Nallah B. Sangaré: Becoming a global makeup artist and beauty brand

Nallah B. Sangaré is a self-taught makeup artist and beauty expert who doesn’t shy away from any bold coloured or textured fabric, accessory or makeup look. Though born and raised in France, she is a deeply rooted Motherland Mogul with her father originally from Ivory Coast and her mother from Mali.

For six years, she was the International Trainer for MAC Cosmetics sub-Saharan Africa initially based in Lagos, Nigeria and then Nairobi, Kenya travelling across the region from Ghana, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa recruiting and training African makeup artists.

Nallah has also become a stylist, a creative director and has also evolved into an entrepreneur. She explores other industry segments including managing African models through her pan-African company Papillon.

What motivated you to join the beauty industry and how did you get started?

I have had an unusual journey. My background is in science and international business. After my bachelor’s in Business in the UK, I didn’t know what I wanted so I decided to shift to the business of Beauty and Luxury. My goal was to explore the beauty field in its entirety while maintaining my background.

I started in department stores for Givenchy so I could learn about skin fragrances and that experience revealed my makeup skills. Then I worked for several skincare brands, in wellness and trained in hairstyling. I learnt mostly on the job.

Afterwards, I was recruited by MAC cosmetics and went from a makeup artist at the counter to one of the very few black managers at their biggest store in the world on the Champs Elysées. When MAC launched in the African market, I applied to be the International Trainer for the sub-Saharan region.

I always had a love for beauty but never knew I could have a career in it as I wasn’t girly despite my sense of style.

The magical part is that with your hands and your kit this job has no boundaries – Nallah B. Sangare Click To Tweet

You started off as a makeup artist but have grown into a fully-fledged creative in the beauty industry. What motivated you to diversify and why would you say the growth was vital?

I wanted a full understanding of the field. I also realized that I wasn’t limited to one aspect and I could express my full vision in a project which has been important in bringing out exactly what I have in mind.

What is the highlight of your career so far?

As self-taught, it would be my role as International Trainer where I shared my knowledge and inspired African talents and worked on Mercedes Benz Fashion weeks. I also took part in projects to extend foundation and skincare lines for darker skin.

Look by Nallah B. Sangare. Source: Instagram


What has been your most challenging professional experience?

I would say working with Givenchy. I struggled with their idea of oppressing my sense of style and their idea of polishing me to their western standards of slick and straight hair & no accessories.

Do you have mentors in the industry?

Many people, cultures and landscapes inspire me. But if I have to pick one I would say makeup artist and beauty entrepreneur Danessa Myricks.

You can be a makeup artist at the counter of a department store or like I have been, an artist at a photoshoot in the middle of the Serengeti- Nallah B. Sangare Click To Tweet


Tell us about the available work opportunities for makeup artists.

From cinema to entertainment, they are so vast. You can be a makeup artist at the counter of a department store or like I have been, an artist at a photoshoot in the middle of the Serengeti with a Kenyan Victoria’s Secret model or designing the look for a Kenyan musical play that played on Broadway.

The magical part is that with your hands and your kit this job has no boundaries.

Do you have a signature look?

Yes, because I’ve gathered knowledge on skin and styling, I can say my craft has a 360-degree vision. I love beautiful glowy skin with freckles which brings out more realness. I also have a special love for colour and boldness.

Look by Nallah B. Sengare. Source: Instagram

Working on the African continent, I have developed the use of Afropointilism and Afrobohemian concepts. Afropointilism points to the use of tribal makeup from sub-Saharan tribes. The name is coined from pointillism, due to its similarity with the painting technique using dots discovered through Vincent Van Gogh. It is a great mark of our heritage in different African cultures.

In Afrobohemian, I fuse different traditional beauty ornaments from scarifications to body painting to show the paradox of similarity while expressing singularity. I also paint the African map on the eye to express my vision of the Motherland.

As a Beauty Educator, what influence does your work have on today’s African woman?

The makeup classes I give include knowledge about skin, hair and styling that enable professional makeup-artists and women to work on their image individually or in a group.

I incorporate self-love and self-confidence coaching as well as modules for African women to understand the history of our beauty and the specifics of our cultures.

What are your top 3 tips for young African women aspiring to be makeup artists?

  1. Be passionate and dedicated to your craft by practising. Maximise the opportunity to learn from mentors.
  2. Be patient when it comes to developing your personal artistic style.
  3. Love what you do.

What it takes to run a bridal wear brand – Ogake Mosomi

Ogake Mosomi is a bridal and accessories designer extraordinaire. With the Ogake Mosomi brand, she ensures the African bride is classy, distinct and authentic to herself.  She lectures at the University of Nairobi guaranteeing the future generation of designers doesn’t get left behind.

Was fashion always the plan?


I remember I wanted to join the police force! I also thought I’d be a lawyer. When the time came I was torn between law and fashion. A desire to be ‘different’ by choosing something a bit unexpected prevailed and I ended up studying fashion.

Growing up as a Kenyan child, what was your perception of ‘local’ luxury brands and now finding yourself running one, how do you feel Kenyans are embracing the Ogake Mosomi brand?

Elsa Klensch coloured my entire perception of luxury fashion. The only local designers I really knew about were Ann McCreath, Rialto, Carol Kinoti and later Patricia Mbela. I thought their work was inspirational but under-appreciated.

Now, I think the number of local luxury designers has really grown. Our individual interpretations of Kenyan luxury fashion are wildly different and I think that is a sign of progress. For Ogake Mosomi, we started out trying to convince people that they can get a high quality locally made gown and I am so grateful that the Kenyan bride has embraced us.

You studied in England, which is a fashion epicentre in its own right. Why did you feel like moving back home was the best plan and what specific things did you do to ensure a successful transition?

To be honest, it wasn’t entirely my decision. Work visas had become really difficult to get, I also felt that I could make more impact at home as our industry was still growing. Fortunately, I already had two job offers in fashion, I took that as a sign!

