplish those things really made me realize who I was and what I should be doing here.”
Living out her wildest dreams all started in her hometown of Cincinnati.
Daniels says her mother was an avid sewer and left a huge imprint on the designs she makes today.
“I went to a Black Catholic church, St. Joseph, down on the West End,” explains Daniels. “When I had my first communion, instead of having like a traditional veil, my parents collaborated and made me a white lace Nefertiti hat. So, I had like this white lace crown on. When I was a kid, I thought this is weird. But now as an adult, I really appreciate that my parents really instilled a sense of self.”
Daniels says from there, her art teacher at Saint Ursula Academy encouraged her to pursue fashion after taking a design class, which she did, graduating magna cum laude from the UC Dapp program.
However, she says her initial journey into her career wasn’t as exciting as she imagined.
“I did a lot of co-oping, so I was able to see the corporate side of the fashion design world which was fun but it didn’t really let me be creative and express myself as an artist, as a Black woman, and then I kind of ended my co-op journey at Dapp doing couture fashion and design which I loved because I was able to be creative but I saw that I wasn’t able to take credit for my own work,” says Daniels. “The pay was not great and the hours weren’t great so I said I know I have this in me and if I want to do this for a living. I’m going to do it for myself and my own name.”
She did just that.
Daniels took on Project Runway twice which opened many more doors including now designing for Lizzo’s dancers, known as the Big Grrrls.
She says the moment meant, even more, when the dancers posted a TikTok video dancing to Beyonce’s song, which was shared by Beyonce’s mother, Tina.
“That was such a cute moment because I was like, that’s my work and she’s posting it,” says Daniels.
While Daniels is currently living in Brooklyn, she has been traveling showcasing her new moon collection.
Allowing her dream to come full circle, selling out two fashion shows in Cincinnati, including the Afro Swag Hair and Fashion Show.
While she says it’s one of her proudest moments creating art and beauty on the stage, she says it’s a greater reminder of her deeper calling.
“Just reminding people of who they are,” Daniels explains. “As a Black woman, I am partial to reminding black women of who we are. And just showing us in beautiful lights celebrating our hair, our complexion. Our natural bodies because so often we’re told that we need to change or be something different. And I think that we’re perfect the way God made us.”
You can all of Daniels’ collections on her website, Asha Ama.
She tells us her next goal is to design a piece for Beyonce.
This story is part of a weekly segment called Breaking Through.
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