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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

African Women Build: A Conversation with Natalie BeSpoke Binny


I was on Instagram a few weeks back, and found an account which is deeply rooted in the beauty of African expression, and of course I was intrigued and reached out to the Founder. Living and working in London, as a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, Natalie recognized the importance of one’s home environment, in coping with issues such as anxiety and low mood. Being of Ghanaian descent, Natalie grew up being surrounded by vibrant colours and prints, which she found to be uplifting, as a child. Motivated by her experience and  love of sewing, Natalie went on and built an eclectic homeware brand rooted in African expression called BeSpoke Binny. 



WCA: Tell us in your words about Bespoke Binny Home & 

Lifestyle?

BB: Bespoke Binny is a home and lifestyle brand for anyone who loves African prints and would like to express that love in their home and everyday life. Bespoke Binny also has a strong mission to spread positivity through the use of colour and uplifting words. 

WCA: When did you decide to form BBH&L?
BB: 
Bespoke Binny was started in 2013 after making myself items at home and receiving lots of compliments and advice to sell them. I tried a few craft markets and it's been a growth from there.

WCA: Describe in your words what best represents BBH&L. 

BB: African expression, attention to detail and positivity!

WCA: Share some tips or pointers that have helped you

 overcome any obstacles along the way of your life journey.

BB: Honestly the best lesson to learn in business is persistence. Obstacles unfortunately are inevitable and sometimes it can feel like an uphill struggle but keep going and always try to find a solution to any difficult that comes up.

WCA: Why did you feel it was something necessary in the

 U.K. to have such a company? 

                                         

BB: I don't know that I solely had U.K. in mind, I think I just recognized a gap in the market for varied uses of African prints. They are great in fashion but I also thought there were so many other things it could be used for and I wanted to explore this. I sell all over the world and most of my customers are actually USA based.

WCA: Have you made a footprint in other countries?

BB: Yes, I have sold to USA, France, Germany, Netherlands, Japan, Malaysia, Australia 

WCA: What are your plans in general for the future of 

BBH&L?

BB: To keep getting bigger and better

WCA: What advice do you have for other young aspiring 

African women who want to become entrepreneurs?

BB: I think as I mentioned before, persistence is so important and also whatever your idea is, it's worth pursuing, there will be others just like you who like what you create and see value in it, you just have to find you.

WCA: What’s your favorite quote and why?

BB: 'But screw your courage to the sticking place and we'll not fail' - Macbeth - because it's a message in persistence and courage!


                                         

This interview was conducted by Lerato Chiyangwa 

Communications & Public Relations Executive based in Dubai. She took up blogging as a form of self expression, and to change  the narrative of Africa. She enjoys watching series, staying up to  date with African news, meeting fellow unicorn creatives, and she makes a mean grilled chicken!  To keep up to date with her, frequently check her professional portfolio on - http://lerato-chiyangwa.strikingly.com/ Or follow her on Instagram - @i_am_leraflippa




For more on BeSpoke Binny Follow them @BespokeBinny and  visit their website at www.bespokebinny.com 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

ARE YOU A GIRL’S GIRL?, By Rita Obi


Honestly, what woman doesn't like a cute outfit, a good face beat, hair slayed , and a mani and pedi on a regular basis. I know I do! (Black girl emoji with hand raised)But let's be 100 percent honest with each other, we've all experienced an occasional slip up here and there. Sometimes we go two or more days with chipped nail polish , and sometimes we throw on one of our old wigs to hide the madness sitting on our heads. Does that rule you out at being a girl’s girl? Nope!
                       
Being a girl's girl goes beyond the glitz and the glam of wearing pink and fur! The focus is more on what dwells within rather than what lies on the surface.
A girls’ girl embodies class, integrity, seeks a drama free life and embraces the heck out of sisterhood. She's the girl you want to hang around and the woman you strive to be. Her positivity is contagious, her mannerisms are admirable, and honestly, she's just fly.




Maybe you're a girl's girl and don't even know it. Here are four signs you're a girl's girl: 

1. You Don't Hate On Other Women
Ladies, we all know the "stare down" that occurs sometimes between women. To be more specific I am talking about the one where you walk into a room with your girls, and a separate group of girls give you the ultimate stare. As soon as both groups make eye contact, for two seconds, it feels like a show down straight out of a western movie. 

