Monday, 28 December 2009


I have been in Accra for over a week now and (sorry to make you all jealous....but.....) it is hot, gorgeous and I am having an awesome time. This Ghana experience over-rides my last - exceedingly. I am finally on a good internet connection after 2 other tries and have so much to write but may have to document it all on my return as just too much to say and i need to add the pics to make full sense of my words.

But re the akabi shoot...well the photographer is not the problem at all..we have a few options but the models...we have a girl who has worked with Exopa in Ghana previously and has an African look but commercial....i could see  her in Arise magazine or something, though not dark enough for my liking but she is professional and on time...which (as a brit) is important, then we have another girl who has the most beautiful maroon skin smooth as chocolate, dark thick eyebrows and an innnocent look and who I feel looks great in the pictures but is not as experienced or professional. Its hard to choose.

We have decided against Cape Coast and have located an equally good location as advised by the photographer who did a shoot their previously. It has history, rough buildings, slightly eerie in a way but the look I am seeking - so new years day will find us down there.

The one thing I that disappoints me trying to do business in Ghana as a Brit is that even though my skin is just like theirs - as a fellow black person - all they see is English and think being English comes with money so you can imagine the haggle...

I am not innocent to this - I have travelled alot and get that in many places and it is normal in market areas for some level of bartering or haggling to take place but for business we all need to work together to help each other but....hey life....and reality....resonates through my head.

SO i will stop

Overall Accra is a bustling city that has some secret beauties that I will soon post ..... so wait and see.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Black Star here I come!

Today is the day and you would think being such an organiser as I am that today i would be relaxed, fresh ready to fly...yet I am not.

The annoyances of 'life' have stepped in to frustrate me. I had everything in place..picked up my woven pieces from Heba and I am happy - yes some minor issues but they are first samples and there are ways to hide the bad points in the photoshoot so I am not worried about that...and when it comes to making clothing I am a perfectionist but try to be a realist too. But the frustrating thing is the Plan B seamstress (who annoyingly has my first name...maybe the name made me work with her!) I cancelled going to another factory in south london as i thought it would be difficult for me to be going back and forth with work hours etc so I went with this seamstress as she is also based in east london. When i called she acted confident but wanted to meet so we met last monday and i brought 3 of the 6 pieces i needed sown. She admittedly was a bit weird in the sense that i didnt quite get her but she again 'acted' confident and said she will get her friend who shares her studio to sew with her. That that week she had a deadline for the thurs/fri but sunday they will get all those 3 done between them and if i cut out the last 3 styles they could do them for me to collect on wednesday. I wanted it for tuesday but agreed on the wednesday.

SO why oh why has it take two people 4 days to only do 3 of the 6 pieces???? This is crazy and I am not a happy bunny.

One thing my jamaican mum told me that resonates even more now is 'if ya spirit nah tek dem dont go wid dem' and i must go with my mind and my first instinct. In retrospect (oh the joys of hindsight - dont you just hate hindsight and the lessons she teaches....)

I had cancelled using the other factory but now regret it...they had a better set up too and more professional. But hey i still have today though it means running out of work at lunch to get to bethnal green to get back to work, get to the bank, fix my sunglasses and get home to pick up my two suitcases and large carry on bag - GIA please dont be silly with weights now - but thank God i did book with Ghana International rather than BA! How depressing would that be with all the strikes.

Overall God is good - as I said I am an organiser and I always have another plan - Plan C are the workshop in Ghana who are also sewing for me for my bridal business - Ruth can sew up any pieces not finished.

Okay so I have had my in with anger out with love - breeeeeaaaaatttthhhheeee - all shall be well....sunshine I am looking forward to being covered by you!

Ghana here I come!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Pencil cool

Jewelry designer Maria Cristina Bellucci has created an awesome and contemporary collection of accessories sliced, diced and upcycled from colour pencil stubs

SO much creativity out there and proves recycling can be contemporary.

1 day until i fly!

Last night i sat with David my business mentor and the rest of his mentees. With gave a catch up over the last year of mentorship with him and from hearing other peoples stories good and bad and seeing where they are at it made me quite relaxed that I havent done as slowly or badly as i thought. David himself said that he prefers us to go slow then to go fast.

I know that i have missed dates to get the summer range in stores and they are cutting back on their budgets for that season and preparing for winter 2010 AND sticking to who they know so it seems i will have to sell via other means direct to customer and online which also means my costs wont have to be so high as i thought they would be as i am cutting out the middle man.

I also brought one of the parachute jackets, 4 of the eco print bamboo tees and an african cotton vest dress style to the meeting and the response i got was quite positive. At the moment its been family giving their opinions and the odd close friend who has passed by my studio/bedroom :) and commented on how they liked particular styles. Quite promising really and helps to boost my confidence too.

So i have two suitcases packed - one with my stuff and the other with akabi clothing (and the little teddies too!!) I can only carry 23kg in each suitcases so i am trying to be careful not to overload and am deciding on putting some stuff back.

I must admit i am getting evern more excited but also very nervous too. This is an important trip for both businesses and for personal so lots of emotions going on at once but things are looking good on all counts and i truly thank God for opening doors.

What is positive also is that though the mentorship programme finishes in jan 2010 that David will continue it for at least another 6 months as there is more funding coming from europe! That will really help. Oh and he also said i must have at least one sale before end of march 2010. Better get moving!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Babies are coming!

Things are going good good good .... aside from the realism that I do not make a good dyer!! but practice makes perfect.

Samples from Kenya are confirmed will be with me today and tomorrow and looking at the invoice though a significant price is actually not as bad as i though it would be including delivery etc so very pleased as it means though my woven styles would be pricey due to materials and workmanship...that my knit/jersey styles will be reasonable price to wholesale and retail.

My leotard all in one style has been named as my 'lady gaga' outfit.... not as outrageous as she would dress but interesting enough and I would like to send some of them to particular music artists to wear as I think that style in particular has the X-factor (how rubbish was the result last night...i am persuaded that its old ladies that vote these days as Joe did not deserve to win....i seriously give up on that show) but 'Small Island' on BBC1 (adaptation of Andrea Levy book) was fantastic (and a good version of the book - not too much dramatic license in there) and highlighted to me another aspect of my parents and grandparents when they came over to London from the Caribbean. Great costumes too - well done beeb!

ANYWAY back to important things :) seamstress in London should be finished by Wednesday (the day BEFORE i leave!) and so will the factory in London too. SO I think Wednesday will be a run around day. Good thing i started packing my clothes last night - so just to sort out shoes, toiletries, accessories - stuff for photoshoot......

