“We All Have Core Values but Our Focus Can Easily Be Shifted” — A Conversation With Circa24's Asanyah Davidson - Jamaicans.com
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“We All Have Core Values but Our Focus Can Easily Be Shifted” — A Conversation With Circa24’s Asanyah Davidson

Asanyah Davidson is the creative behind Circa24.  Asanyah credits the first seven years of her life spent in Jamaica as her most influential. Born in Clarendon, Jamaica, family and culture contributed to her love of fashion, drawing and sewing.  Watching her Aunt get dressed for parties, her cousin always encouraging her to draw and her Granma Vin showing her the magic that comes from a sewing machine; her unique and talented perspective, and her technical training, provides something every woman needs…chic and custom pieces. Circa24 is her brainchild and pays tribute to her heritage and her family influence.

‘Circa’ comes from her belief that all things in life come full circle and ‘24’ refers to the year her Granma was born.  “I have to celebrate her life, she had a lot of influence on everyone that knew her, so much energy in all that she did.”  After moving from Jamaica to the states, Asanyah never stopped moving forward.  From California, Florida, Tennessee and back to South Florida she found herself attending one of the top 10 high schools in the country, Design and Architecture Senior High (DASH) in the Miami Design District.  After graduating, with a focus in Fashion Design, she then went on to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City where she received an AAS in Fashion Design with a year spent abroad in Florence Italy.  She then returned to N.Y.C. to finish her BA in International Trade and Marketing for the Fashion Industries.

Asanyah spent several years in the industry and completed her MA in Design Studies at Central St. Martins in London England before returning to the states and taking a position with Macy’s Florida Division as an assistant buyer.  She then taught at Miami International University of Art & Design and Broward Community College while bringing her vision [Circa24] Apparel to life.

In the most recent years, Asanyah took her love of teaching and knowledge of fashion to West Africa where she taught and consulted at schools in both Lagos, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana. She’s been invited to be a HEARCongo ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo and continues to work with the non-profit on initiatives for young women. She currently holds the position of Department Chairperson of the Miami Fashion Institute at Miami Dade College.

1. What is your connection to Jamaica?
I was born in Clarendon. Both my parents are Jamaican.

2. Are you a business person or entrepreneur or both? (A businessperson starts a business based on an existing idea or concept. An entrepreneur starts a business from their own unique idea or concept.)
I am a bit of both. I work in a traditional position as department Chairperson at the Miami Fashion Institute. I also consult and do design work, but the entrepreneur in me consults Fashion Education programs in Africa.

3. What was your profession before you started your business?
I was a licensed kids shoe designer for a company in Boca Raton. I designed for the Latin America Division; everything from “Dora the Explorer” to “Hello Kitty” shoes that sparkled and lite up. Every day was a little different. Before that, I was teaching at two different Universities while developing my own fashion brand.

4. Who or what motivated you to go into business?
I don’t like regrets. I didn’t have any major obligations, and I wanted to give it a try.

5. Did you face any challenges in mobilizing your capital?
No, in both designing and consulting I started small and worked my way up. The first job consulting for a school in Nigeria led to other opportunities to work in Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

6. Tell us about your business?
I work with organizations or programs that want to expand or develop curriculum for their specific demographic. It could mean expansion into accredited programming or simply adding additional skills for the purpose of eventual export of apparel product.

7. Many businesses have a moment they call their “big three breaks,” whether it be a news story, a big contract etc. Have you or your business had that “big break” yet?
It’s come in waves. When I ran Circa24 as an apparel brand, it was being on the morning news and having articles in magazines. Now as a consultant it really is more about having someone who means serious business reach out to me because they heard about the work I was doing somewhere else. Consultants are behind the scenes, so our big break often happens in silence.

8. Currently what is your biggest business challenge?
Time management. There are never enough hours to truly be balanced in the way you live your life when you have a business and work for a large organization.

9. Other than the money what types of satisfaction do you get out of your work?
Helping others achieve their goals and seeing a program develop that really works for all involved.

10. What motivates you on a day to day basis?
Growth and making sure I take full advantage of this very short life we live. Being stagnant scares me.

11. How do you motivate people that aren’t close to you and enable them to see your vision?
Lead by example and always be vocal in what the vision is. Share the thought process that has lead me to make certain decisions. To be honest, my friends don’t need much motivating. We all have moments, but we all get back on the horse.

12. How do you remind yourself of what’s important?
Write it down. We all have core values but our focus can easily be shifted, and we can get easily distracted. I write it down. And I remind myself when I open my notebook what I’m supposed to be working towards. I know it’s time to revisit/refocus on those goals if I find myself frustrated and losing patience. I’m always more calm and motivated when I’m working a plan.

13. What time do you wake up and do you have a routine?
Ugh.. I have had to become a morning person. I’m up at 6 am weekdays, and depending on my weekend, I may sleep in until 7 am.

14. Do you have any hobbies?
Yes, boxing/kickboxing, reading, and travel.

15. If the economy crashed hard and there was no more room for you in the business sector, what would you do with yourself?
My aunt always said, “If you have use, you can feed yourself.” I would go back to doing custom pieces, alterations, and possibly teach classes.

16. Seven days, six nights, all expense paid, my vacation destination is…
A toss-up between GoldenEye or Kanopi House in Jamaica.

17. My favorite guilty pleasure is…
Watching episodes of Catfish. (The madness is real!)

18. My favorite Jamaican food is…
Fresh hard dough bread and guava jelly.

Learn more about Asanyah Davidson at http://www.mdc.edu/fashion/about.aspx and www.circa24forever.com.

About the author

Xavier Murphy