In this moment one can be annoyed and think to ourselves "What exactly are they staring at? Do I have to cuss someone out tonight?" These situations can cause one a lot of anxiety and the impulse to react in a negative manner.

However, refraining from acting out of character proves that you are a girls girl! The confidence one  embodies to keeps them cool calm and collected is necessary. As a girls girl you enjoy drama free situations  and in fact, rather than rolling your eyes, you're not hesitant to throw a compliment their way. A girl's girl is all about women feeling beautiful and  self- love.

This includes showing love to other women and showering them with compliments. If you see a woman with a great hairstyle or a cute outfit you share your positive feedback with them about these things.  In an environment where women support each other, smiles are exchanged, spirits are boosted and the day is made! That's what a girl's girl is about!

2. Quality Time With Your Girls Is Everything
Yes, it's common for us to flood our girlfriends whatsapp inboxes with a breakdown of our most recent break up or keep them on the phone for two hours to discuss various individuals who have been getting on our nerves, but in reality, these stories can be draining and having quality time for e.g.  brunch with our girls makes this process just a bit easier.

 There's no greater feeling than getting dressed up to sit around a table with your closest girlfriends to order fancy food, talk about dating struggles, warrior stories, share beauty tips and discuss future plans. These moments are therapeutic, uplifting and truly exude girl power. And let's be honest, mimosas make everything better.

3. You Put The "Sister "back in Sisterhood
A favorite quote of mine states that "Women who understand how powerful they are do not give into envy power over meaningless things, instead they fight to maintain the beautiful mind of the sisterhood"- Bindu

A girl's girl knows what she's been through and how hard she's worked physically, emotionally, and spiritually to get where she is today. So instead of tearing her girlfriends down, she builds them up. She doesn't allow disagreements with her friends to push her away. She uses them as opportunities to relate, forgive, understand, discuss, share, and strengthen her friendships.
She values her girlfriends just as much as she values herself. And never turns her back on her girls no matter what. Overall, she's loyal.

4. You Value Your Connections With Other Women
In spite of what's perpetuated on silly reality shows and shade throwing memes, not all women are catty or feel the need to continuously compete with each other. A girl's girl is different. She understands how difficult it is for women in this world and makes it her duty to uplift and support other women.

As amazing as women are, a girl's girl still understands that happiness for women is an inside job. She knows that All women deal with insecurities, pain, and worries regardless of their social status. 

Instead of rolling her eyes at someone who seems to have much more than her or looking down on someone who seems to have less than her , she sees past it all and offers support the best way she knows how.





Rita Oluchi Obi,MPH is a humanitarian, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. She helps individuals build their visions through @buildingyou, provides children in rural villages of Nigeria with opportunities through @korfoundation and makes one’s stay in Nigeria as luxurious as possible through @ crystalcourtlekki. General instagram page is @oluchi_ob 


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

5 Things we can learn from African fashion brands about brand building, by Tatiana Kombo



The African Fashion industry is one that is booming and one we would say has made tremendous strides in showcasing the artistry and talent that exists on the continent and in the diaspora. However it goes beyond artistry, there is so much we can learn from the fashion industry specifically around branding. Here are 5 lessons: 


  1. Have a clear and authentic purpose


One of the most common traits between successful African entrepreneurial endeavors is that they are rooted in a culture of authenticity. Business structures are infused with credibility and allow for a genuine connection with a clientele. Successful African fashion brands intermingle tradition and innovation. Amazing results are brought about when the sophisticated techniques and soulfulness of the past are seamlessly merged with the vitality of contemporary identity.


  1. Harness the local


Purposeful design also drove Ethiopian supermodel and former World Health Organisation's Goodwill Ambassador Liya Kebede to create Lemlem in 2007. His goal was to promote economic independence in her home country, as well as to preserve the local craft of weaving by generating demands. Local women are the soul of the brand.