Right before I returned, I went back to a master tailor in London with whom I had interned while at university. I explained I needed to learn how to make made-to-measure clothes. The standard patterns which we learned in school were not going to be very useful because our bodies were very different. I will forever be grateful to Antonia Pugh-Thomas!

Next, I came back to Kenya for about three weeks just to reacquaint myself with home. I travelled around the country with my friend, and on that trip I saw Kenya in a different light, and I wasn’t scared anymore.

Lastly, my wonderful parents had given me a loan, and together with some money I had saved up from working odd jobs, I had managed to buy all the basic equipment I needed to set up shop in Nairobi.

What advice would you give to a new fashion business owner about investment particularly concerning who to approach and who to turn down?

Firstly, ensure that your investor has similar values to your own. Besides investing money, your investor will be involved to a fair extent, in your business so it’s important that you are aligned.  Choose wisely, and don’t be in a rush.

The more favourable the terms of the investment are for you, the better. Weigh options carefully- whether you want to get debt or equity financing and how it affects your business in those early stages. It’s different for every business though.

How do you go about learning new skills?

Learning never ends. I recently went back to school to learn how to balance being an owner/manager and that has been a breath of fresh air for me. My background is in design, and the other functions that go with running a business are not as straightforward. It has really enriched my process.

On the design side, we also try to do a lot of research, to learn new design processes that can make us more efficient and help us differentiate our brand. It’s an every day, ongoing process for the entire team. We also put a lot of emphasis on teamwork, so that we are all learning from each other.

What is the hardest thing about being your own boss that isn’t obvious?

You never ever switch off. Even when you’re not at work, or on holiday; it can be exhausting. Also making big decisions on your own can be very scary- if they go south, you’re more or less on your own. And many times, there’s no one to give you answers!

What is the most rewarding part of being a wedding dress designer at Ogake Mosomi?

The finished gown, the happy bride, being part of her journey and helping her bring her dream to life!

Name a woman past or present that you look up to.

My mother and her unwavering faith.

What is your no-fail inspiration or creative rut hack?

I am yet to find a sure-fire one! But traveling helps….. Seeing different places, ideas, and cultures is always inspiring, calming, rejuvenating.

The Ogake Mosomi brand also produces accessories, you also have dresses with intricate designs that involve materials like beads and feathers. How difficult is it to source these materials?

When it comes to the more unusual materials, we import what we need from different suppliers mainly in Europe and Asia. Every time I travel, I’m on the lookout for interesting materials. Sometimes they’re expensive so we just get small quantities for sampling and keep contact with the suppliers in case a client is interested, then we can order specifically for them.

Locally the suppliers are becoming more creative, and stocking a wider range of materials too. It costs significantly more to buy in Kenya, but it really helps when we do not have the luxury of travelling to the source. The disadvantage with uncommon materials is that they mainly stock one-offs so it’s not easy to get the same product twice. But thank God for globalisation and technology! Europe and Asia feel like they’re just around the corner now.

What does success look like at the end of everything? How would you know you have achieved your dreams?

The day when the business gets to the point where it can run profitably without me being actively involved in the day to day running, when I know it can outlive me but still maintain integrity and authenticity, I will know I have made it!


For more articles to help you get ahead in your personal life, business and career, visit SheLeadsAfrica.org

SHEAMOISTURE SPOTLIGHT ON THE FASHIONPRENEUR: SEKINAT AMOO – CEO OMBRE WOMAN

SheaMoisture is the enduring and beautiful legacy of Sofi Tucker. Widowed with five children at 19, Grandma Sofi supported her family by selling handcrafted shea butter soaps and other creations in the village market in Sierra Leone.

Sofi became known as a healer who shared the power of shea and African black soap with families throughout the countryside.

She handed down her recipes to grandson Richelieu Dennis, who founded SheaMoisture and incorporated her wisdom into the brand’s hair and skin care innovations.

SheaMoisture products and collections are formulated with natural, certified organic and fair trade ingredients, with the shea butter ethically-sourced from 15 co-ops in Northern Ghana as part of the company’s purpose-driven Community Commerce business model

SheaMoisture has partnered with She Leads Africa to support and showcase Nigerian women who support their communities.

About Sekinat Amoo

Sekinat Amoo is the CEO and founder of Ombré Woman.

Despite having an academic background in science and research, Sekinat made a switch and started Ombré Woman to provide classy ready-to-wear pieces for women.

Ombré Woman is a female-led and for women fashion brand that empowers women by helping them look and feel their best without compromising on style and comfort.

After spotting a gap in the fashion industry for ready-to-wear pieces, Sekinat decided to start Ombré Woman to provide stylish and comfortable ready to wear clothes infused with African prints.

Her goal is to make very fashionable pieces to help women become more confident and look their best, without losing their comfort.

You can connect with Sekinat and her business on Instagram


What motivated you to start Ombré Woman?

I started my brand because I had a passion to empower and build confidence in women through their everyday looks.

I also spotted a gap in the fashion market for work and casual wear infused subtly with rich African prints, which really inspired my fashion journey.

My desire to help women look and feel their best also led me to add an extra touch to the clothes I make. I made a decision to infuse the fabrics with rich African prints in order to create unique, trendy pieces that can be worn over and over again.

The clothes are specifically made to flatter the feminine silhouette and be multifunctional so that they can be worn in the workplace or elsewhere.

SheaMoisture

What makes your brand stand out?

There are quite a few things that have helped Ombré Woman stand out, from our unique business type to how easy and accessible we’ve made our clothes for our clients. We are also very committed to giving back to the community and helping other women with our business.

Some of the ways we’ve ensured our brand stands out in the saturated fashion industry are:

  • My brand is built as a “for women and run by women only” business.
  • Our business has a prime, central and accessible location for our clients.
  • We offer customization services for our Ready-To-Wear (RTW) items, which gives our clients control over how they look and feel in our pieces.
  • Also, we ensure that our clients receive their clothes when and how it was promised. Absolutely no disappointments!
  • We empower other women through direct employment and artisans by giving them scrap materials to make their designs with.

What are three things you struggled with when your business kicked off and how did you overcome them?

One major issue we had was getting the right people to build the business. After a few fails, we took a step back and started to recruit our staff through trusted government agencies. On our own part, we provide them with incentives that add value to their lives.

Another thing was getting high-quality materials for making clothes. This was a big issue because not having the materials we needed meant that the clothes won’t get made. So what we do now is use a few local vendors whom we found. We also supplement with international alternatives when we can’t find what we need locally.

When it came to business finance as well, I wasn’t the most knowledgeable person and I didn’t want my business to suffer. To combat this, I did a lot of reading, took courses and sought external input as well where necessary.

SheaMoisture

How have you been able to stay or rise above the noise in this industry?

For me, I have remained very focused on our “why,” which is to ensure that we are helping our clients look and feel beautiful every day.

We also ensure that we are delivering the best quality they can have at an affordable price. Lastly, we are constantly evaluating our business processes and training our staff to ensure that our service is top-notch.

Did you have any personal experience that taught you a business lesson?

When I just began my business, I had a big issue with budgeting and it almost affected my cashflow.

Since I all of a sudden experienced a rise in my personal expenses, it was a bit too much to handle at first and almost became an issue. When I got the situation under control, it taught me how to plan better. I now plan my yearly budgets and funds allocation for the business ahead so that there are no surprises.

SheaMoisture

How have you impacted your community since starting this business?

As I mentioned earlier, my brand is very invested in giving back to the community in general and women in particular.

Some of the ways we have done this is through providing employment via direct and indirect forms of labour. We also offer paid internships for our newly trained staff.

To reduce any form of waste and help with sustainable recycling, we also send our scrap pieces back to local artisans. The artisans are able to use them to make a living by making items like pillows, rugs and carpets.

What is your goal for 2019? And what have you done so far to achieve it?

I had two major goals for 2019 and they were to first launch and promote a ready to wear line and the second is to launch a school uniform line.

For the first goal, we currently have an ongoing campaign to promote our debut collection. For the second goal, we are currently visiting schools with samples for uniform production.

Can you share 3 interesting facts about yourself?

Well to start with, I have a purely science and research background (from secondary school to my Masters Degree). Another is that I love to cook and organize spaces.

Lastly, I love to travel and try new types of food (I’m quite adventurous with food).

SheaMoisture

What’s your favorite skin, hair or self-care routine?

I’m a low maintenance kind of lady, so anything that gets me out the door quickly is my favorite routine.

How do you feel about this opportunity to promote your brand on SLA, sponsored by SheaMoisture?

Ecstatic! It’s a great opportunity to showcase our brand to so many Motherland Moguls and we are very grateful to SLA and SheaMoisture.

Mention one word that should come to people’s minds when they think about your product/service

Classy

You can find SheaMoisture products at Youtopia Beauty stores nationwide and on Jumia.


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How to rock these 5 Corporate Styles effortlessly

At the concluded MET Gala, head swooped and ears buzzed, we saw fashion statement from the future, from Queen mother Serena Williams’ magnificent dress, to Tracy Ellis Ross’ – Mirror in the wall black emblem.

We are trying to not mention Cardi’s overflowing regalia and Lupita Nyong’o statement headgear. Nonetheless, Zendaya was the star of the ball or MET rather.

She came dressed in an outfit that lit up from a wave of a magic wand. With her very own fairy Godmother or father.

Wouldn’t it be great if we all had fairy godmothers that would wave a wand at our swarthy wardrobes and Gbam, we are all glammed up.

While we are still waiting for a fairy godmother/Wakanda father, we put together a number of ideas and ways you can switch up.

Let’s take a more practical approach to our wardrobe.  These makeover and outfit ideas are for that goal-getter who knows she can slay and deliver at the same time and is doing just that, while she might be able to stretch her budget.

This boss lady wants to be in the know of fashion trend, she wants to be creative and classic, turning both eyes and heads at the meeting, for her we’ve set up an array of methods to switch that glam up

We don’t leave the entrepreneur out, she’s making boss moves, she’s running from an event venue to meeting with her clients.

She wants to make sure everything works well for her small business, and she wants to look like she means business to clients. She can’t bust a thousand box on clothes.

What ways can she creatively switch up the narrative off her wardrobe from “please-help-this-newbie-entrepreneur” to “here’s -why-you-should-invest-in-my-business entrepreneur”.

The Statement Stiletto

A stiletto can transform your look from plain to classic. First, it elevates your status, gives you more moral to look people in the eye, and a statement stiletto draws eyes from your heels all the way up to your face.

A statement stiletto can be stylish while remaining formal. They usually stand out in just one color. A bright red is an all-time favorite, a neon green will go too.

Whatever you choose, make sure to pair them off with soft brown colors and power glasses. Make a statement without saying a word

The Formal Ankara

What better way to stand out than in an all in one Ankara print pants or skirts. While you rep the Wakanda nation. you bring with you that extra sauce and excitement that is otherwise drab in a suit and tie setting.

Note: Ankara prints can get busy so it’s best to pair them off with single color, mainly white or black and minimal accessories.

The Stylish Joggers

Whoever told you pants can’t be stylish lied to you. There are days when a Motherland Mogul has to be on her feet, moving around to keep things in check, trying to meet up and staying all late to make orders move in the next morning.

This is certainly no time to do a catwalk.  When you really need that flexibility jump in from one car to another, a jogger’s gat you baby girl.

It’s light, free and flexible, allowing you to be comfortable all day long. Paired with a jacket you can quickly make the switch from entrepreneur to the boss lady

The Classic Pants

Pastel pants come in all shapes and colors. Single-colored pastel pants bearing softer shades like woody brown or pastel pink are great together.

Layering a turtle neck tee shirt or a tank top underneath the statement jackets makes your outfit pop.

It’s easy, soft and comfortable and you can always switch from feeling classic in a jacket to party style in a tee-shirt styled into a crop top to fit at a party.

However you choose to wear it, this outfit works for different occasions.

The Multipurpose Jacket

A bright colored jacket Is a must for any wardrobe. There’s barely anything you can’t rock with it. A bright colored jacket can be worn on a little black dress, a dinner gown, or even with a corporate dress.

You can pair it up with a tee-shirt and you make a unique fashion statement. And if you dare, mix it up with sneakers or all stars.

Now you have it, survey your wardrobe to find combinations that work.

Here are 3 tips to help you recreate a new wardrobe in a week.

  • Ransack your wardrobe, you would probably find a statement piece you didn’t know what to do with or a jacket you forgot from a long time ago, now is the time to bring out the slayer in you.
  • Pair each outfit by color and accessories them.
  • Next, you’d want to take photos of each outfit you think cuts the mark, scan through your Mirror, Mirror on the wall, and select the dopest of them all.

Here are a few online thrift stores you can get clothing from, all of which can be found in Mall of Africa.

  • Zara
  • Boho
  • Pretty Little things
  • Budget shopping Fashionaova

All outfits and dresses in this article can be found at StyleAmira’s fashion and lifestyle page. You can also find them on the gram.

Till next time, let us slay together.

10 MUST HAVE ITEMS FOR A YOUNG PROFESSIONAL’S CLOSET


In 2016 I moved back to my home country, Sierra Leone. Yes, sis— that tiny country on the coast of West Africa, no one knows much about.

Sierra Leone has a population of approximately 7 million people, we have government institutions, a growing and healthy private sector dominated by the mining, agriculture, hospitality, and the FMCG industry— as well as a large NGO presence.

With a range of middle-management and administrative job options so close, yet so far out of the reach of Sierra Leoneans.

None-the-less I was determined to learn the political, economic and social landscape of the country, work for NGO’s whose mission statements I believe in, and start my own business!

The only problem was that, at my big age of 24, I had no young professional wear!

I was coming out of a two-year job in a tech start-up where we wore jeans to work every day.

I quickly learned that to go on job interviews, or meetings with potential investors and clients for my own start-up, I needed affordable yet good quality business casual items in my closet.

Below I will share with you my the top 10 items that saved my interview and client meetings game for two years of freelance consulting and building a start-up.

Illustrating each item is the fabulous and unparalleled stylings by Fatouma Haidara, also known on the gram as @the_fashionartist_.

1. The high-waisted paper bag trouser

A good quality high-wasted trouser in black or dark/navy blue goes with almost every professional shirt and even casual shirts.

This piece changes any outfit from the casual to – “I’m fresh out of an important meeting” look.

The tip here is that it cannot be a tight fit or fitted trouser. The slightly loose wear allows you to run around flexible all day from meeting to meeting as most bosses do.

2.  The cotton poplin shirt

Every woman needs this in every color! Start with the basic office blue and work your way from grey to every color under the sun!

Even a basic office blue with different patterns like stripes and polka dots works. You can collect these over time. But if you find a store where they’re on sale, stock up!

3. The flounced/satin/silk blouse

There are a million and one materials, cuts, colors, and designs to buy this in.

Essentially, what’s great here is that its a stylish yet comfortable shirt that can be worn with many different kinds of bottoms while maintaining a professional/work-based air about your outfit.

4. The black ballet shoe

Practical, comfortable and transferable! This is best for work when fully covered (no peep toes— most offices and interview spaces have either a written or non-explicit policy against this anyway).

It is best to get this shoe in good quality leather (or good enough quality) so that it lasts long.

I had an all-black one from Aldo with an alligator texture and a small gold zipper in the back, and it lasted me 3 years of daily wear!

5. Closed-toe low-heeled pumps

Neutral colors like black, beige and nude are a good place to start. This has the same appeal as the black ballet shoe, however, I recommend having at least one or two of these because some offices require them for meetings.

I find pumps most essential for networking events and conferences, they add an extra layer to my self-esteem for some reason.

6. The non-fitted high-waisted knee-length (or below) pencil skirt

Yes oh, this one is mad specific because I find that if just one part of it is off, it doesn’t hold the professional gaze that I’m going for.

Pairing this with any kind of top or a classic round neck jewelry piece is a quick and easy young professional look for your more relaxed days.

7. The blazer

You may not work at a bank or in a law firm— but trust me, a blazer always comes in handy one day or another!

8. The Longchamps Pliage

This one is a bit of a splurge and a luxury I know! But if you have something similar then go for it!

What you truly need here is a black medium to a large sized handbag that is light even before you fill it with your planner, your lunch and your laptop!

Carrying bags all day can be heavy, you want something easy on the shoulders. The pliage is also waterproof for those Harmattan/rainy season days.

But if you don’t have access to one, then any good leather bag should do. Black is a practical color because it goes with every outfit.

9. The Pleated Skirt

I could go on and on, but the skirt speaks for itself. This is my favorite piece for a work presentation, networking events and lazy days when I don’t want to be confined by more fitted clothing.

It’s such an elegant piece, without even trying.

10. Your business card

You know how they say “you’re never fully dressed without a smile”? Well for a young professional— you’re never fully dressed without your card!

Not only does it allow potential employers to easily contact you but it’s a great avenue to use to ask people for their own business card in exchange for yours— so that you can send that follow up email and call later!

Haidara is the Malian founder and CEO of the interior design firm Haii Designs and her work can be found on Instagram at – @haiidesigns_interior.

In all aspects, Haii Designs, blends the traditional and modern birthing innovative and “never seen before” designs. Along with her clean, modern, and lively spatial designs, I have long been drawn to Haidara’s grown and #BossLady fashions! If you’re looking to purchase your next office ruling inspiration piece and jewellery after this article, explore tribia-by-hd.afrikea.com or @tribia.by.hd on Instagram.

5 fashion tricks to boost your attraction level

It is no longer news that some people are usually attracted to others based on how well they appeal to their minds.

The attraction can be physical, emotional, sapiosexual or sexual in nature.

But I will like to talk to you about how well you can kit up physically and still attract the right partner.

First, let me start by saying that there is no perfect person out there for you. But there are people who fit your ideal description of what you want in a man.

MR Right is simply a high-value man who knows what he wants, takes responsibility for his life and is on a journey to building great relationships too.

A lot of ladies are attracted to well-fitted men, with broad shoulders, and great fashion sense. If you want this type of man, it is not a bad idea, but you should understand that such men would want a classy attractive woman too.

That means you should look as classy as he would look too. If you are not conscious about how you look, you may miss out on important opportunities in other areas of your life.

Trust me, some people do not have the patience to know your content, they are merely moved by sight except they have an opportunity of being around you to see what else you can offer. So packaging matters a lot.

First impression is good, but it doesn’t have to be the final say but what about making sure your first impression is likable?

Let me share with you 5 areas to pay attention to look more attractive and classy to Mr. Right.

1. KNOW YOUR BODY TYPE

Should I confess to you? I just found out about my body type last year in 2018.

While growing up, someone once told me that I had a male figure and I felt bad about it. And then later, I began to compare my body with others. I wondered why I had broad shoulders and a small waist.

Don't wear a dress because it fits another person, you should be more concerned about how well it'll fit you too – @NikeFolagbade Click To Tweet

Most jackets and tops I wanted never fit me and I wasn’t conscious of the style I could blend so I simply copied the trend and close friend’s style.

I found out about body types in a learning class and I was like wow! I didn’t know that I had been buying the wrong dresses.

That could be you too. You should not wear a dress because it fits another person, you should be more concerned about how well it will fit you too.

Learn about your body type and wear what fits you.

Other types of body types are the apple, pear, inverted triangle body types, and so much more. Now that I know, I buy my dresses strategically.

So appreciate your body type, wear what fits you and flaunt well with a great style.

2. DO SKIN CARE ROUTINE

Gone are the days where skincare used to be expensive. You can actually do some organic regimen by watching them on YOUTUBE.

Not all skin care routine can fit your skin type so you may need to talk to a skin expert to know which suit your skin.

A clear and bright skin adds more to your beauty plus eating good food, fruits, and plenty of water makes perfect sense to look good.

3. YOUR SMILE AND BODY POSTURE

What is the point of having beautiful skin and body if you cannot smile and develop a good posture?

A lot of times, men are attracted to your smile and that can be the signal they need to know you are approachable.

If you are always keeping a straight face, you may have fewer people socializing with you. So put on some smile and carry yourself well.

4. ACCESSORIES

Do you know there is power in using a touch of accessories?

It can range from neck pieces, wristwatches, bangles, sunglasses, hats, scarf, statement bag, etc. it is all about adding a touch to your style and making a statement with it.

How well do you invest in accessories?

5. MAKE UP

There is something about adding a touch to your face. It makes you look more natural.

It doesn’t mean you cannot be a team natural but lighten up your face and that may be the difference you need.

When you start paying attention to how you look, you will be surprised at the kinds of attention you will get.

I know work schedule can be tight and you have no time, but you can use your mobile phone to do the necessary research and update yourself.


What will you start doing differently?

The Importance of a ‘Capsule Wardrobe’ and Tips on How to Build One

Do you always find yourself shopping for clothes and shoes that you never wear? Or you have clothes in your wardrobe that you have not worn in over a year?

It may be time to declutter your wardrobe.

One of the benefits of the minimalistic trend has been the adoption of a capsule wardrobe.

The term “Capsule Wardrobe” was coined by a London Boutique owner, Susie Fox, who owned a boutique called “Wardrobe” in the seventies.

If you are wondering if a capsule wardrobe is a right decision for you, here are a few reasons to consider:

You are looking to revamp your style

Your style changes with the different seasons in your life such as school, work, college parties vs. the networking cocktail events and you may, therefore, find that your current outfits do not fit your current season in life.

It is important to always evaluate your fashion needs with your current situation for example when it is time to get the classic LBD/LWD in exchange for the shorts that were your party outfits in your college days.

As you are maneuvering this new season, keep your purchases to a minimum in order for you to identify which style works for you best.

You want to save money you spend on shopping

If you are an impulsive shopper and you always find yourself shopping outfits that never seem to fit into your current wardrobe – It may be time to consider scaling down on your wardrobe and your shopping.

The best part about scaling down on your wardrobe as an impulsive shopper is that you will control your spending habits and that will help you save on that extra coin.

The beauty of a capsule wardrobe is that you will get a clear picture of what your style is and it is, therefore, easier to shop with your style in mind.

You want to reduce on the amount of time you spend picking out an outfit

Whether you are dressing for work, a date, a cocktail party or any other event, you want to minimize the amount of time that you take to dress.

The lesser the pieces in your wardrobe, the lesser the time that you will spend choosing an outfit.  

The essence of a capsule wardrobe is in adopting the pieces in your current wardrobe that you love to wear and that you feel great in.

These pieces are your staples for what would ideally be considered a season (3 months) after which you switch them up as the season changes.

If you come from a tropical area, then your wardrobe will change depending on whether the season is rainy or sunny.

Tips to building on your wardrobe for each season:

Go through your closet and pick the pieces that you frequently wear

There are the basic pieces in your wardrobe that you love wearing and feel great in which are the pieces that will be your first choices.

These will include; outerwear which will depend on the season, bottoms such as jeans, skirts and shorts, tops and shoes.  

Create a base for your wardrobe and build on your pieces

This will be in the form of the classic white and grey tees, button-down shirts, dark colored pants, classic pencil skirts.

The base that you choose mainly depends on your lifestyle and your day-to-day activities.

The pieces that you pick to build on your wardrobe will be determined by the base that you choose for your base.

Clothes, Design, Fashion, Fabric

When shopping, consider purchasing statement pieces that transcend “fashion” and can be incorporated into many outfits

A capsule wardrobe is one that is meant to minimize your clothes into a small collection therefore when shopping ensure that you get classic pieces that transcend style seasons.

Your best bet is to switch up on your outerwear and shoes while maintaining the basic pieces.

