Akina Johnson grew up doing arts and crafts on the weekends with her mother and sister. Sometimes it was tie-dye; other times it was crochet. Johnson shares the stories of her early years while sitting inside her home studio in Abacoa. It’s the space where she designs one-of-a-kind, hand-dyed fashion and home decor for her eponymous business AKINA, which she launched in 2016.
Her studio is painted a refreshing aqua blue. Plush pillows designed in intricate indigo patterns sit near a window that’s cracked open, allowing a slight breeze to waft through and gently sway a collection of kimonos hanging on a clothing rack. There’s also a mirror and ballet barre (Johnson was a former dancer) that create a multi-purpose space for her to conveniently exercise and hang up textiles for color matching all in the same place.
From Hobby to Business
The business came to fruition when Johnson’s sister gave her a book detailing Shibori, an ancient Japanese dying technique. As someone with a fashion design background, Johnson was crafting scarves for friends when one of them asked if she’d design a set of pillows. She was up for the challenge and executed it, turning a few pillows into a brand.
Today, her line consists of home goods like pillows and linens, including napkins, tablecloths and table runners.
“Basically, if it’s fabric and it’s white, I can dye it,” she says.
The Design Process
First, Johnson folds her fabric and places hardware clamps strategically on the material before dying it to get the desired design.
“I’ve used binder clips. I’ve used rubber bands, popsicle sticks,” she laughs.
One of her most popular designs is kumo, which in Japanese can mean “spider” or “cloud” for its web-like aesthetic. It works in South Florida, with many adoring the style for its similarity in appearance to sand dollars picked at the beach.
Johnson favors the opportunity to fill custom orders, through which she works with clients to carry out their visions.
“A lot of times it has me thinking out of the box, having me do things that I normally wouldn’t’ do,” she says. “I really enjoy that because I get to come up with new color schemes.”
And since Shibori is a Japanese method, she wanted to also incorporate traditional Japanese fashion with the brand. She has a loungewear line of kimonos, which have proven to be popular for bridal parties. Her collections include both long and short styles in silk, many of which are hand stitched. But, you can also pair one with a T-shirt and a great pair of jeans, or throw one over a bathing suit.
Her designs are sold online and at local and national retailers, including Mecox Gardens in Palm Beach (additionally Dallas, Los Angeles and Napa), Decorators Unlimited, Island Home, Gypsy Life Surf Shop, House of Lavande and Lori Jayne.
AKINA / 561.386.9358 / studioakina.com / @studioakina