  1. Create a community


As the premier marketplace for African-inspired fashion and accessories, Zuvaa also focuses on fostering a community through meaningful stories and shared experiences. In this sense, Zuvaa is part of a bigger movement, a vibrant platform in which customers feel connected to the garments that represent a part of their identity.


  1. Leverage the digital


Nigerian designer Amaka Osakwe ’s African-inspired ready-to-wear label, Maki Oh, is one of Nigeria’s biggest fashion success stories. Osakwe has dressed the likes of Michelle Obama and Lupita Nyong’o and was a finalist for the prestigious LVMH Prize in 2014. One of her business breakthroughs interestingly happened when the  owner of the McMullen women's clothing boutique in Oakland reached out to her via Instagram, which led to a brilliant partnership with the boutique and Farfetch, creating an opportunity for Maki Oh to seep into the Californian fashion scene and beyond. Here, the power of visual branding and social media provided a real opportunity to stack successes. It lead to deliberately global partnerships, boosting a distinctly African contribution to the international marketplace.


  1. Pass on your wisdom and provide opportunities

Nigerian fashion designer Deola Sagoe proved a point and shed light on the value of African designers by becoming the first black woman to present a collection at AltaRoma fashion week in Italy. Noted Senegalese designer Adama Ndiaye who launched Dakar Fashion Week, gave way to a creative platform that promotes both her brandname and those of other African designers. Kelechi Anyadiegwu, who founded Nigerian fashion e-market platform Fashpa, is also passing along her wisdom to women of her continent. Currently, she is sharing her journey with aspiring entrepreneurs via her vlog, “Side Hustle to Empire.”



Photo Credit Tamara Flemming Relevant Images| Concept Design WCA 2017




Tatiana Kombo is a Paris-based creative consultant and communications coordinator working with emerging fashion brands, musical creatives and non-profit structures to design lucrative marketing growth strategies. She is French, Nigerien, Ukrainian and Iranian and also contributes to a variety of online platforms where she focuses on the intersections between fashion, culture, feminism, entrepreneurship, the African diaspora, and music.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

African Women Build: Creating Spaces for Women Owned Businesses in Sierra Leone


WCA's theme for this year is African Women Build! African women building is a mentorship initiative for African women to inspire younger women to grow, thrive and build. We officially launch our first interview for our theme this year with Ajara Marie owner of Women Mean Business a platform that provides business development and leadership workshops for young female entrepreneurs.  Ajara Marie is a professional, business mogul and marketing executive with over 15 years of experience, specializing in diaspora engagement and investment in Africa with a critical focus on women in business in Africa. She is a humanitarian that works to change the lives of young people especially girls in Africa. She enjoys spending time with family, investing in women and girls as well as traveling across the world. Ajara continues to inspire young women to get the necessary resources, tools, for their businesses in Sierra Leone and we couldn't be more proud of her work and her achievements in launching Women Mean Business for the fourth year! We chat with her to get some insights and wisdom on business, life, selfcare and professional growth. Enjoy! 



PhotoCredit Envisage Concepts Concept Design by WCA 2017

WCA: If you would give one advice to women entrepreneurs what would it be? 

AM: Never give up no matter how hard it seems or when you think things will never work out stay focused and determined. As an entrepreneur, things will never work out how you expect them to, but as long as you have a vision and a goal, work hard and push to achieve that goal.

WCA: Tell us about work life balance and what that means for you? 

AM: For me work- life balance is finding time to manage my work, family and self. As a business woman, it is sometimes difficult to make time, but I have learned how to balance my work and personal life. I love spending time with my family, traveling and hanging out with friends. So when the time comes, I make time to get ice cream with my family, or to go out for drinks with my friends and most importantly enjoying a Sunday beach day weather alone or with others. This is something that I don’t compromise with, in order to be successful, you mind, body and soul need to be at ease, so finding that balance is part of my journey.

WCA: Tell us 5 things you have learnt about work and business over the past 5 years?

AM: 
·         Work hard in the beginning to enjoy the benefits later
·         A business mentor is necessary on this journey to success
·         Network and build meaningful relationships
·         Self-Care, Self-Care, Self-care
·         Cross your I’s & T’s , have contracts and read the small print


PhotoCredit Envisage Concepts Concept Design by WCA 2017


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