Things are going well in Ghana - photographer, model, venue in place - its all very very exciting and I am a little overwhelmed.

So getting one more new suitcase as my old ones have been around the world to a point that they are screaming to be laid to rest (good ol' shall be highly missed...but 4-wheelers are the way to go especially when you have to carry two suitcases AND a carry on poor back). Once i get that then will pack all my samples ready to fly oh and all the little cant travel to stay with people and not bring a 'lickle' (jamaican style) something for the 'aunties' (african style) et al.

Therefore nearly there but not too much more to do!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009


I just got back from the embroiderers today and saw the FSI tagline for the back of the baseball jacket.
Bright orange on khaki green recycled looks amazing!

I am very excited.

I will go to see the seamstress (option B as the factory wont be able to finish all samples) i see her this weekend and will take out all pieces that I will cut out and prepare for her so she just has to sew.

I cant wait to see them all too.

Oh and Kenya factory have finished my samples too and they will be on their way to me via switzerland (dont ask!!) so i pray i pray i pray ... they come to me by monday evening...

how much is fed ex switz to uk?????

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

eco print bamboo tees!

Just got an email from eco tshirt printers who are printing on my tees (organic cotton and bamboo) they will be done and with me this thursday or friday!


Organic cotton from Kenya

I received some organic cotton from kenya last night from the factory and they are, purple and charcoal. I will make up the 5 way jacket in these 3 colour options.

I attempted to hand dye some organic trimmings and though they came out kinda alright (a few tie dye looking parts !!) but the colour match to the fabric is a little trial and error...what to do what to do :)

but they match the drawcords anyway.

But yet another annoyance (private scream!!) one of two seamstresses I have found has subsequently hurt her back the day I am to come over and bring her the pieces and cannot sew for me....aaaagggghhhhhhh (public scream). Good thing i had another one though she is obviously not a phone person so i do have to chase her a little bit. I just hope that she can do them all - 3 all in ones, 2 pants, 2 jackets in less than a week
I will pray pray shall get done
(oh wow she just now text me back....good good)

Either way I am happy to get my fabric, the factory in london are actually nearly done so i will visit them a few times over the next 7 days. Its just very intense and very difficult to get around to do these things when you work but i cant afford not to work. Got my credit card bill this week and screamed out loud (yep i am tending to scream quite a bit recently - stress, panic, stress,  panic) but once the funding comes through i will be able to recoup the debt on that which will bring me back to zero.

slowly slowly but i am getting there

lots more psotings to come over the next week...enjoy the ride...its gonna be bumpy

Monday, 7 December 2009

Asos goes African

Had to make note of this....according to sources at drapers record magazine, okay .... the magazine itself :)
Asos will firstly be opening up an Ethical part to the site 'The Green Room' supporting and showcase ethical brands AND more interestingly will be starting an Asos Africa Range

Asos is seeking new brands for the site and said its criteria was brands or labels that “promote people and the planet”.

To support The Green Room, Asos is to launch an ethical own-brand range called Asos Africa selling clothes sourced from community projects across Africa. The etailer will also team up with fashion bloggers who will create organic T-shirt designs. 

Drapers Record

I will certainly be on their case to showcase this space.

project africa rolls on...i can see the finish line

This weekend was the most tiring of all the last 6 months setting up business....i am already exhausted but had a mission including going across to the 3 areas of london in one day for various 'projects'. One included meeting with an embroiderer to do my tagline on the back of my cropped baseball jacket...and he will also do the logos....

i will get the first embroideries early this week but need to complete all designs to take back to him to embroider the logos before i travel to Ghana next week.

One week to go!

I admit last weekend i did kinda panic a little after i came back from the factory as they are going slower than hoped and i was unsure they would complete in time. But thank God i have two seamstresses in place to take over to make sure i can get all done i time.

The only thing that is strange is my impression of everything as i get closer to not sure i am happy with the designs, some of the samples, the logo, the print ideas.....but as a designer by trade i know that is what tends to happen when you look at something over and over again. But i will focus focus focus

On a positive my boyfr (who is being a sweet sweet guy and a great support) has tracked down another 2 photographers in Ghana for the the photography tutor we were to work with had a bad motorcycle accident some months back. So we have that in place, model and make up artist to be confirmed but options there. I am hoping to do a video shoot alongside the real shoot to go on you tube...i am getting excited btu will feel better once all 'my babies' are in my arms :)

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Sample update

Ok today i have a lot to say with 3 postings...well my mind is all over th eplace at the moment so much that i hardly have time to myself and sleep is a well needed friend that is not visited enough these days. 2 weeks til i fly away to the land of the Black Star... Accra, Ghana here i come.

But for now its a little bit of panic stations...the workshop in London are on a bit of a go slow. In two weeks they have made 4 pieces and they are not completely finished...there are 3 other styles in 2 or 3 colour ways and they cant promise to have them done for me to take to Ghana for the fashion shoot.

Whatever happens i will have my sample babies...

There is an option B but they are based in south london and i am east so it can be a issue getting to them and they charge twice as much but i guess i will learn from this first range how to get things done on time.

I am even considering not having a winter range but producing only a summer SS11 to give me time to get things in place as the winter season will only be rushed. Plus with my initial concept to use Batik and Kente within the range it may be better for summer...though Kente would be better for winter...oh my brains .. too much thinking :)

So now i have 3 more styles to get done and one that iwll have to wait until i am in Ghana as I will work with the batiker to do an all over print and get it made int he workshop i am working with there.

I do see it going well and I do see the clothing photographed in the locations i am thinkig of there and it being a great shoot. (though the photography tutor who would be doing the shoot is still recovering from a motorcycle accident so may not be well enough...BUT according to my Boyfr his students may be available and able to do the shoot.

Either way i am keeping calm... not thinking of the christmas presents i need to buy for my 9 nieces nephews and God-children, for my mum, boyfr mum and dad and aunty in Ghana...or the things i need for my trip OR the business stuff to sort out before i go OR the uni work i have to do in the next 10 days...mmmh i am not panicking but keeping calm and leaving it in Gods hands...let him worry about it....and me....welll i am off to bed...resting my head. Tomorrow is another day!


I am looking into various African charities and charities directed to women empowerment and am considering a being

As quoted on their about us page

Send a Cow helps African farmers grow enough food to feed their families, sell produce and develop small businesses that last. Inspired by our Christian values, we provide training, livestock, seeds and ongoing support; and help families to make the most of the land and resources they already have.
In turn, these families then pass on young livestock, seeds or training to others. And so on. And so on. This ‘Pass it On’ principle not only builds stronger communities, it allows us to help even more people to develop skills, confidence and self respect. People are happier and healthier, children are educated, homes are improved and communities are more harmonious.

