Our speaker for October was Elizabeth-Yemi Akingbade, founder of fashion brand Yemzi. We had 24 members attending and it was an inspirational talk. Elizabeth-Yemi takes inspiration from the iconography, colours and patterns derived from West Africa to produce luxury eco-conscious clothing and accessories. She shares her design skills and experience with young girls from marginalised backgrounds through workshops.
Yemi was born in Hackney and, after being adopted, grew up by the sea on the south coast. She went to the Art Institute of Design and along the way brought her sketches to create unique fabric designs; starting with a T-shirt collection and a pop-up in Paris Yemi went on to expand her skills through learning pattern cutting, bespoke tailoring, introducing silk and digital print, cutting and sewing to her repertoire. Her inspiration comes from exploring her African, Yoruba heritage and how deliberate body scars are used to communicate between families and tribes. She developed mood boards, use of colours /drawing / silhouette / use of different techniques and trends. Recently she has introduced tencel and bamboo to complement her use of silk.
Yemi has travelled to Ghana for inspiration and to the Berlin trade show, starting her journey at Bootstrap, Arcola street, Dalston with a fashion show on the roof top. Following this she linked up with fashion stylists to use her clothes on shoots, where she delights in seeing her clothes on models of all sizes. Bootstrap charity provided her with her first office in a container where she employed interns to work for her. Challenges included managing costs with cash flow and how to make lovely garments and a profit; managing staff who may not share her vison; models who do not know how to walk in clothes to the best advantage.
Initial distribution ideas were to sell through boutiques, but now Yemi has decided to sell directly to the customers on line through. Her web site, which is currently being upgraded, www.yemzi.com . Her scrunches are available locally in Mildmay / Newington Green road and on her website
Yemzi has shared her knowledge, and how to do a photohoot, through teaching at Peabody and Inspire School.
Flower & Produce
As most of you will know, the de Beauvoir Gardeners ran an event on Sunday September 27th, with stalls selling plants and a competition for artists to create works based around Pets, Wildlife and Flowers that was displayed on the railings around the church. All profits from the plant sales will be donated to De Beauvoir Food bank.
We had a very successful jam stall on Northchurch Road, on 27th September selling our entire stock and will give a 10% of profit donation to Solace. Buoyed by this we are looking to hold such an event for the Christmas fair. If you would like to contribute – jam, chutney, pickle or craft items let us know. We have jars if you need them for any preserving.
New Committee members – we welcomed 4 new members to join the committee, Ruth, Mary, Suzanne and Claire. As part of our ongoing planning for the year ahead we will shortly be sending out a small survey to all members, we would be very grateful if you could spend a few minutes on the questions.
Book group also continue to meet on Zoom, on October 20th at 8pm.
The book for the next meeting is Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyememi.
Reviews have said that the book sparkles with wit and vibrancy. Boy, Snow, Bird is a deeply moving novel about three women and the strange connection between them. It confirms Helen Oyeyemi’s place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of her generation.
Boy, Snow, Bird has been well received by the mainstream media but has subsequently been vilified by members of the trans community for having a transphobic ending (“I threw the book across the room”), but we didn’t realise this when the book was chosen by our group.
Solace Women’s Aid
We have been in touch with Solace and they hope to be in a position to accept physical donations towards the end of the year.
However, in the meantime, we could support the women and children living in their refuges by buying gift cards (maximum spend £20) which would enable them to buy what they needed. With a gift card they can choose items for themselves, in itself an empowering act. If you would like to donate a gift card to Solace then we are setting up a collection point (email in for details) and then we can send a package of gift cards off to Solace.