Chioma Ogbudimkpa: On creating Redbutton and using Green Fashion to meet the SDGs goals

Chioma Ogbudimkpa is a certified project management professional who has served in different capacities and projects across 5 countries and different industries.

She has put in over 9 service years in FMCG, Consulting and Real Estate.

Chioma is also a sustainability advocate and a Green Champion. She has been actively involved in the ‘Going Green’ Initiative from the YALI Network since 2015.

She started her entrepreneurship journey with the launch of her women’s wear label, Redbutton in 2017 to explore her creative side.

Following this, Chioma has received a seat at the table of various local and international platforms; she is a ‘She Leads Africa’ (SLA) Accelerator beneficiary of 2017, a 2018 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur and the winner, Creative Business Cup Nigeria 2019.

She will be representing Nigeria at the Global Creative Business Cup in Denmark this July. She’s also an alumnus and beneficiary of the Nigeria Creative Enterprise (NICE) program 2019 powered by the British Council.

She has a Bachelors in Project Management Technology and a PGD in Strategic Management & Leadership. Chioma loves to cycle and play scrabble at her leisure time.


There are several ways to stand out. Look around you, look inside of you, talk to people that have the capacity to help you discover new territories – @chiomaredbutton Click To Tweet

What led you to fashion at the beginning and what led to the switch to sustainable fashion

My mum owned a fashion house back in the 90s, that’s where and when I started to sew, sketch and play with fabrics.

I found that I was always stitching something (till date..lol), my mum’s tailors were tired of me because nothing they make for me stays the same. I loved to experiment and add my own touch here and there.

It was fun and engaging so I continued on this path up until I started working in the corporate space. I made my work clothes and sometimes, people wanted me to make clothes for them when they realized I made the dresses myself.

It was extracurricular until 2016 when I decided to start the business properly. I enrolled in Martwayne fashion school while I was still working, just to get a professional grasp of fashion designing and the business of fashion. Following that, I launched Redbutton in 2017.

Because I am a Green Champion, it was only natural for me to incorporate sustainability into my fashion brand. I started to research ways I can be green, while still maintaining fundamental design principles.

There are several ways I have built in ethical fashion principles in my processes, including using recyclable paper packaging, ensuring minimal waste, ethical production processes and fusing sustainable materials.

What are the possible career options here?

It’s quite evident that the Africa fashion space is experiencing the highest rave she has ever had, and doesn’t seem like it will decline anytime soon.

The demand and interest in the over $50bn industry have been incredibly progressive which also implies that there are tons of career opportunities, even in a sustainable fashion.

Some common ones are textile producers (in knitting, weaving, dyeing, etc). Even here in Nigeria, we are yet to scratch the surface in exploring our indigenous woven fabrics from different tribes.

We also have fashion designers, illustrators, machinists, thought leaders in ethical fashion (not very popular in Africa but there are) who are consultants, show curators, editors, etc.

Where do you see this line of business taking you?

Building a strong ethical fashion brand that promotes African craftsmanship and design innovation, and of course, a profitable fashion business that will birth several other ethical fashion advocates and workers is my overarching goal.

Our zest for color, patterns and the intricacy in our embroideries are phenomenal and it appears we are not exploring what we have enough.

This is what I want to project to Africa and the world by exploring eco-friendly materials and African art.

What are the challenges in the fashion business, and how do you manage them?

Production is slow and expensive. But I have realized through this journey that the process and result are far more important than the speed.

It’s also more expensive to run, because eco-friendly materials are not exactly cheap (more expensive than regular fabrics), meaning that your pieces will not be cheap.

But once you can properly project your value and find your target market, you will be just fine

You use water hyacinths for some of your products, why water hyacinths? What was the reception like at the UN?

It was just an experiment, to be honest, I didn’t expect that it will be this serious o..lol!

I was researching on sustainable fabrics, something different from our woven fabrics, I bumped into this social innovation enterprise who also up-cycles waste for furniture and home decor pieces.

I found that water hyacinths can be dried and woven into panels like our Aso-oke.

I said, ‘I never saw anyone try this out in fashion, is it even possible?”

The fact that it wasn’t popular in Africa drew me further into the research. I tested it and realized it could work but the dress will be dry clean only, no machine wash.

We are constantly exploring more eco-friendly materials we can fuse into our designs to create statement pieces.

Some of the water hyacinth pieces we fused with Adire were showcased at the 4th UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi and received resounding acclaim from assembly members and delegates.

We were published in the Kenyan dailies and featured on the UN Environment news updates. Between April and today, we have shipped over 50 pieces to the US and UK, following the contacts made from the UN event.

This is a testament to the fact that, even though our designs have the African aesthetic, they are also globally appealing.

Got any advice for younger fashion entrepreneurs?

Some say the industry is saturated, well maybe in some context. But also remember it is growing incredibly and the demand is looming.

There are several ways to stand out. Look around you, look inside of you, talk to people that have the capacity to help you discover new territories.

You can tweak your strategy, innovate, and position your brand for opportunities that are strategic to helping you grow. Not just for fashion entrepreneurs, the journey is HARD, trust yourself and trust the process.

Look for strategic collaborations, that’s one of the easiest ways to gain traction. – @chiomaredbutton Click To Tweet

I still have feelings of self-doubt, but I constantly remind myself how far I have come and how possible my dreams are.

Where can we see, follow and support your work?

You can follow our updates and see our pieces on our website, and our Instagram handle is @redbuttonng.

To follow my not-so-fun and unstructured personal stories, my Instagram handle is @chiomaredbutton.


Its time to Invest in the African Fashion Industry

“Africans need to put on the clothes made by their fellow citizens as a showcase of support and home pride”.

Africa has become a hub for designers unafraid to create fashion statements embellished in colors as bold as the continent’s sunsets and in prints as culturally rich as its people.

Their designs are cat-walking across runways both at home and around the world from New York to London to Tokyo.

