To mark Black History Month, here is a selection of trail-blazing female artists and exquisite lifestyle brands to have on your radar.
From an awaited book launch to gorgeous fashion accessories, or the latest beauty must-have, this list offers the inspiration that you need to celebrate Black History Month in style.
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IN FASHION: AAKS
Invest in a high quality handcrafted handbag from AAKs to carry your work, vacation, or daily essentials with quintessential elegance in bold and vibrant colours.
The made-in-Ghana fashion and homewares brand was founded by Akosua Afriyie-Kumi to promote the ancestral weaving techniques from the women of Ghana, with the aim of showcasing their impressive craftsmanship and creating sustainable jobs in Africa.
Using ecologically harvested raffia and sophisticated dyeing techniques to create original colours for its collections, AAKS handbags are skillfully crafted by local artisan weavers and beautifully finished off with leather. No two bags are exactly alike, making them highly collectable.
IN JEWELLERY: Omi Woods
Omi Woods is a Canada-based jewellery brand that showcases contemporary interpretations of heirlooms synonymous with Africa and its diaspora spanning Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas.
Each jewellery is ethically handmade with fair trade African gold and conflict-free fine metals sourced from different parts of the world. Omi Woods jewellery are mostly designed to be worn as daily accessories, or to be gifted for special occasions and passed down to future generations.
Jewellery pieces feature countries’ national flags, symbols, decorative ornaments, or cowrie shells that were used as currency in the trade networks of Africa, South Asia, and East Asia.
Necklaces, particularly, have flexible designs that make them easy to wear in different ways.
Omi means “water” in the Yoruba language. Together with the word “woods” it pays homage to founder and CEO Ashley Alexis McFarlane’s Jamaican-Ashanti-Maroon heritage.
IN LITERATURE: Bernardine Evaristo
There is no Black History Month without celebrating the life experiences of inspirational people of African descent in the literary world. This year I have chosen to pay homage to trailblazing writer, theatre-maker, teacher, mentor and activist, Nigerian-British Bernardine Evaristo, MBE.
She is the author of eight books and numerous other works in fiction, short fiction, poetry, essays, literary criticism, journalism, radio and theatre drama. Her book thematics centre on exploring aspects of the African diaspora: past, present, real, and imagined.
In 2019, thanks to her novel Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo made history by becoming the first Black woman to win the Booker Prize since its launch fifty years earlier.
The fictional book explores issues of identity, race, womanhood, and the realities of life in modern Great Britain. Girl, Woman, Other narrates the beautifully interconnected stories of twelve characters on their personal journeys through the UK over the last hundred years.
In her highly anticipated book release Manifesto on Never Giving Up, Booker prize-winning trailblazer, Bernardine Evaristo shares her life story faced with the odds of racism, sexism, and elitism. This is a story of resilience, tenacity, and unwavering faith, leading her to breaking down boundaries in the academic and literary world to have a seat at decision-making tables. Manifesto on Never Giving Up is out on October,7, 2021.
THE BEAUTY BUY: Bouclème
Upgrade your haircare routine with the fantastic curl and coil friendly products from clean beauty brand Bouclème.
Launched in October 2014, Bouclème is a unique haircare brand that was created to offer high quality products that deliver healthy, frizz free curls and waves using plant powered ingredients.
Michele Jane Scott-Lynch, Black British founder and CEO of the clean curl care brand confessed that she battled against her hair until she was in her thirties. Her frustration to constantly have to rely on sulphate and silicone based curl brands to take care of her hair led her to create the Bouclème haircare line that is tailored specifically to curls, kinks and coils.
The idea was to offer British women with curly, kinky, and coily hair high performing haircare products that help clean, hydrate, and nourish their scalp and hair without stripping away moisture and weighing down their curls.
Although sounding French, the Bouclème range was conceived, created, and is manufactured in the UK.
THE HOMEWARES: Bolé Road Textiles
Add a sophisticated piece of luxurious African textiles into your home, courtesy of Bolé Road Textiles.
After a long career in interior design in an architecture firm, New York based Ethiopian designer, Hana Getachew started Bolé Road Textiles to introduce the world to luxurious Ethiopian handwoven fabrics, with the mission to support artisans in Ethiopia.
Growing up in North America surrounded by fabulous traditional Ethiopian textiles, she was inspired to create a brand that showcases her affinity for the vibrant colours and graphic patterns of her upbringing. Her designs for Bolé Road are an homage to her cultural heritage and a symbol of her global modern aesthetic.
Her brand name “Bolé Road” is named after the main road in Addis Ababa of the beautiful neighbourhood “Bolé” where her family’s home is based. A home she left at the age of three with her parents to live in Canada and the United States of America, and that she visited eighteen years later when she made her first trip back.