“Ladybrille will forever hold a special place in my heart. [It was] the first [African focused] magazine that reached out to me! My debut in Ladybrille sparked a great fuse in my career. I’m confident that it will continue to uncover and highlight all the ‘diamonds’ Africa has to offer by being true and efficient, and in my opinion, one of the leading blossoms of our time.”
Momolu was also a household name across the USA when she was a contestant on Project Runway Season 5 show in 2008. Where is Korto now? What is she doing? When are we finally going to be able to buy her clothing designs at local stores like Macy’s, Nordstrom etc? These and more questions is what this talented designer made time to answer for us, prior to showing her collection, as we celebrate her, this Month, as Ladybrille Magazine’s Woman of the Month!
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Hello Miss Korto! Wow! We’ve come such a loooong way since Ladybrille’s first interview with you. How are you?
Korto: I am fabulous, growing and enjoying the ride!
LADYBRILLEmag.com: I know you are preparing for New York Fashion Week. We will get into your collection for this season. But tell us how your preparations have been going?
Korto: The preparation for fashion week is always a long hard journey. There is so much to tend to and I am a perfectionist so I am very hands on with everything including the guest list! (Laughs)
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Laughs. Yikes!) You were introduced to the world during Project Runway Season 5. Since then, what has happened and where are you both as a fashion designer and inter-personally?
Korto: So much has happened!! I have been traveling and showing in all corners of the world. I did the whole inspirational speaking engagement for about a year! That was great being able to reach the youths before they leave school. I am growing my brand and learning that with each day balance is the key to my success!
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Speaking of balance being a key to success, what are some of the key lessons you took away from the Project Runway Show when you competed?
Korto: Patience, everything happens for a reason and that my destiny isn’t in the hands of four judges! (Laughs)
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Laughs) Indeed. Your heart continues to be in Africa and now you are also visiting the continent. You made a recent trip to Liberia. What was that experience like for you?
Korto: It was AMAZING!!! I was able to go home after twenty three (23) and a half years of which I was in exile. I felt right at home as I should. I was well received and got to do what I love to do (fashion) at its highest honor in my homeland. My dad was able to see my show in person for the first time, and I feel that was my happiest moment.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (How beautiful). Let me transition to the Ladybrille audience and others reading this interview. The Ladybrille audience alongwith millions have watched your career evolve and grow. We feel like we have been on this personal journey with you. What is next for the Korto Momolu brand?
Korto: I am currently working on a stationary brand of paper and candle products. I have several jewelry lines that I work on, including a line of diamonds called “green love” (‘Green Love’ debuted this September at Korto’s S/S 2012 New York Fashion Week).
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What have you found are the most rewarding aspects of being a business owner?
Korto: The freedom to be able to pave my own road. If I don’t work, I don’t move forward. Being a business woman continues to allow myself and women like me to build strength, confidence and self esteem in a male dominated world.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What have been your biggest challenges?
Korto: Financing. It is the main reason for my clothing line not being sold yet in stores. I think for most self-made designers we struggle to make a way out of no way. It’s a struggle but we survive until that helps comes our way.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Let’s talk about your latest collection for New York Fashion Week. Last year, your collection blew me away and I even stole a dress to host the 2010 NEA Awards. What do you have set for this season?
Korto: Lots of fiery burnt oranges, smoky black, buttery creams …lots of Japanese influences. I took my favorite silhouettes of a kimono dress and made it my own in various ways. It’s very feminine, flowy, sexy and true to the Korto Momolu aesthetic.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: I know you are a fashion designer that the press loves hearing about. How do you juggle staying relevant in the public eye, press interviews, showing at fashion weeks, being a mom, a wife, a daughter and so many other roles and projects you handle?
Korto: I stay grounded and I live in Little Rock Arkansas. It is a great place to be when the rest of the country is crazy. We are cool calm and laid back down here. I love my family because they allow me to be me and they support me on all accounts! I still have the same friends, same phone number and I am the same person I was before Project Runway. . .just busier. (Laughs)
LADYBRILLEmag.com: You are our Ladybrille Woman of the Month!! How does that feel? (Laughs)
Korto: Amazzzziing! How much of an honor is that? I love Ladybrille for being there from day one! And I am proud that you guys are still showing me love…thanks and kisses!
LADYBRILLEmag.com: For you, what does it mean to be a “brilliant” (Ladybrille) woman?
Korto: It means I represent for the woman who is me. She is on her A game and continues to be a force to be reckoned with! She makes no excuses for her brilliance and when she is present, people take notice! I am the Ladybrille woman!
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Laughs) What are the value systems that drive you?
Korto: Faith. . . I dream, keep faith, believe and the next day I get up and do it all over again.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What makes you wake up each day and do what you do all over again? Okay speaking of doing it all over again, what other factors make you do it all over again especially when the tough gets going?
Korto: My daughter Alyse, who is my life, my mom who is my strength when I am weak, my prayer warrior. My family is the bomb, this is for all of us!
LADYBRILLEmag.com: When all is said and done, what is the kind of fashion legacy you want to leave to the world?
Korto: I want to show that from nothing comes something. I want to make clothing for women who are not always represented in the industry, I hope one day the norm will be a thing of the past and fashion will be something everyone can be a part of.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Thank you Korto!
Korto: Thanks Lovies!!! Smooches.
Read Ladybrille’ Elfonnie Inokon’s review of the Korto show.
Watch the show below.
Founded in 2007, Ladybrille® Magazine is a California based pioneer digital publication demystifying the image of Africans in the west through contemporary African fashion and celebrating the brilliant woman in business and leadership, with an emphasis on the African woman in the diaspora. Our coverage includes stories on capital, access to markets, expertise, hiring and retention, sales, marketing, and promotions.