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