Small/independent businesses can find it hard to compete with the ‘slash all prices’ nature of major shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Whilst large established retailers can afford to drastically cut their prices in a bid to attract shoppers, for the small business owner following suit could mean barely making a profit and negatively impacting their bottom line. Enter Small Business Saturday an annual event that encourages consumers to support their local small independent business owners by spending their money with them instead.
Despite being the season of peace and goodwill to all, December can be one of the most stressful times of the year, as we get caught up in the finishing of work, hitting those goals before the new year, and of course the flurry of activity that comes with the social aspect of the season. So rather apt for this time of year is the annual Tounché Global Consciousness Summit. Taking place just outside of Johannesburg, South Africa at the Nirox Sculpture Park in The Cradle of Humankind on Saturday 8th December 2018 the Summit is all about a facilitating a collective shift in consciousness in our increasingly polarised world through individual self-realization, and hence the name Tounché which means shift in the Yoruba language of Nigeria and Benin.
No-one wakes up and automatically knows how to run a business. It is a skill that needs to be learned and honed over time, even if you have a natural talent for it. As a creative entrepreneur, I stumbled many times in the early years of trying to build a successful business. I had no immediate examples of what I needed to do, so just went with what I thought would be the right things to do. Much of my early ideas about business were borne from novels featuring successful heroines who made having their dream businesses look easy and that made me want to be like them. Reality bites and separating fantasy from reality has been a long and difficult path to where I am now.
Trees are important in rural African culture, they bring people together, making them the focal point of the community. A lot happens under a tree, people sit seeking refuge from the rays of the sun, leisurely watching the world go by, church services take place, school lessons conducted, a visiting health clinic sets up triage, and craftswomen lay their mats down sitting atop them, a baby or two sleeping beside them, as they weave baskets, bead clothing, jewellery and more, their skillful hands not missing beat as they catch up on the latest news and gossip.
More and more people are shunning chemically formulated on the shelf beauty products in favour of natural, holistic handcrafted formulations, and the beauty industry has witnessed a rise in brands around the world catering to this need by tapping into their own homegrown beauty rituals and bringing them to global attention. And Africa is no exception. Natural skin care ingredients such as cocoa butter and shea that have been used by African women for centuries are being recognised for their benefits, but we are only just scratching the surface. Fruit of the African soil, ingredients such as baobab, marula, and rooibos are all being used to create luxury natural skin care brands that are proudly made in Africa. And among the names to know is 54 Thrones, a luxury handcrafted beauty brand on a mission to show the Africa we know, by celebrating the continent’s rich diversity in natural resources through skin care.
Today marks 8 years of blogging, four of those as Atelier Fifty-Five. Originally called African Daydreams when I changed the name I was asked why the name Atelier Fifty Five, in other words, what did it mean, what was its relevance. So here goes:
Trésors d’Afrique translates as Treasures from Africa, and is an ode to past and present, culture and modernity presented in the form of luxury jewellery pieces by the prestigious French jeweller and watchmaker Chaumet in collaboration with Kenyan artist, Evans Mbugua who is based in Paris. Trésors d’Afrique is third and final destination in the Mondes du Chaumet collection, a globe-trotting journey through jewels that has taken in the splendours of Russia, and Japan. Chaumet is inspired by the coming together of different cultures that celebrate and honour majestic femininity to create new ideas, imagined by their master jewellers who continually push the limits of what is possible with jewellery.
Bolgatanga in Ghana’s Upper East Region is synonymous with basket weaving, and the distinctive round-bellied Bolga Market basket with its sturdy handles. Building on the region’s basket weaving heritage local business The Baba Tree Basket Company is producing some stunning gravity-defying basket designs, woven from locally sourced natural materials and dyed in vibrant colours.
Water Hyacinth is a plant that takes root in waterways the world over, causing destruction to aquatic and plant eco-systems. For communities that rely on their waterways for food, livelihoods, and transportation water hyacinth blocks access to the water essential to their survival. In Nigeria, a local social enterprise, MitiMeth, is harvesting water hyacinth and turning it into functional handcrafted products, and empowering members of the local community.
I have mentioned my love of tea several times on the blog. For me, it is about more than justing drinking it, but rather a chance to take a break unwind, relax and reflect. So naturally, am drawn to brands that create an exceptional tea drinking experience. And recently discovered Sayra, a high-end tea house that celebrates the art and history of Moroccan tea drinking rituals.