Could be one to donate a percentage of profits to

new eco mag..sublime

The first international sustainable lifestyle magazine

Wow - what a statement

Now its not so new - but it is relatively new for me as i have only started to read this mag for the last two issues and i admit i got them discounted at a trade event so.....okay im late.... but i must say its a good educational read and this months issue with live aid initiator Claire Bertchinger had some interesting words of wisdom.

Firstly the butterfly effect and how the movements, flutterings of a butterfly can effect and cause chaos in the elements on another side of the world...chaos theory that is and she relates it to us being people who make a difference or small movements in one place in t he world that can help people and cause a BIG change in another side of the world.

Plus loving the quote, which is my personal mantra for the last 3 months admittedly stolen from Mahatma Gandhi, to be the change you want to powerful so meaningful and so that is what i am aiming with the business and what i do in sustainability.

Feel like i have been in church!

But for me reading up on sustainability, and studying Ethical Fashion at present, and with the Copenhagen Climate Summit just around the corner, more and more makes me consider life in a new way. i imagine earth as it must have been in the day of Adam and Eve and look at how it is now and people so so sooooo concerned with materialism and the NEED to have the latest gadget.

I have been told that i really should have a blackberry and my colleagues at work (yep i work too as well as doing my masters AND establishing two businesses...i mean who do i think i am....crazy!!) and i think in my room at work i am the only one without either an iPod Touch or an iPhone...the peer pressure to give in.

I do love those objects of desire and have been a fan and user of apple product for nearly 10 years now but i am aiming to simplify my life and not to have too much things around living thats my my close friends know the quiet parts of Canada and the Caribbean is my settling this space :)

Sunday, 29 November 2009


Oh my gosh! One of my favourite female graf artists is going slightly eco this season .... (though miss van you still rock...though a little crazy at times you still hold it down for me!)

I just spotted her The Freestyle Eco-Block Ring colab with Good Wood.

Toofly was inspired by her favorite tunes as well as the graphic ethnic shapes native to her home country of Ecuador to create the Eco-Block ring. The rings are beautiful neon colored wooden pieces that were hand crafted in Ecuador and hand painted by Toofly and her sister Joanne Marie. (

NOW these are fly!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Glitch in the Matrix

Two major things...

Firstly - i contemplated converting to conventional printing for my tee shirt graphics as the supplier i was going to use could not do the printing on the bright colours i wanted with their eco-dyes
But thank God whilst researching for the Eco Design Fair happening this weekend I came across another eco-friendly screen printing company!

Second issue - not so good - the lovely Emily is now working two full time jobs (dont ask me how) but she wont be able to work for me in the capacity that she has. I feel Emily is a great patterncutter and a professional and am afraid to let her go but i dont want to force her to overwork to include me in her busy timetable... its a crying crying shame and i will now have to seek a replacement...begrudgingly

oh and...3 weeks and counting to get all my stuff together...still yet to call David my mentor...embarrassed, busy, ashamed, i dont know but i need to speak with him for a catch up soon.

Lastly forgot to bridal business Latibeau is now Ltd!! It is officially registered as a social enterprise not for profit business and exciting start to what I believe will be a great empire in the near this space!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

My Third Tradeshow

I have just got back from presenting at the Ethical Fashion Forum's first Global Sourcing Marketplace tradeshow.   I have done tradeshows twice before and was a little anxious of what to bring as not everything is in place so i decided to promote my ethical bridal business Latibeau Ltd...its a social enterprise company producing in Ghana, West Africa.

I made some very interesting new contacts and thave to get networking even more as I plan to connect more with Cool Ideas and to visit Phenix when i travel to Uganda next year. Aura Textiles was also good and so I now have a supplier I have been seeking for gift products for Latibeau.

Talking with Mantisworld as always, was interesting and an eye opener into the reasons why trading with Africa is a problem and that only 3% of cotton boll farmed in Africa is actually produced in Africa and that, shockingly, the other 97% is sent to India to be spun into the cotton fabric. (I am still confirming percentages for my own research but these figures are not far off). Overall I am glad to have spoken with them and have been told that there will be a possibility to visit their factory in Tanzania too when I do my East Africa trip (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania)

One contact that I did make and may seek to intern with along with seeking that from Made-By, was BioRe / Remei in Switzerland. They have a project with Tanzania but inform me that the cotton farm is far from the airport and that i will need a driver to get there and its very expensive and risky. So more research needed. I met another lady - Joy - a jewellery designer from Uganda who has many contacts there and can help me to get around and to meet the right people.

Annegret from Choolips right) was there who gave an encouraging word especially about working with Ghana and she did a seminar on how she started and her German heritage and interest in the slave trade. She mentioned her awards, the hard times, the challenges and her findings. It was interesting to hear how she actually started business in 2003 I believe and did LFW but took a year out as she didnt like some things she saw in fashion and reevaluated her business values. She also mentioned about working in a way that focused on bringing old textile crafts in a way that was right to be sold on the high street and it made me think re Akabi and the way I am doing business. But it seems to be alot of trial and error and lots of learnings too. I was inspired even more by the event for my AW10 collection.. so when I go to Ghana at christmas I will be meeting with artisans to present my ideas for that and get things rolling ahead of time...

Most importantly I sold half of the fabrics I was aiming to and so recouped some money to pay for my samples.

Overall much kudos to Tamsin, Dani, Joey, Josie and the team at EFF for the great start to this annual tradeshow. It left a positive vibe and was great to see people connecting, working together and not apart from each other.

Looking forward to next years event.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

New made in Africa clothing brand...mmmmmhhhhmmmh

JOHARI - ethical fashion handmade in Kenya

a new label i am very excited about and an encouragment to what i am planning with Akabi...i cant wait to visit Kenya next year

Johari, which means ‘something precious’ in Swahili, is a Social Enterprise that not only produces exquisite hand-crafted clothes and jewellery, but creates opportunities for vulnerable young woman in Kenya - so that they can build a living for themselves and their families. 

Johari supports sustainability as 100% of the profit made by Johari is used to support Miale Community Programmes of the Sumerian Foundation, one of which is our Apprenticeship scheme.

(ref from johari website)

These dresses are two of my favourite from the SS09 collection, the SS10 is looking great and i thank Denise Ross for a sneak preview

Check out the foundation too...

Supporting South Africa

Came across this interesting website that is promoting South Africa and ethical fashion. I know there is a lot of great design skill coming from SA and im loving the work this initiative is doing.

