Artist Spotlight: Nyambo and Kay Anuluoha
Nyambo and Kay Anuluoha
Kutula by Africana
40+ years ago Francesca Anuluoha emigrated from Zambia to Los Angeles where she met her Nigerian husband in our city’s vibrant African community. She opened a retail space, Africana Imports on Slauson Ave., with a focus on creating beautiful clothes that connect people to their African past and the power of having a proud history. In 2014, she retired and moved to Zambia, leaving her daughters Kay and Bo Anuluoha in charge and they rebranded the store as Kutula by Africana which remains LA's premiere retailer for African-inspired fashion. Over the last 45+ years, someone from this trio has been designing and making contemporary fashions from their flagship store. KUTULA also serves as a design showroom for African-inspired fashions serving film & TV costume and set designers, stylists, celebrities, dignitaries and leaders across sectors.
Co-owners and CEOs of KUTULA, Bo & Kay Anuluoha were both born and raised in LA They both departed decorated careers in NYC and Washington D.C. as executives in public relations and public affairs--and leapt into becoming second-generation owners of KUTULA, which means to 'leap forward' in Zambia. KUTULA's legacy continues to reach near and far, most recently seen in 2018's iconic Marvel's Black Panther film, as well as Kendrick Lamar's "All the Stars” music video for Black Panther soundtrack, and numerous red-carpet designs for several of the film's cast and family including Lupita N'yongo, Michael B. Jordan and Angela Bassett. KUTULA was recently featured in a top-trending news piece on NPR and their products have been recently featured on the cover of People Magazine and within the pages of In Style, Essence, and Vogue to name a few. In May 2018, Bo and Kay of KUTULA received Special Congressional Recognition for outstanding achievement in the field of fashion, and for supporting and promoting the opportunities and rewards of doing business in Africa. KUTULA's flagship boutique is located in LA's View Park-Windsor Hills and their retail store has served as the backdrop for several major motion pictures and television shows.
How are you and your community being impacted by the crises of this time period?
Kutula by Africana is located in the small local shopping area on Slauson Ave. near Overhill in South Los Angeles. Most of the businesses are still operating with modified hours except those that have been required to close by the authorities like hair salons. We have modified our operational hours and merchandise to support the needs of families during COVID. For example, we design and sell 100% african print cotton reversible masks. From the onset of the COVID, we have supported the needs of the community which has allowed us to continue operating at 50% capacity. As many small business in places like South LA, we were not able to get a PPP loan due to the complexity of the application process and lack of banking relationships.
What are ways artists and/or community members are responding in a positive way?
We are continuing in our role as a hub of our community, adjusting to local needs by making masks, dashikis, robes and t-shirts as well as supporting smaller events like backyard weddings and graduations. Whatever the community needs at this time in terms of fashion, we are here as a resource.
What is one cultural teaching you would like to share to help people through this time and in visioning for the future?
Having faith in our community, recognizing that during times of difficulty, it is your network that will see you through. This approach has ensured that Africana Imports, my mom’s business survived in past challenging times and now it is working for us at Kutula. We really value the camaraderie with neighboring businesses in providing products and services needed by the community as well as having the community support the businesses by coming together to shop locally. We encourage black owned businesses to create key relationships with your client base and to serve your community as we need each other to continue to thrive in the communities that we live in. The approach we take is to provide authentically made african fashions and gifts in order to foster pride with each client as a part of the larger KUTULA family.
alents in action: