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 :)