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Slave to Fashion kickstarter Campaign

The last several months have seen us pass through two periods that profoundly affect me. The first was Earth Day, a time to reflect on our place in the world and how we promote balance with our natural environment. Linked to that was Fashion Revolution Week. All revolutions are made up of small meaningful steps we take every day. That is as true of revolutions in fashion as it is of politics.

determined postivity Natasha Taneka
Take your first step!

Following my passion of helping revolutionise the global fashion industry, through my time as a volunteer with Trusted Clothes, I have had the opportunity to learn about how some of those first steps are taken which are making a change for the better.

Two interviews we at Trusted Clothes carried out with Safia Minney, a prominent British social activist and pioneer in the sustainable fashion movement, and Graphic designer and communications strategist Matt Morgan of Fact Studio really brought home how critical the change that is needed is.

The team of four (and an army that believes in the cause) are working presently on a project called “Slave to Fashion”, part of a new campaign to create a book and micro-documentaries to give consumers an opportunity to be part of the change that has been highlight in the past few weeks. The team has the best people with heart and strong subject knowledge to deliver a transformative strategy to lead the fashion industry towards better fair business practices and transparent supply chains. 

When confronting something as extensive and integrated with the global economy and leisure practices it can seem like you can’t make a difference. From your phone, however, or computer you can take the journey and make a difference to reach a fashionable future where slavery has no place.

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The imagery of the book really captivated me, as it’s simple but subversive design drives the message that fashion can come out of the shadows of slavery and that “fashion can be used to empower workers – whilst creating, beautiful, competitive and accessible fashion.” The campaign ends soon but you can take your first step on the road to revolution by pledging now.

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It’s important, whether you are someone passionate about improving the lives of your fellow man, or whether you simply love sporting the newest style fashions in your community, we should all take part in educating ourselves, on our train rides to work, our lunch breaks or when reading and winding down before bed. You don’t have to be a committed full time activist to be a revolutionary.

We want you

Following “Slave to Fashion” the campaign will move on to documentaries and new publications which will inspire us all to walk the walk of what is a complex issue. Listen to Safia and Matt talk with us why this campaign is so important for businesses and consumers.

What Safia and the team are offering us is a new way to engage via pledging on kickstarter. Time is short….get to the site below and pledge what you can to end slavery in fashion.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/947623622/slave-to-fashion

#slavetofash

Natasha Taneka

Collaboration with Aperio films

Featured

Retro Fashion and Feminism

Bought my first retro super feminine dress from Collectif and absolutely love the dress. It’s a green wiggle dress with fun black polka dots.  I have always been interested in old hollywood elegance and movies like Grease, but thought the fashion style belonged in the past. This is because I associated that era with how limited women’s rights were and didn’t want to be a collaborator in women’s oppression. This is probably why it took so long for me to delve in to the 1950’s fashion world,but boy am I ready now!

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Dress : Regina Polka Flock Dress from Collectif  Shoes: Black Heels from Guess by Marciano 

This new passion gave me the opportunity to sit down and think what is really putting me off about classic romantic silhouettes. After having a long think, I concluded it was mainly two things. I felt I would not be a feminist if I wore cloths in the style of women who had no other choice but to wear such clothing for the ‘male gaze’. Secondly, I was personally not fully comfortable with all my natural curves being visible, so my style tended to focus on hair and shoes.

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After further thought, I decided being a feminist to me is about being body positive, and having the choice to adorn your body in whatever manner I wanted without fear of judgement from society. I kept in mind the cultural context in which the retro fashion was created, whilst acknowledging how liberating it was for me to wear them. Embracing my pinup measurements instead of hiding them allows me to exercise agency to be confident and glamorous.  In addition, I really cherish how the retro community is very inclusive as it has all sizes of people able to participate and radically encourage confidence.

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I absolutely love modern vintage glamour outfits, make up, and hair styles. There are now so many stores available and fatale women that bring inspiration and joy to this growing fashion sub culture. For a dose of enchanting vintage style, I follow Angelique NoireForever AmberJenny Rieu and Chicago Chic.

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 Retro fashion can also force us to reflect and see what truly inspires us about our past and what aspects of it we want to carry forward. Fashion has a beautiful position that can invite you to recognize, engage, appreciate and enjoy the body you have. This dress is my nod to femininity, fun, and body positivity.

