ESSENCE: When did you know that you wanted to design handbags?
SARAH NAKINTU: When I started to travel. I found that there are very few functional bags for women who travel and work in urban areas.
ESSENCE: What makes your designs unique?
S.N.: The first thing is the African influence you see in our safari animal prints—it's a new take on doing those prints, and very modern. I wanted to create functional, African-inspired bags that can go from the office to dinner—and bags that you will see on the streets of New York City, Tokyo, London, Milan, Paris.
Kintu New York available at Kintu New York | $850
ESSENCE: Why do you think Africa is such a hotbed for emerging fashion designers right now?
S.N.: Africa has always had its own creators. We are known to make things from scratch. The issue is that African creators are rarely displayed on a global stage. However, I do think social media and globalization, with people traveling back and forth, have helped provide a platform.
ESSENCE: Your Afro and signature red lip are awesome. What do you use for them?
S.N.: I can't live without Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick. It lasts a long time—even when I eat. I experiment with as many colors as possible, but the best red on me is Fiery. For my hair, I will try anything natural. These days I'm using Miss Jessie's Coily Custard and good old-fashioned coconut oil.
Kintu New York available at Kintu New York | $695
ESSENCE: Who shapes your personal style?
S.N.: For me, inspiration comes from watching certain people as they live their lives. One person I've been watching for a long time is fashion designer Raf Simons. I've been following his career. In addition, there are people like fashion stylists who set trends through their work, such as Jenke Ahmed Tailly, Monica Rose and Zerina Akers.
This article originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of ESSENCE Magazine.