NOKAK 'responsible living with style'

Saturday, 14 November 2009

5 weeks to go...the race is on

I have just 5 weeks to get all my Akabi samples made up to take with me to do the photo shoot when I visit Ghana. Things with Kenya are going well. I just need to move quicker on my side.

I went zip hunting as the Kenyan factory cannot supply the zips unless i order a bulk as they order them from their YKK supplier who only sells in 100 piece orders per colour. So i went to suppliers in the UK and haberdasheries only to not find the right colours in the open ended metal teeth cotton tape zips i need (something i really should have researched ahead of time i guess...) so i decided to and was advised to by a fellow fashionista who has set up her own label to dye them. SO i hunted for natural dyes as i also wanted to dye the recycled polyester i have and firstly it was a nightmare to find the dyes and to get them in the 2 days i needed before i post out the zips to kenya AND you cannot dye nylons with natural dyes or even standard dylon dyes! It needs an acid system to dye it. On deep thought i decided to scrap the extra colour ways i wanted the nylon to be and decided to use the colours it was available in.

Its all a bit of trial and error this season 1.

I am also concerned if i have totally missed it for spring summer 2010 and if i should aim for winter??? but i feel i could still approach the stores and sell online too. But i may have to order so many styles in sizes and colours by easter when i go out to kenya and bring them back with me so they can go straight to stores.

There is so much to do and i am feeling more and more tired with work, uni and two businesses but i am nearly there and christmas will be for business but also for holiday.... i cant wait :)

So wednesday i sit with Heba to get all the woven styles made up ... making that 8 styles i believe....aagggghhh i just remembered I need to dye the hemp fabric!

roll on chrimbo ....

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

kenya factory

Today was a positive for sampling...i spoke this morning with the factory in Kenya and after emails back and forth they confirmed they are able to do all the jersey styles but one. The most complicated but most creative one. I knew i was pushing it with that style but mmmmh they are asking not to but will supply the coloured organic cotton so I can make it up elsewhere.

But i have persuaded them to continue with a style they already did a rough sample of for me but said to leave the eyelets and rivets etc as they dont have the right machinery so i will have to get them completed here.

I now need to contact Heba again in order to see if they can take it or Or speak with Eden Sampling who are not so local for me to take fabric back and forth too but they may have to be plan b or c right now :)

But I am pleased with Kenya just gotta get all the trimmings for them and the graphics needed to be done too in a very short time but i should have all back to me by the end of November. The courier recommended is cheaper and actually more reliable than DHL (isnt that funny!) and so I will test them out and then in the new year for production I will join the container shipping with the factories sister company in slowly but surely its all coming into fruition. I am birthing one of two babies.

To Ankara or not to ankara...that is the question

I had a rather interesting conversation last night with a ghanaian lady and fellow designer who wants to promote Africa...well to be precise Ghana... through her design business. She has a label that is not 'typically' african i.e wax print, hollandais, woodin, ankara.... her style focuses on techniques used rather than be overally african in outlook. Her clothing is very Margaret Howell-esque clean, understated...reminds me of fashion in Scandinavia which is more about cut rather than print emblazoned and like japanese designers it doesnt shout to you but speaks with grace and a knowing of who it is.

I had a battle with me for a while and something that this lady and I seemed to agree upon. It is a slight annoyance of designers or shops who sell ankara fashion to the european market as a new invention but it is a simple dress just made in fabric that has been known to be 'poor mans' fabric in some African countries but yet these stores and designers will sell it for ridiculous prices. The worse is when they have had it made ni Africa and those in the know KNOW that it was cheap to make as there are tailors who will charge incomparison - small prices for what is more than quadrupled in the shop. And i dont buy into the fact of it being about import charges and costs .... i dont buy it.

There is a company whose regular campaigns i simply adore and wish they showed at the major fashion week. They are a dutch company (now i wont go into the origins of ankara / wax print fabric) and they supply the fabric but also show in a campaign how it can be used

Here is their recent campaign story



Thursday, 29 October 2009

Extremely thought provoking

I 'borrowed' this pic from a networking mate Katie Hart..from her website

She is a postgraduate student at Central Saint Martings college of art and design and her project aim and focus of her MA Design Studies ( is to 'address how we can reduce fashion consumption patterns and adopt a more conscious and sustainable approach to shopping"

She has some great ideas in the pipeline to effect the way we view shopping and how much we consume and looking at ways of communicating this to the public. I have alot of support for her in this initiative and look forward to seeing what she will bring in to the public over the next year and beyond

she will be exhibiting her work at the MA Design Studies Final Exhibition, Applied Imagination – Bringing Method to the Madness at T2 Truman Brewery - from 4th – 8th December 2009.

Snail speed

Things are moving slower than I need right now....I was planning to complete all designs made up in real fabric by end Sept mid Oct. Its now end Oct and I have just got all my patterns back ready to make up....Kenya is on the slow side to respond to my emails and i cant post them out until they give me the all clear and I cant make them up here as Kenya wil be supplying the bio cotton and colours and prints and embroideries....

The workshop Heba are overwhelmed with equally urgent work and so I will have to wait 6 weeks to get back all my samples. They showed me a couple they tested out...which took a week to do but were good. The first one had things i would change i.e pleats in the wrong direction...but hey the toile was like that though I did tell them to follow the edited and correct patterns...but easy mistake and they can amend it for me.

Funds are on the low side still and funding I expected have not manifested so its a difficult one right now to balance out the money side of things...normal small business issues.

I am just eager to see them made up. Emily updated the windbreaker style and it was much more voluminous now and looked GOOD. I really wanna see it in the flesh now and cant wait! I am still excited though and believe I will have ready for Christmas. Mentor David is soon back form his hols so I am a little anxious to tell him that i have nothing to show him. I am praying that he will continue to mentor me for another year as I think when I come to him with samples and photo shoot then he will be able to advise me more as to getting into stores etc right now its a waiting game and not much he can do except help with contracts which has been very useful.

I, by chance, met lovely Nicola Wood from Beautiful Soul at Heba this week. We met previously at a networking event and encouraged me to keep going. Her business though in its early days has two seasons under its belt so she gave me advice from her experience in order to keep going and not to give up even when time gets tighter and busier.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Ascending to new heights!

Ok so i may be a bit late as i just realised Ascension (previously known as Adili) have a blog.

I actually preferred the name Adili it had a great meaning but i understand their reasons for change anyhow they are one of the first online ethical supply bases for new ethical designers and one that I plan to sell my range of Akabi to.

The blog is cool though and they have their latest AW09 range on the main site too. I have noticed a change in the look of what they are doing..the fashion pieces and then the basic basics - very American Apparel - seems to be the way to go and i better take note. Give the people the staple pieces needed for their wardrobe but all ethical and organic...i love it...i also love that the London store is due to open in November...i cant wait!

Monday, 26 October 2009


Do you rememeber the cartoon...I am such an 80s kid!

Well after getting stuck in customs my little teddy friends have arrived safe and sound

Deciding on which maker to use as I really don't want to go down the China route though it is cheaper .... i will stick to my ladies homemade method. The final product is very good and it has the edge i need and room for development of design too.

Watch this space with info of where to buy!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

patterns done

praise the Lord, Hallelujah!
Emily you are a superstar.

I have the patterns all completed and will be ready by Tuesday to post out to Kenya. I have decided to definitely go with them but one of the styles I will make up in Ghana as I want it to be done by batik as an allover print as i feel my collection lacks prints.

But i did a proper colour overview and i was so pleased with how the sketches look and i am really excited with a leotard piece i have...kinda funky and probably will be the most expensive piece to buy - very fashion very edgy but very britsh urban. The colours I am now using give it more life as i originally was going to do them muted but i want to add fun to my range and that is important.

Ok so will post to kenya through dhl and should God willing get them back before I go to Ghana for christmas where i will do a photoshoot.

I have a model in Togo where i will be visiting and am preparing an african effect shoot.

I saw a great shoot done in this months Arise magazine this month (doesnt alicia look beautiful as always...aaahh) and the shoot had a very raw feel though i am not sure where they did it. They used a very edgy Kenyan model called Ajuma i believe and the shoot was fantastic. The composition, the background etc etc It inspires me. But I am still thinking youthful edgy or raw edgy....once the samples come i will know for sure but im thinking to def do it in Ghana/Togo and probably do a version here in the Uk too. but samples ... i cant wait til they are completed!

representing Africa

I have been watching for a while now and I am loving their representatiion of African made designs and african designers. I want to see this website grow to be the asos for africa and hope soon to give them a new angle of african made product with Akabi clothing designs.

nigerian made bags - what a beauty

Another design Abiola who has a desire to work with her homeland Nigeria and help to represent african made product in the fashion industry

She has been working hard on establishing her label Jezreel - the hebrew word meaning 'God plants'. I gotta plug this brand for the innovative designs in accessories. She fuses leather and ankara and creates beautiful accessory pieces you will love for your wardrobe

Her tenacity to get her business up and running is an encouragement to new designers

Go Abi!

check out designs at they can be bought through my asho website store
(see following post!)

Thursday, 22 October 2009


I came across this new label - Gadofka a young german stroke ethiopian girl who amalgamates african print fashion into her design

the designs are crazy-beautiful. I see alot of designers who mix the african fabrics with street styling and some times it often just looks wrong but i feel this designer has brought in her own heritage and personal style into the pattern cutting and design vision.

The label GADOFKA is Achamyelsh Biftu Bojia a womangirl whose imagination is filled with curiosity,innocence,fantasy,theatre, experimental films, modern dance , no boundaries, tradition and music. Achamyelesh Biftu Bojia was born in Germany and is originally from Ethiopia but she believes in another life she was married to Jean Michel Basquiat and the daughter of Miles Davies.However Gadofka was born in 2008 after Achamyelesh Biftu Bojia created the collection AFRICANICALPROGRESSIVEMADNESS for A/W 09, which is expressing all her experience in life and everything she has observed trough her journey so far. That includes the African heritage materials from Ethiopia and Nigeria. The collection itself is an echo for her life. Gadofka is a storyteller, it is the messenger of the african culture . Every print is telling a vibrant colourful story. Achamyelesh Biftu Bojia is a messenger of her own and culture, a true storyteller. She celebrates life and she believes in no boundaries and with a little bit of fantasy, braveness ,patience and optimism we can break limitations!

Achamyelsh Biftu Boija, we gotta talk girl

Loving it!

Saturday, 17 October 2009


Emily is back on completing my patterns and I have managed to get a morning to go down to Heba - a womens project in brick lane in london...well recommended

"Our enterprise programme offers production work through links with new designers, the opportunity to become involved in product design at Heba and a small number of subsidised workspaces for women who want to start a new business."

I am making my woven styles with them as i have heard alot about them and love the work they are doing with women. Initiatives like them make me desire more and more to set something up like this in Africa.

So im testing them out now on my woven styles and still planning to work with Kenya on my jersey styles as they have the bio(organic)cotton available in many colours.   The main thing is logistics now....order my bamboo., soy and hemp cottons from the USA and make them up in Ghana as i can get my printing batik etc all done there and madeup and i have a good courier service in place; OR make them in Kenya using their available organic cotton but logistically it can be issues.

Have a limited amount of fabrics in my first range OR have a variety but better logistics...tough decision. SO now i will test both methods as its mostly down to quality and i still have to test Ghana out for sewing and production

(you are probably shocked by the picture....i need to start adding pictures again-make the blog more fun! more will follow...)

Sunday, 11 October 2009


Feeling a little bit out of it last few weeks as everything is piling on more and more. My planning is proving okay but it is difficult to have a personal life whilst setting up business. One of the tough sides of business. I look back to my days of interning with a small designer after i left university and i remember how she worked day and night night and day, i saw her marriage falling apart and her new baby suffering from lack of nurturing from his mother. With that in mind I tell myself to get things in check.

I do believe that season two will be easier than one as at present pricing and timings are all over the place as I am in a learning position but by next season I will have something to base my pricings and timings on. So what is happening now? Emily has started to edit my patterns and I will be taking them to Heba this week (a womens cooperative workshop in Brick lane - lots of small design companies use them and their reputation is good and the finished product also is good). They will make up product for both companies. I also have to send patterns to kenya to be made up too. (via germany) I am deciding to make all my jersey styles organic cotton now. Though i have already spent a chunk of my budget on fabrics that finally came through customs (it wasn't that expensive a fee really - just annoying like i said) but i am thinking the bio/organic cotton that the Kenyan factory used is farmed in East Africa locally and i want to support that business. It would also be cheaper and better for my carbon footprint to not source cotton from the usa which originally came from china or somewhere and i want to be transparent in my whole supply chain.

Its my aim to support Africa through my business as much as possible so am building contacts as I go along.