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Featured

Wrap it Up …keep warm and still slay them ….. Global Fashion Inspirations

Sometimes as we have the same friends, same social network accounts we follow …we at times unknowingly limit our sources of inspiration. Sometimes the internet lands you on a website that is new and if willing it can take you on a ride. This is what happened to me this afternoon, although I don’t cover my hair daily for spiritual reasons, I enjoy a very well wrapped cloth around the head every once in a while. It’s perfect for me on bad hair days or when I’m feeling regal. Yes, when I work that scarf on my head, I feel like royalty!

African Queen

Here are a few ladies that look magnificent and fiercely beautiful with their headgear and fashionably modest. Not long ago, the fashion for a majority of women and men was to not display a lot of skin, and that has changed. However the fashion below is refreshingly artistic and can keep you warm! Its a nice break from all that skin, bones and meat in the media. There is extra effort and love in their unique looks that we can all enjoy and possibly incorporate into our wardrobe.

Layered Spin to revitalize that hat!

Incorporate your pearls with it

Purple Everything with Pink Frames!
Purple Everything with Pink Frames!
Get out of my way!!!
Get out of my way!!!
No boundaries here....amazing Lolita combo!
No boundaries here….amazing Lolita combo!
Statement colours...layered powerful perfection!
Statement colours…layered powerful perfection!
So many styles ...so many tutorials...go on and wrap it up!
So many styles …so many tutorials…go on and wrap it up!
Pink!
Pink!
World cant stop me now!
World cant stop me now!
Soft touch of Strength
Soft touch of Strength
She makes drinking coffee look so darn cool!
She makes drinking coffee look so darn cool!
Rich colours and fabrics.
Rich colours and fabrics.
Serving Face
Serving Face
Bright colors!!
Bright colors!!

Classy and Comfy...best combo ever!

Featured

A Leap, Hop, Jump, Altogether

It’s been a while since I wanted to see Paris. I finally did it. I had many motivations and reasons to see it. Paris is one out of a few trips I didn’t do off the whim. I have to say it took effort, negotiation and timing. Kinda like taking this picture did!  It look several leaps,hops, jumps all together.

Leap, Hop, Jump Altogther
Leap, Hop, Jump Altogether

I can officially say I did it, and like the long distance relationship…it had its surprises (good and bad) and was worth the wait. I recently travelled for love, not for my career, not for my family or for an education. Here in London, I get to travel for fun.

I’m taking what seems to be another leap in my life by living with my boyfriend, but lucky for me He likes to travel a lot. Travelling together gives us so much to learn about one another.

So as you may notice, the past year have been filled with dreams that I am happy to say I have checked off. Paris was a big one… The memories still big a big satisfying smile to my face but now that my feet are back on the ground … but its only left me thinking what’s next ….which makes me ask myself why did I want to go in the first place.

My travel experience for every reason deeply reflects what I’m going through, and I think Paris provided a sense of stability as I was so familiar with it via the media and it was within my budget. Travelling with my boyfriend, showed me we really did get along and it was not just a desire being fueled by distance.

That jump right there in the picture is happiness to have come out the brighter end of the adventure that began a year ago when I moved to London. The feeling of checked is a sense of accomplishment I may have to congratulate myself. Because like this trip, my life was rushed and required my best (best that I didn’t know I had). At the same time it was also packed with time suspended moments of pure happiness.

–       Maonei

Idle Hands are the Devil’s Work….

I have always been inspired by the way people dedicate their lives to creating a better collective future. Most leaders realise the importance of inspired communication in order to galvanise the people for change. From what they wear to what they say, it’s all crafted to be in unison with their overall agenda. One important way of communicating is through body language, and I believe it is one of the most effective strategies that one can harness. Spiritual rituals that use hand gestures as symbolic forms of energetic communication with others, and the self, are well known.  In addition, some of the best orators on the planet (President Barack Obama) strengthen the strongest lines with their hands to reinforce their message.

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We all know you can’t pass any set of high street shops or mall front without spotting a nail shop, so consumers appreciate the feeling one gets when your nail beds are glimmering with a fresh coat of your favourite colour and or a message of elegant sophistication. However, we are not always aware of what kind of nail polish we put on, let alone what we do with our hands.

