The girls’ family made the journey from Nigeria to the UK when they were both very young, so all they remember from growing up is UK life and culture. As they grew older, they began to realise that they had a cultural heritage that they didn’t know a lot about. The turning point came when Adeola took part in a programme with the National Youth Service after university, that involved travelling to a different country.
“I went to university in Aberdeen, and decided to go back to Nigeria, and while I was there, I went to the markets, saw all the fabrics, and was amazed. I just knew my friends would love them! I thought, how have I never had access to these kinds of clothes in the UK? The whole time I was a student at uni, there just wasn’t a place I could go to buy African print clothing, it was always either a relative, or a friend of my mum who would be visiting from Nigeria, and they would bring something over for us as a present”.
A GAP IN THE MARKET
This new exposure to her cultural heritage made Adeola realise that she wanted to see the barriers broken down for people to be able to access and celebrate this beautiful aspect of their national identity, especially her fellow students from a similar background. As president of the Afro Carribbean Society at her university, Adeola was already on the look-out for similar things to engage the members of the society, and keep things fresh and vibrant, but always struggled to find Africa represented in fashion and popular culture. The society just had to be resourceful and make do with the things they already had access to.
But Adeola had seen a need, and a gap in the market that she believed she could fill, by bringing print fabric and accessories over to the UK, and creating opportunities for business. Initially, Adeola and Jane started advertising African print clothes on an app called Depop, which is a little bit similar to Instagram, only you can sell from your account, and buy from other people. It’s a way to sell second hand items, but also, is a good way to start a small business. The response they received on Depop was overwhelmingly positive. The sisters were quite surprised, as they were expecting things to be a lot slower off the mark.
Word got out quickly, and customers, not just from the UK, but from America and Italy, were flocking to buy these items!
“People were literally demanding this fabric from us, and we were like “ok, ok, I’ll get you your fabric!”, Adeola laughed. “We were so excited when we realised that there is a market for this, people are interested, and have so much love for what we were doing. The next big question was “how do I scale this up into a proper business? That’s where Jane came in…”
As Adeola was coming back from Nigeria, and bringing all these fantastic new clothes with her, Jane fell in love with them. “I would go to her room and steal her stuff”, she said.
When Jane was still living and working in Nigeria, she was limited logistically, so was not practically able to sell anything in the UK, so Jane became the manager of the UK base of the newly formed business. Adeola would ship things to Jane, and Jane would distribute them to UK based customers. By this point, the girls were selling their products to stores, as well as Etsy, and other online places. Jane, with her background in technology and IT, was able to use her skills and past experience to design and develop their new website, cultureville.co.uk, which is their online store. What a big step up from Depop!
The mix of skills that both girls bring to the table really makes the business work well. Adeola explains, “Jane is a lot more tech savvy than me, whereas I am better at running the manufacturing processes, and managing relationships with suppliers, sourcing fabrics, and building networks with the people we work with”. These relationships are the lifeblood of the business, and are going a long way towards the girls’ goal of giving back and investing in the local communities in Nigeria, where opportunities are scarce, and poverty is a big problem.
“During the three years I lived in Nigeria, I had loads of time to spend in the markets, hanging out with the tailors and artisans, and developing real relationships with these suppliers. I got to understand their back stories, where they come from, and why they are in the positions they are in - getting to know them as people, and not just sources of business”. This network helps Cultureville thrive today.
“We are very intentional about how we nurture and sustain those relationships”, Jane explains, “we take a lot of trips to Nigeria, and we spend time with the tailors on an individual, first name basis - for example, we know when their birthdays are, how many people are in their families, when they get married, and even when someone has died. They feel comfortable to share these personal things with us. We never wanted to be distant, in an ‘us and them’ kind of way - we are all part of the same community, and we are passionate about continuing to build community with them”.
Through her organically grown social network, Adeola felt able to trust one particular lady to be a manager for the business on the ground in Nigeria, who could look after business matters in Adeola’s absence. Adeola had known this lady for a very long time, and the lady had an in-depth knowledge of the way things worked, as well as the unique challenges facing it, and its strengths. Her role was to hold everything together by buying the fabrics, building the supply chain, and things like that. She continues to manage the business as it grows, and as Jane and Adeola continue to add new suppliers and tailors to their network. “As you grow, you need to ensure you have the capacity and the infrastructure in place”, says Adeola. “The first manager was based in Abuja, but since then, we have added a new manager in Lagos, the commercial centre of Nigeria. In Lagos, there is a wider variety of fabrics, and a wider variety of suppliers, so that really feeds into our growth”.
Watch Morrison’s entire remarks on freedom of expression and the role of the writer from 2008.In addition to her work as a writer, Morrison was also a teacher, editor, and mentor. In 2014, she told NEA Arts Magazine about writing guidance she once gave her students.