Monday, 28 September 2009

New Era

I know i have been a little silent for awhile but i have been under it with some disappointments and some highs and some strange - things you never realise until you go through it - type situations. Disappointments being lovely Emily being so overpopular that she is inundated with work  and though she has completed first toiles cannot do any edits until 5th Oct w/c - shock horror. David business mentor says he is away on holiday so wont be available until end oct begin novwe can have our next catch up so i must must must hav my samples by then. I am getting all confused a littel with deadlines and what i need to do. My job is having a busy period and its kinda getting in the you ever feel that way. BUT i need to work as i need to pay my day to day bills and until i make that first 100k turnover and at least 40k in profit then I will still have to work. Highs being me starting my masters in ethical fashion and feeling extremely excited to be getting things going in my education again..though i do often forget that i will to actually do some work ... mmmhh that is easily overlooked no :). Just looking at other peoples thesis makes me cringe with the thought that one day very soon i will have to go through it right and okay to compare that to the idea of labour...mmmh welllll maybe not but I am sure it will be fine.. I do like to write so we will see.
And the other stuff - that would be import taxes.... i really need to get clued up on all this as it is rather confusing. The fabric i ordered from the usa for my sampling has arrived at the borders and i am being charged a small but annoying vat and clearance fee. I had been warned about that but am now living it.

very annoying but very adult business stuff that i better get more and more used to and it is stuff like this why the idea of buying fabric locally and making in the Uk would be fantastic yet due to my aims of business is not possible or feasible

the journey continues to the next junction...

Monday, 14 September 2009


Weekend gone was quite successful. I FINALLY ordered my fabrics for both businesses AND did line overviews for styles and fabrics to see how i could consolidate fabrics and alongside that I did an overview for factory allocation for styles and graphic overview so now I can visualise the range as a whole and broken down too.

One major factor now is budget is reducing extremely that I am unsure I will have enough to make them up and so may have to look at my overdraft for now.

Also to do now are to resketch all styles into illustrator (as easier to edit) and colour them up properly
OR once they are photographed I could colour them up then.

I also need a white parachute to make up some styles....

Still lots of little things to do including hangtags to purchase, labels in organic cotton to buy and even to look at who will do the embroidered logo to all styles...kenya has facilities so i could do those with them ro even send all out to them to do but i would rather keep the uk ones here and get a company to embroider them here if poss

This fashion game is definitely more than i originally envisioned....lessons of hindsight too ...mmmh.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Order Quantities

NOw this is the question that often throws me.  Factories want to know what your production quantity will be once you have finished sampling with them BUT my question is HOW do I know. Firstly I need orders but to get orders I have to have the samples complete. Maybe I have done this wrong...I should have gone to a sampling unit to get my styles sampled up after which I would go to stores to show and get an idea of orders and THEN contacted the factories to see if they can remake the sample ..mmmmhh actually that could work against me. I know i really need to seek funding as i want to have the money to actually produce to the quantities. I am saying 1-200 pieces each for now but not sure if that is enough or not....this fashion business game is not easy

Monday, 7 September 2009

teddy bear - your faithful childhood friend

I have now found me a teddy bear maker....they look so cute and would be perfect.

I actually have a few options but of course it all comes down to the price of the bears. One manufacturer/seller actually gets them produced in good ol' china....often an issue for me for obvious reasons and then there are others who make them by hand...but then they will probably be more costly....what to do what to do. Cheap and cheerful...but you dont know the conditions they are being made in OR locally made supporting talent in england BUT much more money..mmmh mmmh......i think this is a TBC  moment....

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

parachute 2 has arrived!

well my second parachute has arrived and though a bit dirty it looks cool
cant wait to get cutting!!

watch this space!
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Friday, 28 August 2009

busy weekend

Well its all go this weekend with getting stuff together. But i have decided to get parachute styles made up by a womens initiative workshop in London as the cost per hour is reasonable and I think I will have to work with them to cut the parachutes into parts - and it would be so expensive to ship this to Kenya and explain how to cut it when I am not there. Plus as well as wanting my label to be made in Africa I also want it to be about being a woman and to give back to women and to help women directed charity. So the rest of the range will be made in Kenya with any printed fabrics done in Ghana.

SO i feel better about that now.

Oh did i say i am reading E-myth by Michael Gerber...fantastic book...looks boring on the outside but i am thoroughly enjoying it...started it couple days ago but will probably complete it by middle of next week...that good!

Anyway bank holiday here i come!!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Now the push...

My meeting with David went well last night but we wont meet again until my final final final samples are made up otherwise it will be us 'meeting for meeting sake' as put by David...which makes sense.

SO now its down to me ordering the rest of my fabrics and getting my act together as I want this baby out by mid sept / end sept latest.

Also because Im due to start my Masters end of sept though it does mean REALLY tightening my belt as im taking a paycut to do i crazy...mmmmhhh....well i trust God to work it all out and will push with the bridal business too in order to bring in more revenue

This really is about pushing hard...the contractions have increased by the minute and the time for delivery has approached fast.

But im still excited and keeping motivated.

Im planning to go to a few free business events...Clinton Swaine, Great Expectations, T Harv Eker and I am finally reading 'E-myth' a well over due book i was told to read by a random entrepreneur business guy i met on the train...The book is very very good. I thin kthough i bought it before i never read it as the cover makes it look quite boring and intense business book but as i read i have found it quite personable so i reckon i will finish it quite quickly and hopefully it will keep me on the road to business success and positive rewards.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

samples back...but not all

Ok so this is the realism of fashion business and deadlines.
Poor Emily was overbooked and only managed to make up 6 of the 9 styles i gave her but they look alright..just need to be fitted now and so there are still 5 more to complete and fit and then finally i can get them made up in real fabric.

I now have to go over to David my mentor tonight and just take what i have

wish me luck!!

Monday, 24 August 2009

flying power!

My first parachute has arrived and i am sooooo excited!!!! i feel it is all coming together now. I need to order my organic cottons, soy, bamboo and hemp fabrics for the other styles

i will see Emily, patterncutter, tomorrow with the 9 styles i have given here and i have two more to add to her bulk work :)

aside from this i am contacting printers for the tees...apparently its 25quid per screen for the placement prints...and i also plan to do some in batik too so that is around £15/20 a yard...this is really amounting up and i understand truly why people give up because they run out of cash

so lots to do but looking forward to gettin g the toiles from Emily and sourcing a sampling house to make them up in London now that I know Kenya factory are capable of making them up I am nearly good to go!

Friday, 21 August 2009

overload overload

Okay well the seminar experience looking into Africa turned out to be a very interesting network and a great debate on Africa. But by the end of it with people coming up to my table to discuss the fashion show I am helping to put on, with promoting my bridal business and networking to aid this competition concept i am to put on as a project for my first year on my Masters...i am realising that i am very much overdoing it...

Last night i was 'gently' told by my boyfriend that he is not happy with me doing so much as i am not eating as i should be and not sleeping as i should be. I am putting my health at risk by stressing myself too much and he wants me to calm down, pray more and basically get myself together. So in a sentence to sum up my feeling on that...well i was well told!