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But not to worry, I recently discovered Zoya Nail Polish. This brand provides safe nail polish free of five dangerous toxins (Toluene, Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde resin, DBP (Phthalates) and Camphor. Moreover, this product is vegan friendly and cruelty free. Zoya’s natural and safe nail polish leaves us free to effectively and beautifully share our message with the world.

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So I’m sharing a few of my favourite hands gestures that do everything from calming my nerves, to making me feel fierce, to giving the appearance that I’m attentively listening to every word someone else is saying. It’s all proven useful to me because I believe communicating empathy through body language can diffuse a tense situation or encourage your allies to overcome challenges. So watch where your hands are going buddy! : P

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Nails By Zoya Nails and Dress by People Tree and photography by Kat Martin from Aperio Films aperiofilms.co.uk 

Slay Casual Friday like a Boss

So for some of us that went to schools were you had to wear a uniform, you can understand the excitement of wearing regular clothes during the week. Either during “spirit week”, a field trip, or fundraising day, it was your chance were you got to show your own unique personality. Funny though how as kids really we would show up in what was trending and look like clones within our cliques (happy clones we were nevertheless).  Unbeknown to the observer, small details within one’s crew made a statement. In adulthood, we have work wear, which is used to extend the message of the companies’ mission and culture. Most of the time, it doesn’t leave a lot of room to be creative, and so many work places have Casual Friday. A day at work, where we can be a little more relaxed which can do wonders to productivity of any team. Being able to bring a little more of you to the office increases employees chances of being engaged rather than just satisfied. And because I love fashion so much, it gives me another reason to look forward to Friday!

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Working now in the corporate world, when Casual Friday comes around I take into consideration the work culture whilst taking the opportunity to have fun and communicate my personal style.  Now you don’t want to have too much fun, as its still work. So to avoid any blunders, on your first Casual Friday at a new job, if you aren’t sure how casual to go (because there  is such a thing as too casual), just go to work formal and peek out what the rest are wearing. However if you really are lost, anything clean, not too revealing and not too busy will suffice.

My trick is to combine casual with formal. I wear my favourite pair of G-star Raw Jeans with a fitted T M Lewin shirt. I wear large cuffs with my shirts and white Guess by Marciano strappy heels to give my outfit depth and making it a conversation starter. It’s a perfect outfit in case one in pulled into a crucial meeting. But most importantly, when you head for after work drinks, you can roll up the sleeves and pop two buttons open and you’re ready to start the weekend like a boss!

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How  do you slay Casual Friday ? I would love to hear how you ♫ work work work work work ♫ that outfit!

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Fantastic Photography by chevrons & éclairs , Boss Lady Glasses by Ray Ban , Cool Cuffs from the hubby, Luscious Lip definer by Christian Louboutin, Bag is a Second Hand from the awesome Fam🙂

The Fashion Debates – Premiere

The Fashion DebatesInstagram has been working magic for me lately, as I have been finding great brands and events more easily than using google search.  My latest find was an event being held by co-founder Olivia Pinnock at the Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design called The Fashion Debates. It is an organization that holds a series of debates on critical topics in the fashion industry with an aim to encourage all stakeholders to question how to do business better for people and the planet.  Their first topic was ‘Can we put an end to sweatshop labor?”The event started 7 pm and it was a great feeling to join a line at the entrance filled with people buzzing with excitement for a challenging topic. Its been a few days now since the event, but let me tell you we were not disappointed.

The Fashion Debates Conde Naste

The night had people in attendance sharing their experiences and candid opinion about the state of the fashion industry. The encouraging ambiance was created by  the amazing panellists Olivia  fantastically brought together who didn’t hold back with the stark reality of the fashion industry but shared ways it which each was changing their own way of doing business better. Here are the golden nuggets I got from the night.

The Fashion Debates Fashion Worked

There was Clare Lissamen who really brought a lot of light hearted energy to a topic that can be very depressing (especially on a late Thursday night). She wears many hats from being the Co-founder of an ethical menswear brand called Arthur and Henry to being the Director of My Source. A great golden nugget that spoke to my constructivist theory background, was her focus on Norms. It’s so critical, and refreshing to discuss the patterns of human behaviour, taking a step back to see the lens of change throughout history to fully understand the problems we face today. The debate then pointed out how certain things such as mitigated labour rights were largely okay in the UK, and now are seen as morally repugnant, therefore highlighting its definitely within all of our power to end sweatshop labor globally. This was uplifting as sometimes it feels like injustices will never end, but starting little by little to create a new acceptable reality is important. We just have to remain optimistic, no matter what.

