Style Insider: Aila Pernambuco, Founder of AP Cult

by HULA , August 9, 2019

Our next HULA Happenings event (scroll down for invite and RVSP)  is a Fashion Healing pop up with AP Cult. 

Aila Pernambuco  is the Founder and Creative Director of AP Cult – an accessories brand using sustainable materials and stones that have the power to heal: Mind, Body and Soul. Born in Brazil, brewed in New York, Aila is the daughter of two architects and grew up surrounded by beautiful design. A graduate of the renowned Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and almost a decade in NY studying and working for major fashion houses such as Burberry,  she moved to Shanghai and Hong Kong to work for big fashion manufacturers. Aila calls herself a modern nomad, soaking up the different cultures through her travels – now based in Hong Kong, she has created a brand that encompasses her findings.


How was AP Cult created?

Initially I started the company as a clothing and fashion accessories label back in 2016. The name was Yellow Fever Limited and we did a great fashion show in Bali at this very cool restaurant / gallery called Metis – it was a great success.  As time went on we shifted focus on to accessories, since they were getting good feedback and exposure.  The manufacturing process was far less complicated than garments but nonetheless intricate, time consuming and expensive. From our very first samples created, it gave me great joy and also the affirmation that I made the right decision.


Why did you decide to create accessories using predominantly stones?

I am a sucker for stones; I find them beautiful and full of energy, a close connection to our planet and its incredible natural resources. We use a lot of Brazilian sliced agate, each piece is one-of-a-kind and possesses its own unique healing power and beauty, making each design exclusive to the lucky owners.


How do you create your pieces and where do you source your materials from?

People inspire me, as do the places I travel to.  We always leave a bit of us wherever we go, and take something in return. AP Cult manufactures in Indonesia, China and Cambodia depending on the design and materials we are using. Indonesia has great craftsmanship, China has good technology and machinery. Cambodia has unique materials. Most of our Agate stones come from Brazil and Mexico, but we also have stones from the US and Africa. The majority of our pearls are from Tahiti – my friend Alex is Tahitian and has a pearl farm there, everything is done locally.  The other freshwater baroque pearls we use are from Chinese rivers.


Tell us about some of the benefits of wearing stones?

Some people believe that stones have healing properties, so wearing a piece of jewellery that has a certain stone in it might be beneficial to the person wearing it. I believe in the empowerment process. Every time I’m wearing a stone-piece I feel powerful and confident somehow, it brings out this great energy in me. The stones are beautiful and the pieces are fun and sophisticated making any outfit look incredible.


> Find out more about the healing properties of AP Cult stones



How does fashion tie in with this ‘healing’?

I think the way we dress is an expression of self, or at least it should be. The way we dress has a huge impact on how we feel or behave – when you dress your best, you feel your best. It’s a mirrored reflection. An outfit can alter one’s mood, can make or break a job interview or a date. The benefits of dressing up, and I’m not talking about anything fancy and expensive necessarily but rather in the sense of putting yourself together, grooming and dressing appropriate for your body type, can do wonders for one’s mental health.


What is personally your favourite stone?

I’m a big fan of stones, all kinds. They are equally beautiful and unique. What I love about stones is that no stone is the same as the other; each cut is different. Like us as individuals, each different in shape, form, colour. One stone dear to my heart is Topaz. When I turned fifteen, my mom handed me down her yellow topaz necklace that my grandmother had given her on her fifteenth birthday (in Brazil it is a big deal when a girl turns this age). I always loved that necklace and still wear it on special occasions.



Can the use of stones be sustainable in general?

It is possible, if you deal directly with the suppliers making sure you know where your stones come from and how they were mined. The mining process has been done for centuries; Cleopatra was rocking her jewels in ancient Egypt. However, industrialisation, poor environmental and labor laws, together with stone trafficking, are all big concerns when it comes to mining.  It is important to do research and investigate. We work with small family owned mines or trusted distributers, we find people that care for what they do, and do it out of love and passion.


What do you think is the allure of stones in this day and age?

Stones have been around for centuries, just like fashion, it comes and goes. Some seasons will be marble, agate, jade, while other times crystals and diamonds. I believe that the millennial generation look for more natural and meaningful pieces.  They are now the workforce, the consumers demanding certain preferences and personal taste to the market. 


If you could have one super power, what would it be?

I would have to say invisibility. Things that I could see from behind the scenes… (Laughs) 


How do you think your heritage has influenced your style?

I’m originally from Brazil and my mom is an architect, she used to design jewellery as well and work with a lot of semi precious stones. I grew up surrounded by it. She also adorned herself a lot; to the point I jokingly started calling her a Christmas tree. When it comes to accessories; I like them big, loud and colourful. 


Whose wardrobe would you like to raid?

It’s got to be Fashion Editor, Giovanna Battaglia Englebert!



Remember to RSVP to Fashion Healing, AP Cult Pop Up and HULA Happenings event.