I have overdone it and need to get back to my plan of action and not take on any small little sewing bridal jobs unless i really need to. My aim is to get product ready for a bridal show for end of september and in relation to Akabi my aim is to order fabrics and get them sampled up by end of September too. Problem is i still dont know who i will use to sample them up in real fabric. I have now bought 2 war era parachutes and will recycle them into my outerwear and poly based styles and have narrowed my fabric needs to organic cotton/soy/bamboo for tees and jersey dresses, organic denim/hemp for denim styles, fleece hemp/cotton/bamboo for sweat tops and recycled parachutes for nylon outerwear styles.

SO planning is this weekends to be in place too

until next posting

Monday, 17 August 2009

preparation is key some ways i wish i had all my stuff ready but in another way i am glad to move only when its right.

I am presenting the african fashion show i am helping out on, tomorrow at a seminar on africa and fashion and manufacturing there. I have been offered a table to promote the show and also to showcase my work. i am happy to have the table etc but i know i only have two samples made and even those two are not in the correct i have decided to put up promotional packs for the bridal wear business i have even though its not mentioned on the seminar notes.

So i firstly was beating myself up for not having stuff done in time but i believe if you wait until things are in place then that is better than rushing to get things done early. i want to launch with my and not half watch this space!

African fashion show

Okay so right now I am working full time, already have a small business making bridalwear and occasionwear - to which i am now adding homeware mind you, i have started Akabi - AND am helping to put on an African Fashion Show this October 2009. On top of this I am working to set up and organise a fashion competition with Africa...all to be revealed...hoping to get some big names, companies and organisations involved....BUT surely am i overdoing things...mmmmhh...i think i need to simplify my life..but its just too exciting right now!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009


Tonight i called a lady in Ghana to discuss her batik work I would like to use for a few of my styles. Things sound positive I just need to speak to my contact in Accra to meet with her to photograph examples of her work. Its so difficult when you are not there and makes me wish I was there for about 3 mnths a year to get things in place. But these days with todays technologies I am quite blessed to be doing business as things are more accessible and communication is easier.

So next week saturday I should have the photos and can get things moving on that side.

Right now pattern cutter Emily is working on 9 new styles for Akabi and we agree to complete those for end of the month. Then i have 3 more complicated styles for her to do then will send them all out to Kenya to test sample.

I am now to order my final sample fabrics as I must get these done by end Sept latest as there are a possible two African themed fashion show events that I would like to launch at - October and December and maybe one in Southe Africa next year 2010 in line with the SA World Cup.

Exciting times!

Online Webstore

Networking is the best thing ever...i have learnt since i started working firstly that talking to people is a fantastic way to increase knowledge and understanding. Now i am learning even more to utilise this 'networking' tool of mine to my business advantage.

On a recent one day course i did in internet marketing i spoke with a classmate who introduced me briefly to her webstore To be honest i made a note and could have bypassed it but because i enjoy networking and see it as imperative to business i emailed everyone i met on the course whose details i have collated and checked one of their websites. This was using the webstore she told me about. I looked up the webstore companies other customer sites and feel though i may not use it for Akabi I will definitely use it for the bridal and homeware business i have been running for awhile. It would be perfect!

So like BT tagline says 'its good to talk'!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Samples from Kenya!!

I am so happy this evening! My samples from Kenya turned up .... finally! They came via germany but it took nearly 3 weeks to arrive from Germany to the UK! How absurd is that but thank God they arrived and look fantastic. I know the factory found them complicating but they did a very good job..99.9 percent perfect (one slight very slight mistake but aside from that it looks great and highlighted to me that a similar style dress i had cadded up I may now scrap as it does the same job...and it will also save me 100quid so even better. But thank you Sabine in Kenya for the hard work from your factory workers....and they say Africans dont have skills as good as Asia...puhlease!
Africa, as I keep saying it...IS the future.

Designs in process

Okay so i have had to reduce my design styles from 25 down to 15 which is possibly best as it is already looking to be costing near to 1000pounds including fabrics, patterncutting, toiles and finally the ACTUAL samples! This is why this fashion business game puts alot of people is key and cash is king.

SO i have seen the lovely emily and she is starting on my patterns and toiles which once done i will send out to the workshop i have been introduced to in Ghana. My issue now is i need some batik work done but wont be back in Ghana until december so how to create batik without much batik experience just so my samples can be ready in time and not having to wait until december to do that...all these challenges and time lines are things not considered in the beginning and why planning also is KEY.

But I did attend an interesting business event and am speaking with the organiser Sam to act as a business manager who will have a slightly different outlook to my fashion mentor David. My mentorship with David ends next easter so I want to build new relationships to help take me through the 3 year period that 90% of businesses tend to fail by.

A great things said by Robert Kiyosaki on his CD set I have is that if 9/10 businesses fail than rather than back 10 businesses least 1/10 will succeed!

update to follow.....

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

fashion industry not playing fair

I saw this advert on the website and felt horrified. Yes I know I dont have all the details but it is true that alot of these things DO go on in the fashion industry and even more reason why I have made this decision to go down the ethical route with my clothing label.

Read on....

Gap & Levi's caught in pollution scandal

Sunday, 02 August 2009
A factory that makes jeans for Gap and Levi Strauss is illegally dumping chemical waste in a river and two unsecured tips where it poses a hazard to children.The scandal was uncovered by a Sunday Times investigation into pollution caused by a plant in Lesotho, southern Africa, which supplies denim to the two companies.

Dark blue effluent from the factory of Nien Hsing, a Taiwanese firm, was pouring into a river from which people draw water for cooking and bathing.The firm was also dumping needles, razors and harmful chemicals such as caustic soda at municipal dumps that have attracted child rag-pickers as young as five in search of cloth fragments to sell for fuel. Many of the children, who work for up to 10 hours a day, complain of breathing difficulties, weeping eyes and rashes.

taken from

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Designs done

Finally!!! I have confirmed my designs...well when i say confirmed i mean i have 25 styles that I am reducing to 15 maximum. I am so far happy with them but feel they need a little more work to get them completely right. SO i meet the lovely Emily my faithful patternmaker, next week and will hand her all styles to complete patterns and toiles within 3 weeks as I am due back to see my mentor David and he wants to see all toiles completed.

SO i have fabrics ready to be bought, and being researching for recycled hangtags company suppliers so things are moving but blooming heck it is getting expensive and my measly budget is dwindling i understand how starting a fashion company can be expensive and even more since I am also relaunching my bridal business (more to come on that closer to launch date!!)

