For Angel Ford of Lavish Lamb, style, regardless of the season, is about dressing the way you want, so you can be your truest self.
“I believe that you should just be unapologetically who you are, wear whatever makes you feel good, whatever makes you feel confident, that's what you should be wearing,” she says. “While not all sizes are created equal, I believe all styles are created equal. You should definitely wear whatever makes you feel the best and whatever makes you feel confident because then you're projecting that confidence out into the world.”
Ford was born and raised in Pittsburgh, splitting her time between Homewood and Garfield. Growing up, she saw her biological mother work as a seamstress for a boutique located on Centre Avenue in the 1980s. This served as an early inspiration for her.
Watching her mother made her want to learn, but she didn’t get into sewing herself until a few years ago.
“I took a free six-week sewing class at the East End Cooperative Ministries in 2017, and it was just a free class that I've always wanted to do. Plus, my granddaughter was getting ready to be born at the time,” she says. “So it just seemed like the perfect fit. And when I took that class, I guess they saw something in me and they were like, ‘Hey, would you be interested in starting your own business? We'll pay for your paperwork and help you get your LLC established.’ And so, that's what they did.”
Ford says she also has alopecia, so the topic of hair is a tender subject for her. She felt for her granddaughter’s struggle and started sewing the headpieces by hand and making them available for purchase by others.
In 2020, she decided to pivot her brand to include clothing and other accessories.
If you visit the Lavish Lamb website, the Ava Monroe line is one of the first things you’ll see. Then, you’ll have the option to either Shop All or Shop Accessories. Accessories include everything from statement earrings to handbags. The Ava Monroe collection now also includes cloth face masks in stylish prints.
Ford doesn’t have a physical storefront and sews her Ava Monroe collection from her home workshop. Right now, Ford sources her clothing for her online store from a list of about 500 vendors who are spread out nationally, but she hopes to work with some local talent in the future. The clothing includes plus-sized offerings, something that can be hard to find in local boutiques.
“Fashion is just very important to me because it makes me feel good about myself. There is not the best selection out there in terms of plus-size clothes, everything is pretty much fast fashion,” says Ford. “It's just not enough — it's not enough color, it's not enough variety, it's not enough style for me. And so, that's what I really want to bring to the table.”
Fast fashion refers to clothes and accessories produced at high rates for low cost. Often associated with retailers like H&M, Forever 21, and Old Navy, the fast fashion industry has come under fire for human rights violations, as products are often made in overseas shops with exploitative worker conditions. It has also become an environmental concern, as products that are not sold or quickly discarded by consumers end up in landfills.
As a result, shoppers are becoming more conscientious, leading to the rise of “sustainable fashion.” Part of this movement is spending more money on higher quality, longer lasting pieces that are also more unique, giving you a look that can be original and make you stand-out. This aspect is important for Ford, who says she tries to abide by that principle.
While there are unique fashion pieces that will set you apart from the average consumer, there are also style essentials that Ford says every woman should have.
“A blazer because that can be dressed up or down. A pair of pumps or flats — a pair of high-quality flats can be a necessity,” she says. “For my more established dressers, either a statement necklace or earrings. I don't recommend wearing both at the same time. A good pair of fitted jeans. That's important because those could easily be dressed up or down, and a nice dress shirt.”
She says she has just about all of these pieces in her personal wardrobe, and includes the suggestion of a good quality leather jacket, in multiple colors if you can find them.
What’s next for Ford and Lavish Lamb?
“In my mind, I would like to design my own clothes and have them manufactured at a higher level,” says Ford. “I would like to have a Target brand and then I would like to have a higher-end brand for women.”
Lavish Lamb. lavishlamb.com