“When I taught creative writing at Princeton, [my students] had been told all of their lives to write what they knew. I always began the course by saying, ‘Don’t pay any attention to that.’ First, because you don’t know anything and second, because I don’t want to hear about your true love and your mama and your papa and your friends,” she said. “Think of somebody you don’t know. What about a Mexican waitress in the Rio Grande who can barely speak English? Or what about a Grande Madame in Paris?
Things way outside their camp. Imagine it, create it. Don’t record and editorialize on some event that you’ve already lived through. I was always amazed at how effective that was. They were always out of the box when they were given license to imagine something wholly outside their existence. I thought it was a good training for them. Even if they ended up just writing an autobiography, at least they could relate to themselves as strangers.”
Morrison died August 5, 2019, at the age of 88.
You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.
Chloe Anthony Wofford "Toni" Morrison was an American novelist, essayist, editor, teacher, and professor emeritus at Princeton University. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. The critically acclaimed Song of Solomon brought her national attention and won the National Book Critics Circle Award.
If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.
The Toni Morrison Society was founded May 28, 1993, at the annual meeting of the American Literature Association in Baltimore, Maryland. At the invitation of Carolyn Denard, then an Associate Professor of English at Georgia State University, twenty-six scholars and supporters of Morrison's work met in Baltimore to establish the Toni Morrison Society as an official member of the coalition of American author societies that comprise the American Literature Association. With its founding, the Toni Morrison Society became the 41st author society of the Association and the fourth dedicated to an African American author.
Five months after the founding of the Society, Toni Morrison won the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature. With the increased interest in Morrison's works after she won the Nobel Prize, the Society quickly grew from a small body of devoted Morrison scholars in the United States to an international literary society of more than 600 members, whose home countries include Japan, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, France, England, Germany, China, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and Australia. The Advisory Board is made up of leading individuals in the academic, art, business, and lay communities who support and wish to enhance the mission of the Society. In 1995, the Society was incorporated and chartered in the state of Georgia. In 1997, the Society became a registered, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
Do you love chocolate?
Meet the lady behind the chocolate brand of worldwide fame, Hershey’s! Started in the USA, Hershey’s chocolate has gone far.
American businesswoman Michele Buck is the first female CEO of Hershey’s, and is the successor of John Bilbrey, since 2017.
Buck had worked at Hershey’s since 2005, and had previously worked at Kraft/Nabisco, having worked in very high profile roles for nearly 20 years. She has a very strong background in the food industry, and came into her CEO role knowing her stuff inside out. She has earned her position, and has put in years of work.
In this short video, Michele tells us a little bit about her early life, and why she is passionate about what she does.
The Making of a Manager - Julie Zhuo
Julie Zhuo is a leader in the tech industry. In this raw and honest book, she describes her own story of how she worked through the challenges of her co-workers becoming her employees overnight, and the new responsibility and dynamics that created for her.
At just 25 years of age, she had no formal training, or experience managing other people before, so she had to learn everything from scratch.
In this down-to-earth and human book, Julie shares simple and practical advice and information about the nature of management, and how to negotiate the challenges and stresses that go along with it.
A brilliant read for anyone aspiring, new to, or experienced in management.
Buy it now on Amazon...
World Top Directors Within Corporations
Dame Carolyn McCall - Chief Executive of ITV
Carolyn was born in India to British expat parents. She grew up in both India and Singapore, completing her university degree in Kent, UK. She started her career as a teacher, and after gaining her masters degree in Politics, she held roles in the construction industry, research planning, and sales and advertising at Guardian Media Group. In 2006, she became the CEO of Guardian News and Media. Since then, she has been Non-Executive Director of New Look, Lloyds Bank, and Tesco.
McCall is new to the role of CEO of ITV, and is eager to bring a fresh perspective, and a forward thinking edge to the company, bringing it full steam ahead into the digital age, leaving behind a “cosy, traditional” feel.
McCall is inspiring to fellow women who aspire to succeed in business, because of her energy, creativity and drive. As well as being a business woman, she has a husband and three children whom she is devoted to. As well as being highly motivated and a doer, she is a passionate advocate of work life balance.
In this article, taken from a live conversation with Carolyn McCall at Bloomfest, a high profile networking event for women in the communications industry, she talks about breaking harmful female stereotypes, and the challenges of running a business while bringing up three teenage children...
In our Employability and Entrepreneur Academies, we believe in and champion people who feel like they don’t fit in with the way things are normally done, who have gifts, talents and interests that are unique and different. We encourage people to find their own voice, and create their own niche.
This is what our founding director Anita Frost did in her own life. She had a hard time fitting in at school - Her high energy and relentless enthusiasm often meant that she got told off a lot at school, as many people thought that these things were a liability.
But later in life, these amazing and rare qualities would become her greatest assets, as she funnelled them into creating what Curricula & Co is today - helping and inputting into many people and businesses, each making a mark on the world, bringing their own unique flavour!