I was recently invited to participate in the Lionesses of Africa Start-Up Night! here in London. What an amazing and inspiring evening! For those of you who are not familiar with Lionesses of Africa, it is a platform where women entrepreneurs from Africa and the Diaspora, celebrate their success, exchange stories, connect and network, learning from each other, and inspire and mentor the next generation of female-led startups in Africa.
Start-up Night! Africa events take place in major cities across the world and are designed to stimulate market access for Africa's exciting next generation of high potential women entrepreneurs.
The Start-Up Night! African here in London was held at the Oxo Tower on the South Bank overlooking London’s skyline.
The women entrepreneurs and brands to be showcased from Africa were Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, founder of Gorilla Conservation Coffee, a high impact coffee brand from Uganda, Adele Dejak, founder of Adele Dejak, a luxury jewellery designer from Kenya, Akosua Afriyie-Kumi, founder of AAKS, a luxury handbag brand from Ghana, Kim Addison, co-founder of 57 Chocolate, the artisanal bean-to-bar chocolatier from Ghana and Swaady Martin, founder of Yswara, the luxury African tea brand from South Africa, who we featured in our Luxury African Series previously.
And the entrepreneurs and brands from the Diaspora in London were Afua Dabanka, the founder Mo-Saique shoes, a handcrafted African inspired shoe brand, Hazel Aggrey Orleans, founder of Eki Orleans, a luxury African printed silk design brand, Mimi Shodeinde, founder of Miminat, a contemporary African inspired furniture brand, as well as Eva Sonaike.
The Oxo 2 venue with its breathtaking view over the Thames and London’s skyline, was the perfect location for a unique collaboration amongst the participating brands showcased on the night - a joint fashion photoshoot featuring all the creations and products on show from each of the women pitching their businesses.
Taking up the challenge to organise models, photographers, stylists, and products for the shoot, were Eki Orleans, and her stylist Alisson Rodrigues who coordinated the colourful and luxury African multi-brand photoshoot which captured the spirit of collaboration between the women entrepreneurs being showcased on the evening.
The featured silk designer gown worn by model Mona M Ali came from Eki Orlean’s ‘Journey Through The Deep’ collection; the bold jewellery pieces were provided by Adele Dejak, whose brand of the same name is winning fans around the world; the handwoven basket handbags were provided by accessory brand AAKS from Ghana; the beautifully shoes came from London-based luxury shoe brand Mo Saique. The cushions, pouffes and lamps in the pictures are from our Aburi Rise collection and gracing our copper Aburi pouffe are chocolates by 57 Chocolate from Ghana, Gorilla Conservation Coffee from Uganda a bottle of extra virgin olive oil by Rio Largo Olive Oil and a rose-gold tea tin by Yswara, both from South Africa.
Melanie Hawken, the founder and CEO of Lionesses of Africa commented: “The resulting photographs not only celebrate the incredible depth of creative talent on the African continent and the Diaspora but also a wonderful collaborative spirit that exists amongst women entrepreneur global brand builders.”
Creative Director & Stylist: Alisson Rodrigues @cmacam
Dress Stylist: Betty Kabir @angels_or_demons_uk_ng_ru
Photographer: Gavin SF @gavinsfp www.gavinsf.co.uk
MUA: Jasmine Hamilton @lovehughmua
Model: Mona M. Ali @monamali_