The Fashion Debates Speakers

The next impressive panellist was Stella Heng (Co-founder and Creative Director of Sports Philosophy) who shared an important aspect of her company’s focus, which was supporting consultants to travel to do field research in the countries Sports Philosophy wants to make an impact on child labor. It’s brilliant they send consultants who have dedicated their lives to understand the nuances of the challenges within child labor to do research and they use that data to guide them with what initiatives the company’s charity offers to communities. Also I think it gives agency to the communities to be part of their own solution, because that’s when you can ensure the development is sustainable.  This totally spoke to me as I had done my master’s degree on policies involving temporary foreign labour being heralded as the solution but not truly being the productive nexus between businesses and international development.

The Fashion Debates Stella Heng quote

The third panellist was the founder of the brilliant Fashion Revolution and founder of fair trade hat shop Pachacuti, Carry Somers. She discussed with us how dangerous it is for the labourers to strenuous working conditions to unionise , and shared facts of the number of people being murdered in their struggle for better working conditions. She further mentioned a connection between terrorism and the sourcing of cotton in areas within the Middle East that are under ISIS control, to highlight how crucial it is to us all that companies should be with ensuring supply chains are transparent. One of the reasons I attended this event is because as I learn more I feel overwhelmed with what is ethical enough.  Can you be ethical if you only wear pre-loved items, and what if it has fur? Is it okay for Pamela Anderson (PETA Activist) to advertise with Misguided, an online store with no transparency or CSR information on their website? Afterwards, I had the opportunity to share my concerns with Carry and I asked her for her opinion and she said you have to prioritize, then start by observing how much you buy and how much you use. Simple sustainable change in my consumer behaviour is what I have to keep in mind.

The Fashion Debates Carry Somers Quote

In short, I left the night fired up, as I had spent the evening with fashionistas sharing their stories and best practices. I literally can’t wait for the next debate. The Fashion Debates announced the next topic Is The Fashion Industry Racist?  Will I see you there? Get tickets here. If you cant make it follow them on Facebook, or Instagram for updates! Really looking forward to what Olivia Pinnock has started with her team to create space for ideas to be conversed, challenged with the intent to make fashion create and work better.

 

 

 

How Knot to be Cold

It’s just been super loco weather in London the past month. I mean we have had hail and snow, freezing temperatures, random bouts of sunshine and rain. Yes, okay rain no big surprise as it’s London…but the rest …no not cool! So with this unpredictable weather, we have found ourselves unable to put away the winter coat, or whip out the sandals. We had a phenomenal day recently, but I’m very weary and don’t want to be caught off guard with nothing to keep me warm. However, the only way to keep the hope of summer alive I believe is through scarves. Because they are extremely light weight, it’s the perfect accessory that can keep you warm, transform an outfit, and hide a hickey, or two (we don’t judge)! So I thought I would go to the queen of scarves (lucky me she is also my mother in law) to show me how to elegantly tie a scarf and face the dreary weather with bright confidence.

Fast Car Cowboy Inspired Scarf Style Natasha Taneka
Cowboy Knot

So the first style is inspired by Jonas Blues Featuring Dakota  music video of the remix of Tracy Chapman’s classic song Fast Car. It features a handsome cowboy rocking a great scarf so I asked my mother in law for help to recreate the look. I knew I was in safe hands and she would teach me the ins and outs of the art of scarf tying.  I went over to her house and she shared with me that it’s always been her thing, however when seeking inspiration she checks out blogger Mai Tai. So I did too and instantly saw for myself why she would.  The following styles have links to the tutorials we used from Mai Tai. I think we all should find a little more enjoyment in how we tie our scarves and be creative in what patterns and materials we use.  I love that scarves keep well, and can be also made from clothes that used to have a former life and possibly had different occupations (a dress perhaps). It’s a great way to experiment with your style and discover the bright side of scarves whilst keeping warm. With the help of Mai Tai Picture Blog and my mother in law’s exquisite sense of style…I’m ready to combat the grim weather in stunning fashion. