AwareNow: Issue 25: The Light Edition

Page 84

TANITH: I love that the clothing that you are creating carries a story and a legacy that can be left behind through the patterns you have created. What legacy do you hope to leave for the next generation?

CLAIRE: We have a vision that every child grows up in a world where they feel valued. That is driving everything that we do with Akwa Baby. That's what we try and come back to with every single movement.

OGO: I owned a business in property for a long time. I hadn't necessarily been loving and enjoying what I was doing. It was something that provided for me and my family. I realised kids don't listen to a word you say; they copy what you do. I wanted my children to grow up knowing that they can be the best version of themselves. They can be, do or have anything they put their minds to. I realised I can't be preaching that to my children when they look at me every day going to work, feeling dejected, thinking ‘you don't look happy, and then you're going to tell me that I should go out and pursue my dream? Come on’. So I thought about setting up this business, which we're genuinely passionate about. It allows us to work from home and spend time with our children. I pick up and drop off my kids to nursery every day. I'm hoping that as they grow up, that instead of potentially taking a job that they don't have any passion for they would be inspired to do something that they actually love. I think they're more likely to have a positive impact on the world if they're doing something they genuinely love.

TANITH: As Akwa baby grows and expands, what are your hopes and dreams for the future?

CLAIRE: The main reason we started Akwa Baby was shopping for our children and seeing on the high street rows of pinks and blues, western style prints and really cliche messaging. We hated the fact that if you had really bold colourful prints or any reference to African culture within fashion, it was seen as a passing trend and I just thought it deserves to be so much more. It should be in the mainstream—these bold unisex colours. We wanted to create some ripples in the marketplace. We wanted it to be really inclusive and to reach as many families and children as possible with our prints and message. We’d love to become a positive hub to encourage parents to have confidence in opening up conversations about race and equality. We've got all sorts of hopes and dreams for Akwa baby.

OGO: I’d love to see more people wearing bright colourful clothing, especially in this country, I remember getting stopped at a petrol station recently because I was wearing an African top and the guy commented on it. Certainly brightened up my day and I would love to see more people wearing and doing that. I also hope that when people recognise the African origin on some of the patterns it helps to dispel the old vision of Africa, the one of hopelessness and famine. To see a more modern version, where there is poverty and famine and these things need to be addressed, but there's so much more. We've got such high culture, amazing history and especially the youth in Africa doing some amazing things. I think Afrobeats has been helping with that and people's perception of it is changing. I would really like my children to grow up in a world where there's more of a positive perception of Africa. ∎


Director of International Development, The Legacy Project, RoundTable Global Tanith is leading change management through commitment to the RoundTable Global Three Global Goals of: Educational Reform, Environmental Rejuvenation & Empowerment for All. She delivers innovative and transformational leadership and development programmes in over 30 different countries and is also lead on the international development of philanthropic programmes and projects. This includes working with a growing team of extraordinary Global Change Ambassadors and putting together the Global Youth Awards which celebrate the amazing things our young people are doing to change the world.