Ali Mapletoft is the ever-inspiring force behind the brand, Age of Reason. “Beautiful, uncompromising things made in an empowering environment free from exploitation” is the heart of the culture, bringing a much-needed balance to the way many clothes and homewares are produced today.
Age of Reason was born to offer fierce and fabulous statement pieces, something Ali felt was missing in the fashion industry. Since coming across the hand-drawn silk scarves in social media years ago, I have watched the evolution of Ali’s playful creative genius. She has produced 15 collections which have popped up in a variety of locations from Liberty London and Harvey Nichols to Galeries Lafayette Beijing and Rockett St George.
Ali’s exemplary authenticity is a beautiful energy we need more of, it’s a pleasure to have her voice here.
You were born in Scotland & raised in Africa; what life lessons could we westerners benefit from learning?
Be more resourceful, do the work, nobody’s going to do it for you. There’s an amazing quote by George Monibot that I always come back to in my mind:
“If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire.” Ο
Age of Reason is such a distinctive brand, where does your inspiration come from?
I’m on a mission to create empowering work that inspires women to stand up and stand out. I’m constantly looking at how people style their lives, how they put clothing, accessories and homeware together to make statements. I love meaningful messages that bond us together and help us to rise up.
Though you no doubt are always seeking to push the extremes, do you try to live a balanced life? What does that mean to you?
I prioritise my family and so does my husband. You can always re-build a business, but you’ll never get your child’s formative years or the honeymoon period of your relationship back. I really believe that at the end of my life I won’t say I missed my family growing up because I worked too much. I make sure I spend time with the family every day. I could probably spend a bit more time on myself. I have a wonderful business coach Ebonie Allard, who’s helping me to build boundaries and balance my life better.
I think it’s important to get coaching if you’re trying to do something hard. An athlete wouldn’t be expected to go the distance alone, so why do we expect that of ourselves in business?
What centers you/brings you ‘home’ in a second?
My needs and wants are relatively simple, I like great food and a warm home. But the thing that makes me feel most centred is drawing and painting, which is lucky because that’s a huge part of my job!
What is the most challenging aspect of being authentically you (as in Ali)?
I think as women we are often pulled in many different directions; mother, wife, CEO, designer, friend, employer. Not all the roles we play are comfortable or fun, so it can be difficult to always feel like the most powerfully authentic version of yourself.
Recently I’ve managed to identify that as long as I have powerful creativity, adventure and freedom in my life, I’m a happy person. Even if freedom comes from something small like cycling to work along the seafront, it balances me.
Authenticity comes from being able to tackle life and work knowing that it’s absolutely fine to bring my desire for adventure, joy and creativity into everything, no matter how big or small. That’s my value filter.
You’re a passionate advocate for helping others both in the way you source materials and the women’s charity you support (Womankind Worldwide). What change would you like to see most in your lifetime?
I’d like to see more acceptance that women genuinely can do anything. I’d like to see my daughters living in a world where equality really is the norm and nobody questions it. I’d like to see the women who make high street fashion in the factories of India, China, and Bangladesh being paid a good wage. I’d like to be a part of a movement that changes the way we consume so that the makers thrive.
Name the one piece of your collection most people will love.
I think most people love the red lips cushion. It was inspired by the idea of women’s voices, speaking up and being heard. Having said that the “LOVE” scarf is a big favourite of mine too.
What makes you smile?
My daughters, cake, nice clothes, dogs, buying art supplies. I’m actually quite easily pleased if I can draw and eat nice things.
Find out more on the Age of Reason Studios website here.