NOw i just have a message that my lovely friend Sonya who has been helping with graphics is due to go back to her home country and wont be able to do any graphic work for me for a while...i must have heard me from where you are. Very happy for her and she has promised to work on stuff for me from her home but my days what a shock. Well at least I have yet another place to visit and go on holiday too... and thank God its somewhere sunny too cos Lord knows the hours i am putting in recently i will need a good, hot sunny place to visit just to chill out!

Back to school!

I have decided to undertake my masters in Ethical Fashion at the UCA University of Creative Arts at Epsom...funnily enough its where i did my Ba (Hons) degree. I was asked if i was always interested in Ethical Fashion and when I thought back I remembered doing a competition for Smirnoff International and I became runner up for my project which looked at man-made v natural - i looked at the ozone layer and the environment. Then my graduate collection used all natural fabrics...hemps - proper potato bag style, silk and cotton. Thought you would be interested in seeing where i came from - here is some of my graduate collection way back in 2001.


interesting news

The ethical fashion forum...EFF to those in the know .. dahling :)
have asked to have my profile on the site showcased in a presentation for their relaunch party this week!

here are his words

EFF Network Profile

For the upcoming launch party of the network we have been looking for
some members who’s profiles represent exactly what the network is
about! We at the EFF think your profile does exactly this; you connect
easily with people, contribute to discussions and really make the most
of being part of the ever-growing network!

At the party on Thursday we will be having a looped presentation that
will be running throughout the night consisting of various ethical
fashion images as well as examples of fantastic profiles on the
network. We would love to show your profile as part of this.

If you are not comfortable with us promoting your profile in this way,
please let me know.

Many thanks!


so of course i said yes!

means i am doing something right!

Friday, 10 July 2009

creating a website

Now i am experiencing a rather irritating thing trying to set up my website in order to register the name before its bought by someone else or a company etc.

Now on registering my business all was fine re the business name but going for the site now the domain is already taken by someone in the USA and if i want to buy it off them the minumum they would accept is 101dollars! Now even with the exchange rate it still equates to about at least i debated whether to add or or to the end of the name (im specifically leaving the name of my brand out until it it all up and running...i know the suspense is killing!). I ended up going with designs...but still a little has to grow on me i guess....

fantastic magazine to plug

Arise magazine is doing something positive and glamorous for Africa that I highly support. Check out the pics and buy now!

african sites to check out

Thursday, 9 July 2009

in memory of MJ - the best entertainer in world

God rest his soul


ethical brands i like

Two of my favourite brands in ethical fashion are both Kuyichi and Edun. Both use sustainable and/or ethical materials and Edun especially links to Africa - a personal love of mine

Kuyichi - being style conscious

Their concept of 'spare denim' basically a method of recycling and usage of waste materials, is a fantastic initiative

alongside this they use organic cottons, and more recently recycled polyester - i recently saw them at the recent bread and butter show in berlin (such a great city) and everything they are doing with their label i desire to do with more

check out soon their new store with all reclaimed materials - fantastic!


"We make t-shirts that support sustainable socioeconomic development. Put simply, that means that when you buy one of our shirts, you help us to employ people in Africa who might otherwise be unemployed. We work with disenfranchised African citizens, teaching them to grow cotton, sew, and participate in the textile business. Our shirts are made in Africa by Africans. We support communities, give jobs to the jobless, and teach skills to people who lack specialized training.

And, in addition to all that, it’s just a better t-shirt. "

quote from edun website and

they source cotton and manufacture quite a lot of styles and all their tees from Africa
I believe there is a lot of potential in Africa and its the nation the world will be forced to look at.

This leads me to introduce a cool brand....not an 'eco' label but still cool in its representation of Africa...welcome to

Sunday, 5 July 2009

the journey begins....

I have been meaning to start this blog for a while and to document the stages I go through in setting up this ethical clothing label. So here we go.

I officially started this label beginning of 2009 after I saw an ad in drapers record for a one year mentorship that David Jones (fashion guru!!) was offering to just 10 new designers to help them set up their fashion businesses. Now i had considered doing it for over 5 years but to be honest fear was the main factor in my delay. But I am so certain that this is what I studied fashion design for.

So my first decision was to make the brand ethical / fairtrade / responsible using organic / sustainable materials i.e organic cotton / bamboo / soy etc etc.

I have been inspired by brands/labels Katherine E Hamnett, Vivienne Westwood AR, Edun, Kuyichi to name a few. Initially I wanted to work on a womens sport and street label with an american feel to it but i decided that it shall be a womens streetwear label BUT it must be ethical AND it must be British with a london edge. We have great brands like Firetrap and All Saints (as well as VW) who do great work that is edgy, quirky with fantastic cut lines and I felt to give it an american esque feel i.e babyphat, apple bottoms etc would be wrong.

So after this my next decision was to work closely with Africa and to produce and manufacture the clothing within different African countries. My aim was to source my materials as much as possible within Africa too...this isnt proving as possible unless I am buying traditional African print fabrics (which will only be minimal in my label) but there are some available materials I can use.

Early in the year I visited Ghana where I met with a lady who has a fantastic jewel of a workshop in the back of her garden behind her house. She was very excited about the possibility of us workign together and the relationship was born. I have also networked with another factory in Kenya I am eager to work with who are responsible in their working conditions and with the staff, I am also in talks with a more newer initiative also in Kenya.

So far I have been sourcing organic cotton jersey, fleece - hemp and cotton mixes, bamboo and soy jerseys, recycled polyester etc etc these are relative to street and sports pieces. I have yet to complete designs but have already designed some styles that I have made toiles of in the UK and now am sending to Kenya to sample ready for production once orders come in.

It is early days and lots to do such as my logo is still an issue to be dealt with :) finalising all designs in preparation for my monthly meetings with David, completing my business plan, completing costings, doing more research for prices in store and online, websites...and the list goes on. Money and finance of course is an issue too. Its my aim to fund things with my own money through wages and if needed overdrafts but not yet to get a loan out. I am happy to go slow in order to have things done right and to not get into a pile of debt.

Overall it is my aim to spread the message of a positive modern Africa through the medium of fashion. I feel that thers is a vibe, an energy and a movement happening in Africa and I am very excited about it. Of course there is still poverty stricken areas and its all part of my brand to give back through earnings...this would be in a tithe payment to charities, through setting up charities, through mission work, through organising events to generate funding for initiatives and charities and most of all to set up a school and adjoined factory to teach sewing and education for life, including life skills. AKABI means love in greek a form of the word Agape - a measure of Godly love. The first range Love From Africa is all about giving something to Africa as Africa gives something to the rest of the world.

SO the vision is HUGE but like this brand