Meet the Maker: Ashley Alexis McFarlane of Omi Woods

NOV 6, 2017 updated Jun 2, 2021
Mudcloth II Black on Bone by domesticate

This week we’re so beyond pleased to introduce pure elegance with maker Ashley Alexis McFarlane, owner and creative director of boutique brand, Omi Woods based out of Toronto, Canada. In Ashley’s own words, “Omi Woods is grounded in a love for timeless silhouettes, African and Indigenous textiles, and ethical practices.” In fact, much like Spoonflower, Omi Woods creates very little environmental impact as each piece of clothing is custom made-to-order for each individual client, with remnants going towards reuse and recycling efforts. Keep reading to gain an insider’s scoop on what inspires Ashley to create her truly unique fashion brand. 

My day starts with:

“A smoothie, some oats and daydreaming about upcoming collections. I then go onto Instagram and Facebook to check social media updates. I get a lot of my news from Facebook.”

The KENYA convertible dress, Ashley in her home studio

I fell in love with making goods when:

“A friend gave me a sewing machine. I took a sewing class and was hooked.”

When Iā€™m in my studio, I feel:

“Calm and relaxed. I work from home and from an incubator space called The Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation. My home setting is a more relaxed and creative space and the JFC is more about business, planning and meetings.”

Before starting a small business, I was told: 

“To go slow, don’t try to do it all in a short amount of time. Be smart.”

What influences or inspires your work and why?

“I am influenced by fashion from ancient cultures like Egypt, Greece and West Africa. I love wrap designs. I’m also interested in textiles from around the world. I started using Spoonflower to explore ways to make these textilesā€”which were generally made with cottonā€”with more flowing, forgiving and comfy fabrics.”

What’s in your toolbox as a maker?

“Sewing materials. I do a bit of jewelry making, so gemstones and jewelry tools as well. I also do a lot of my own photography so I have a Canon 5D Mark II professional camera. Incense, tea, Afrobeats and sparkling water are also musts.”

My proudest accomplishment over the last year is: 

“Being selected as one of the top three finalists for the Canadian Sustainability Awards. I love that Spoonflower uses eco-friendly dyes, and I’m exploring ways to use more sustainable textiles like recycled jerseys in my work as well.”

What piece of your wardrobe best represents your style?

“I really like our midi and maxi wrap dresses. They’re classic looks, that are easy to wear and the prints make a really bold statement for an otherwise very simple design. Plus they’re super comfortable. I go to a lot of events where I have to dress up, fashion shows and networking events, so it’s nice to put something on that feels like I’m wearing pajamas.”

Omi Woods collections featuring designs by domesticate

How does Spoonflower meet your business needs?

“Spoonflower has given me the creative control to work with fabric designers and create my own designs. I feel like the potential of the designs I can make are limitless. Also not too many people are printing on high quality jerseys so it helps me stand apart in the marketplace.”

What has been an important resource to you as a small business owner and why?

“Asana organization. And my business and legal advisor Kwame Dougan from Scotch and Palm. He’s provided sound business advice and direction that I’ve applied over the years and it’s really helped my business grow and mature.”

The ANYA Wrap Dress by Omi Woods featuring Mudcloth II design by domesticate

My favorite Spoonflower design to work with is:

Mudcloth II by Domesticate because I love the lines of the design and the way it drapes with the garment construction. Andrea Whalen from Domesticate is such a talented textile artist, I love most of the designs on her site. She was also kind enough to format the Mudcloth II design so I could lay out my dress patterns better. Hence the railroaded version.”

Learn more about how Ashley maintains Omi Woods as a conscientious brand and find out the inspired meaning behind her company’s name. For a social fix, you won’t want to miss Omi Woods on Instagram for a full range of beauty and lifestyle inspiration by way of truly stunning imagery. We just cannot get enough!

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  • Awesomeness…that wrap dress is fire. Traditional African patterns are so rich. But do holla when you get into modern designs from the diaspora… šŸ˜‰