Despite its budding international fame, the African fashion industry has long ways to walk before “made in Lagos” rings the same as “made in Paris.” For the meantime, the paucity of internal and external investment is a barrier frustrating attempts to move forward.

In recent times, African fashion has not just dipped its toes but fully plunged into the world’s fashion scene. Anisa Mpungew, a Tanzanian designer and creator of Loin Cloth & Ashes, says “Africa is not afraid of patterns and colors, that’s the one thing we do in our sleep, so we use it to be louder amongst our foreign friends.”

Indeed, African designers are making bold fashion statements through the complex patterns and colors they dare to work with.

African fashion tells a story — patches of identity are interwoven into the fabrics used and the designs created.

According to Bethlehem Alemu, owner of an Ethiopian shoe company soleRebels, “The global consumer today is hyper-aware. They want authentic and innovative ideas delivered from the authors of those ideas.”

These consumers want the designs to be creations of the African mind and hands and not replicas produced by Western clothing chains.

The fashion industry has the potential to create secured jobs for the African youths of today and tomorrow.

High profiled brands in the likes of J. Crew, Burberry, and Michael Kors oftentimes look to Africa for inspiration and ideas. Nevertheless, the masks, zebra stripes and leopard spots feed into Western stereotypes of Africa, not Africa’s authentic story.

With designers and clothes in high demand, the African fashion industry is ripe to reach its full potential. However, a lack of internal patronage stands in the way. Lexy Moyo-Eyes, the founder of Nigerian Fashion Week, acknowledges that “the fashion industry can become a big business in Africa … even more with government support.

For example, according to the African Development Bank, the Rwandan government established a “foundation to establish garment factories and boost the textile and fashion industries.”

As governments across the continent follow Rwanda’s steps and begin to esteem the fashion industry, they need to invest in the skills and qualifications of their people.

Fashion programs such as LISOF School of Fashion in South Africa and Vogue Style School of Fashion and Design in Ghana need to be in abundant supply, not scarce, across Africa.

Furthermore, governments across the African continent should set quotas on the import of second-hand clothing from the West.

The goal would be to stop relying on the West and boost local manufacturing and development instead. The East African Community (EAC), composed of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda, has gone as far as to propose a ban by 2019.

For the meantime, African designers, seamstresses, tailors, and retailers are competing with Western clothes ranging from printed shirts to blouses to leather jackets to sport jerseys.

Sylvia Owori, a designer based in Uganda, says that “about 90 percent of the clothing people are buying in the whole country are second-hand clothes — so as a small fish, how are you going to start to compete with that?”

Sylvia Owori

These clothes have appeal because they are priced cheaply and allow Africans to emerge themselves in Western culture by dressing the part. A pair of jeans could be sold for as little as $1.50.

At first glance, bundles of our worn clothes might seem like benevolent gifts from the West, but they are actually hindering the progress of the African fashion industry and economy.

“The fashion industry can become a big business in Africa … even more with government support” – Lexy-Mojo Eyes

Andrew Brooks, professor of Geography at King’s College London, explains that “[Western] t-shirts may be quite cheap for someone to buy, but it would be better if that person could buy a locally manufactured t-shirt, so the money stays within the [country]” instead of circulating overseas. As the proverb goes, “charity begins at home.”

Not only will they be contributing to the success of homegrown designers but to their respective economy as a whole.

According to Ventures Africa, “If there is any time to invest in the African fashion industry, it is now.” Those who invest first will likely be the biggest beneficiaries of them all.

According to Euromonitor Internations, “the combined apparel and footwear market in sub-Saharan Africa [alone] is estimated to be worth US$ 31 billion.”

Deola Sagoe, a Nigerian designer in the industry for the past 25 years says that this is only a small fraction of what the fashion industry is capable of. It is time to turn this visionary potential into tangible prospects.

Omoyemi Akerele, the founder of Lagos Fashion and Design Week, realizes that investing in Africa does not come without its risks; you only need to to read, watch or listen to the news to be reminded of that.

Omoyemi Akerele – Founder of Lagos Fashion & Design Week

But she urges people to take a leap of faith and look beyond the rhetoric of corruption and images of war. She emphasizes that “he who observes the wind and waits for all conditions to be favorable will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.”

Beyond the glamour of clothes and runways, the fashion industry is a business that has the potential to play its part in efforts to create jobs, especially among young people. Compared to its counterparts, the African continent is home to the world’s youngest population.

According to the International Labor office, “youth make up as much as 36 percent of the total working-age population and three in five of Africa’s unemployed are youths.” Furthermore, UNICEF projects that by 2050, African children will make up close to 40 percent of children worldwide.

The fashion industry has the potential to create secured jobs for the African youths of today and tomorrow. NGOs and fashion organizations like the ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative, AFI’s Fastrack and Next Gen, and the LFDW Fashion Focus are already adding jobs across the continent.

Africa’s youthful population is more of an asset than it is a risk. Alemu says that the emerging African youths will bring “immense amount of energy and talent” to the fashion industry.

Africa has always been home to the creative hands and minds but it is just recently that the world began to knock at its door.

African fashion allows for the opportunity to make fashion statements that dispel stereotypes and myths about the continent.

It is a medium through which to spread African culture, from its authentic source to the rest of the world as well as create jobs for the upcoming youth back at home.

The industry needs both internal and external investment to reach its full potential. The time is now.

AMBER WILLIAMS: PEOPLE DON’T BUY PRODUCTS. THEY BUY STORIES

Amber Williams is the founder of Punkyflair, a brand story shop that serves beauty, fashion, and lifestyle startups. Building iconic statement-making brands is her jam, and she is committed to helping businesses grow authentically through a story.

Through Punkyflair, Amber has positioned new businesses in the marketplace, molded magnetic personalities, crafted money-making narratives, and named global product collections for leading brands like Camille Rose, Heat Free Hair, Shea Radiance, and Marjani.

Amber Williams connects young brands to the customers they want to reach through a story. She believes that story is the most critical business asset for one simple reason: it can’t be duplicated.

