History-maker and ‘The Folklore’ founder Amira Rasool raises $3.4M to help diverse brands enter global stores

Abu Mubarik April 18, 2024
Photo: amirarasool.com

Amira Rasool is the founder of The Folklore Group, a business-to-business platform that connects retailers with brands from emerging markets across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and South America. In 2022, Rasool built a new B2B version of her site and launched The Folklore Connect which allows brands to sell their products in bulk to larger retailers.

Today, the platform serves a diverse range of consumer companies, including those in beauty, health and wellness. The startup is now introducing new services to help brands with what they need to scale, including capital and talent. This comes on the heels of $3.4 million raised in a seed funding round led by Benchstrength, a VC firm by ex-General Catalyst partners Kenneth Chenault Jr and John Monagle.

The raise also saw the participation of existing investors Slauson & Co, Techstars, and Black Tech Nation Ventures. This brings the total funding raised by the startup to $6.2 million, according to Tech Crunch.

“The key to The Folklore’s consistent user and revenue growth, is continuing to build things that make sense for the customers we are targeting. We are not trying to expand too much, and just build something we think they might like; we are actually going to talk to the brands and see what the majority need, and that’s what we’re going to focus on,” said Rasool.

Brands can now get working capital loans of up to $1 million from the startup’s partners through Folklore Capital. Rasool said the pilot showed brands borrowed $10,000–$30,000.

Her startup also offers a labor marketplace for brands that can’t hire full-time teams but need talent sometimes.

Rasool started her company after discovering on a trip to South Africa clothing brands she had never seen or heard of before in America. After inquiring, she realized the challenge such brands face in bringing their goods to the States.

She soon realized that the challenge was not a “South African” problem but an African problem. According to her, many of the companies could not have their apparel outside of African borders because they didn’t have the technology and infrastructure to ship internationally or access U.S. retailers. 

This led to the birth of her fashion empire, The Folklore Group. The company sells men’s and women’s apparel and accessories including homeware brands from Africa. In July 2021 alone, she raised $1.7 million in pre-seed investments. She became one of the youngest Black women to raise over $1M to put African fashion on the map.

To start her company, Rasool returned to South Africa, after her initial visit, to get a Masters in African Studies at the University of Cape Town. She didn’t end it there. She took trips to Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya where she built a connection with local brands.

She launched her company in 2018 with $30,000. According to her, $20,000 was from savings working with V Magazine and freelance writing while $10,000 came from her father. Her initial staff included an intern and her mother. Her mother shipped the products from her place to customers. After raising $1.7 million in pre-seed investments, she hired 12 employees in a sweeping reform and built a new B2B version of her site to enable brands to sell their products in bulk to larger retailers.

Rasool loved fashion growing up. While in high school, she started a fashion blog. She later worked for magazines like Marie Claire and Women’s Wear Daily as an intern while studying at Rutgers University.

In her final year semester of college, the South Orange, New Jersey, native landed a role as a fashion assistant at V Magazine.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: April 18, 2024


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