The activist and OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree just got her own Barbie and it’s cute.
As you may already know, the month of March is International Women’s Month and to celebrate, Barbie has unveiled its latest line of “Shero” dolls modeled after 20 inspirational women across multiple industries in conjunction with their 60th anniversary.
One of the women whose image has been made into a doll is Adwoa Aboah, the British-Ghanaian model, activist and one of OkayAfrica’s 100 women 2019, who uses her online platform Gurls Talk, founded in 2015 to provide a safe space for young women to discuss a number of topics, that are often considered taboo.
“I started Gurls Talk off the back of my own experiences and struggles as a girl, and then a woman,” she tells OkayAfrica about the platform. “It became apparent to me that I’d lacked the confidence to share and speak out about the issues affecting me, and so I wanted to build a community within which all of those issues society deems taboo—such as sexuality, mental health and female physical health—were discussed openly.
Aboah’s doll comes in two outfits, one in a leopard skirt paired with a Gurls Talk t-shirt, as seen above, and another—our fav—in a colorful sequined number and head-wrap, which Aboah chose to replicate she wore when she won the British Fashion Council’s ‘Model of the Year’ award in 2017.
“I believe by working together we can encourage girls to find their authentic voices and that we can have an impact on the world for the next generation of girls,” she tells Vogue. “Through my work with Gurls Talk and partnership with Barbie, I hope we can inspire girls to try to change the world around them, through acts big or small.”
Other “Shero” dolls include one of Yara Shahidi, Naomi Osaka and Frida Khalo. Barbie released its first hijab-wearing doll back in 2017, in honor of the Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.
Aboah is recognized, along with several other groundbreaking African women who are positively impacting youth culutre on the continet, on OkayAfrica’s annual 100 Women list. Learn more about the women who made this year’s list here.
There Is No Financial Security In Modeling – GTP Model Araba Sey
Award winning Ghanaian engendered model, Miss Araba Sey has revealed that, contrary to assumption which is accepted to be true without verification or proof, the Ghanaian modeling industry is financially unbarred.
According to her, the modeling industry is not financially oriented explaining that, persons employed to pose for an artist, photographer, or represents a brand activates their monetary status positive as to when they pen contractual dealings with their employees.
A cross section of patrons with the assumption believes that, models and the modeling sector at large is commercially active and capable of providing their craft with encouraging funds that has the potential of easing their way of living.
Meanwhile speaking in an interview in Nigeria, the Brand Influencer, Araba Sey dismissed the notion that professionals in the industry are financially stable because they often wonder when the next pay cheque will come from.
She explained that, modeling act can't be synchronized to monthly wages profession where as, employers are entitled to successive monthly remuneration or recompense employers for their worthy services. She added that, Models look financially attractive anytime there is a new endorsement from brands, even though it is not predestined.
However, youth activist and a philanthropist, Araba Sey revealed that, models are exposed to opportunist who try to take advantage of their desperate situation to satisfy their lustful pleasure.
The Ghanaian model urged up and coming models to establish a brand that will be a strategic advantage to their career and will embolden them with power to act effectively.
Miss Araba Sey has worked with notable and leading brands such as Ghana Textiles Printing Company Limited(GTP), Stanbic Bank, Nizoral Shampoo, Nigeria’s Superbold Magazine amongst others.
Click to watch full interview.
Virgil Abloh Responds To Off-White’s Lack Of Diversity Criticism.
Fashion has always had a diversity issue, and while the industry has made great strides in addressing it, there's still a lot of work left to be done. So when Virgil Abloh shared a behind-the-scenes photo of him celebrating his Milan-based Off-White staff at a party, fans were quick to notice the lack of black employees at the label.
Abloh posted photos of his graphic team and a group of art directors, which he called "crazy crazy talented kids," all of whom were white. In a viral tweet, one user wrote, "Not gonna lie I thought @virgilabloh would have some black people working with him but I’m not surprised."
Abloh being called out for Off-White's lack of diversity is especially unsettling for many fans since the 38-year-old is one of the leading black designers in the industry. He not only owns Off-White, but made history as the first black designer to ever be named Artistic Director of Menswear at Louis Vuitton. On Friday, May 3, following a wave of criticism, Abloh broke his silence in a statement encouraging people to focus less on the news and more on the black designers that he's collaborated with over the years.
"My design team is diverse as the world is big," the statement read, and added that the video was only intended to highlight the employees on his local Milan team.
"When questioned about diversity, Virgil Abloh takes pride in being African and American. His design team is diverse, and his practice has been built on making the art and design industry an inclusive community," the statement continued. "Fellow designers like Samuel Ross, Heron Preston, No Vacancy Inn - by Tremaine Emory and Acyde Odunlami, Everard Best, Photographer Fabien Montique, amongst many others have been given a platform via Off-White(TM). These are just a few of the many global voices and people sitting at the table and helping evolve the brand. Off-White(TM) is a black founded and owned business."
Abloh also posted photos of each designer he mentioned and all the black models that have been cast in his shows on his Instagram Stories on Friday afternoon, advising his detractors to "follow my whole design team. support their creative ideas. buy their clothes. attend their events. like their photos."
All You Need To Know About Chioma Onwutalobi, Founder Of Glam Africa magazine, And The Formula That Turned A One Man Business Into An International Business.
Chioma Onwutalobi was recently featured on Forbes highlighting her story as a successful entrepreneur. This feature highlights the journey of a 24 year old entrepreneur seeking to change the narrative associated with Africa. From a thriving legal career to diving into the publishing industry, she shared what led her down the path to working with some of Africa’s most prominent celebrities making Glam Africa the most distributed African lifestyle magazine today.
A Career in Law & Media to Get the Needed Experience:
Chioma’s career began in the legal department of London-based oil & gas firm. Qualifying as a lawyer was something she had always wanted to do. As part of her role, she found herself frequently traveling to various parts of Africa, often for months at a time, including Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, and The Democratic Republic of Congo. Whilst working on deals, she felt significantly disconnected to her country of origin and came to the realization that she knew very little about its neighboring African countries. When sharing this with her peers (many of whom are also second or third generation African immigrants) it became clear that this was a common theme and concern for them also. At university, Chioma had previously created one of Nigeria’s most popular news websites, which at one point ranked in the top 100 on Google Analytics so was familiar with the concept of distributing online content that would keep readers engaged and updated with trending news. It was a business model she could replicate on a larger scale. However, she wanted her platform to work across all mediums, from print and digital to social media and events.
Validating the Idea & Taking Steps to Make it a Reality:
In 2014, Chioma conducted the vital research required to get her business off the ground and create a lifestyle platform that would become Glam Africa. Luckily, she found herself in a favorable position with her media experience and legal career as, although the hours were long and she often worked into the early hours of the morning, the vast amount of corporate travel involved allowed her to keep on top of the key news stories in the various African countries. Over the next 12 months, she diligently mapped out her business structure, clearly outlining how she would finance the project, where and how she could distribute the product and which marketing channels would be most effective in Africa’s most vibrant communities. Unsurprisingly, however, she constantly ran into discouraging reactions when she shared her business plan with others in the publishing business. At that time in 2014, due to the increased use of online mediums for news, many publishers were shutting down and those that still remained were frantically restructuring their businesses in order to survive the changes. Unfazed by the noise, Chioma decided that she still wanted printed media to be a substantial element of the business, to complement the other online products and that she would figure out the best way to distribute the magazines in both Europe and Africa. Others whom she spoke with disapproved of the magazine’s name ‘Glam Africa’. Her critics commented that it was an unnatural juxtaposition, given that it was unusual to associate the two words with one another. However, Chioma knew exactly what she wanted her brand to convey and stayed true to the core message. The name stuck – something that would come to be a significant benefit later down the line.
Building Glam Africa as a business:
A year of planning later, Chioma was finally ready to launch her platform. She sought seed investment however, after some unsuccessful attempts, opted to take the riskier route and spent her savings on getting the business started. She had already researched the process of producing the magazine itself, however, two other variables required interest from external parties: getting her magazine stocked at retail stores and finding companies who would buy advertising space in the magazine. Chioma was fortunate with the timing of her venture, given that the perception and appreciation of African culture was on the rise, with persons of African origin around the world reconnecting with their roots through music, fashion, and art. Put simply, African culture was trending globally. International brands were, therefore, looking to gain exposure in the sub-Saharan region, and would only collaborate with professional and trustworthy media platforms. Moreover, African celebrities, business people and influencers were seeking fresh avenues to connect with their audiences. Brand and celebrities alike were intrigued by the company’s name and took interest in its ethos and mission. Glam Africa was perceived as a platform which had the pulling-power to attract their target customers effectively and many brands were keen to buy up marketing blocks. When approaching celebrities and influencers to feature in the magazine, Chioma always lead with her unique story and spoke with conviction and enthusiasm about what she was trying to create. Her brand identity was clear, bold and intriguing. This approach drew the interest of celebrity clientele, who wouldn’t normally feature in a lesser-known publication such as Glam Africa at the time of its inception. Chioma admits that the “timing was key, had I done this 10 years ago it may have not been possible or would have required substantially more investment”.
Glam Africa Today:
Today, Glam Africa publishes magazines globally on a quarterly basis. International superstars, such as Davido, DJ Zinhle and actress Omotola Ekeinde have famously featured on the covers. The magazine is distributed through thousands of stores across Africa such as Shoprite, Checkers and is also stocked in major retailers such as WH Smith in the UK. The online magazine is performing well in the US and its social platforms are thriving with high customer engagement on both Instagram and YouTube.
More recently, Chioma launched the “Glam Africa Beauty Box” where beauty brands could include their products in beauty boxes that are sent for free to new magazine subscribers. Chioma has made her business a success with her own resources and she is proud of her achievements. Rightfully so.
Keeping The 5 Year Old Business Relevant:
She also hopes to have a positive impact on others through her platform. This desire was the motivation behind the “Beyond Beauty” campaign she ran last year, which featured inspirational women from all walks of life gracing the cover of the magazine, including a model with burns another with alopecia and vitiligo. She is continuing her mission with follow-up events such as the flagship “Diversity Forum Live” to be launched in London this June, in collaboration with the prestigious London College of Fashion, The Muslim News and support from Olympia Beauty.
Glam Africa is set to achieve big things and Chioma’s decision to switch up her career, take a risk with her savings, conduct in depth research before starting a business is one which she absolutely does not regret.
Abrima Erwiah (Designer Of The Week)
At the forefront of ethical fashion is Abrima, a former Bottega Veneta executive who started Studio 189 with her best friend, Rosario Dawson, after a trip with V-Day throughout the continent. The pair produce all their apparel in Ghana made from recycled glass jewelry, batik cotton and indigo-dyed separates.
With 15 years of vast experience in the fashion industry, designer Abrima Erwiah has set up her global fashion knowledge to contribute and give meaning to Africa’s sustainable fashion industry. Having worked as a worldwide marketing and communication director for Bottega Veneta, Abrima’s career took a new path in 2011 when she launched the Fashion rising collection to create awareness on violence against women. A journey that gave birth to a new mission led to the establishment of Studio One Eighty Nine in 213.
She collaborated with actress Rosario Dawson, creating economic opportunities for artisans with the human hand playing a central role, offering empowerment and educational opportunities in Ghana. Abrima has partnered with prominent global fashion players to activate her social brand, varying from retail partners such as Opening ceremony to collaborations with Ethical fashion initiative.
The social designer is working to push new opportunities for young talent and create jobs in order to have an impact on people’s lives. In 2015, she was amongst the many amazing talents that took part in the Vogue experience in Dubai.
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