It is the key to building a brand that will withstand the test of time and last forever.

In this interview, she discusses how you can best understand your audience, communicate your vision, and sell with a story.  


Tell us how and why you started Punkyflair

 

My early career was spent in corporate America where I used my formal training in psychology and integrated marketing to create and launch brand strategies for companies like Armani Exchange, Volkswagen, The United States Olympic Committee, and Feeding America.

I was working within a world of limitless resources and possibilities in marketing. I had the freedom to be creative, spend however much was needed, and most importantly – test the water.

After several years of implementing creative brand marketing campaigns, I realized that my signature approach to every strategy I created was rooted in a story.

Every idea, every narrative, and every message I built told a story. Inadvertently, I used my knack for writing and understanding of human behavior to put words together that would sell clothing, jewelry, cars, and even promote funds for world-renowned athletes.

Every idea, every narrative, and every message I built told a story - @punkyflair Click To Tweet

I was a storyteller. At 29, I decided that I would package up my approach and all of my corporate learnings into a framework that would help startups launch and grow their businesses.

I created Punkyflair to empower entrepreneurs with the tools, training and thinking necessary to understand their audience, communicate their vision, and sell with the story.

Today, I have the good fortune of doing so for leading woman-owned brands like Camille Rose, Heat Free Hair, Marjani, BLK+GRN, and Shea Radiance.

What is brand storytelling and where does it fit in marketing strategy?


Simply put, brand storytelling is a method for connection. If you consider your favorite storybook or movie, there is most likely a character in it that resonates most with you.

Maybe it’s because you see yourself in them. Perhaps it’s because that character represents who you want to be. All great stories make you look at yourself and consider how you connect to the tale being told. Brand storytelling is no different.

A great brand story lets your customers know why you exist and how you fit into their lives. When done well, your brand provides the perfect reflection for who they already are but better.  Brand storytelling is the most effective, non-salesly way to build meaningful and profitable relationships with the customers you want to reach.

A great brand story lets your customers know why you exist and how you fit into their lives.” - @punkyflair Click To Tweet

How can businesses effectively explore the core elements that make up their customer profile?

 

All businesses should view their customers as the star characters in their brand story. Everything that your brand does–from operations to product innovation and marketing–should be built around your customer. It always amazes me how many entrepreneurs are willing to skip this essential first step.

A strong customer profile is made up of three key elements: perspective, preference, and personality. Understanding your customer’s perspective is all about figuring out where your customer is coming from, the unique challenges they face, and what they really want from your brand.

The next step is to discover what your customer prefers by digging deep to understand purchase motivators and where your brand solution fits into their lives. Finally, you’ll want to explore your customer’s personality traits.

Doing so will help you tailor your messaging in a way that gets the people you want to reach to listen and buy from you.

A strong customer profile is made up of 3 key elements: perspective, preference, and personality - @punkyflair Click To Tweet

As they discover their customers, how do businesses determine the best approach in talking to their audience?

 

Now that you know more about your customers, you’ll want to speak to them in a language that they understand. The best approach is first to visualize precisely who this person is. Bringing the person you want to reach to life humanizes your communication.

It brings back the reality that you, as the brand, are talking to a real person. When working to craft your narrative, ask yourself these four questions:

  • Why does my brand exist?
  • What problem do we solve for our customers?
  • What values or beliefs do we stand on as a business?
  • How do our products/services make our customers’ lives better?

The answers to these questions make up your core brand narrative, letting your customers know exactly why they should trust and buy from you. Plaster them everywhere (tactfully of course)!

As businesses increasingly incorporate storytelling in marketing strategy, how can “Motherland Moguls” craft a brand story that yields customer action?

The marketplace is getting extremely crowded! It’s never been harder to cut through the clutter than it is now. Customers are continuously bombarded with marketing messages and brands are spending a significant amount of money just to stay visible.

In this landscape, the challenge lies in not only being seen, but in making money also. The best way that Motherland Moguls can yield a favorable action from their target customers is to keep a pulse on their customers’ wants and needs.

Don’t get too caught up in the competition and what they’re doing. Always remember that people are buying from your brand for a reason. Serve them and then explore what else you can create to serve them again. Be authentic and tell the story only you can sell.

What’s your go-to advice to a business owner trying to instill more brand storytelling?

 

My go-to advice is simple: take yourself out of it. Simple, right? The #1 thing you must do to grow your brand and instill more storytelling is to get yourself out of it.

Sure, you are the founder and mastermind behind the business. It was your sweat equity and creativity that launched the brand. You identified a problem and created a solution. It’s your baby. I get it.

However, if you want your baby to grow, you have to move out the way and tell a story in your marketing that centers around the customer, not yourself. Customers are drawn to brands that they can see themselves.

Make your story a two-way dialogue, not a diatribe about your own journey. Spend some time understanding what matters to your people: what values they hold, what additional problems they face, what viewpoints they have on the world and your industry. Create stories from the deeper emotional layers that (above all else) truly connect customers to brands.  

Customers are drawn to brands that they can see themselves. - @punkyflair Click To Tweet

What product and service offering do you have in the works to help rising entrepreneurs with brand storytelling?

 

I recently released Customer Kamikaze. my 3-part customer discovery framework. It’s the exact same framework I’ve used to help my startup clients scale their businesses (some into the millions) by understanding their customers and building their brand stories around them.

People love it because it’s self-paced and fun! The exercises are intuitive, simple and impactful. Also, the result, once the framework is applied, is far higher than the minimal cost of the product.

I wanted to create something super affordable, even for early-stage entrepreneurs, but something that would have a tremendous impact and set the tone for a brand story that sells.

What are you most excited about at the moment, and what are you working on next?

 

I’m most excited about my next chapter! I want to move in a direction that allows me to help multiple entrepreneurs at once. This fall, I’ll be speaking more and even playing around with group coaching and live workshops.

Brand story is a concept that I absolutely love teaching and one that I love to see entrepreneurs benefit.

Amber Williams is offering a free audio training on building lasting brands. Contact her here.


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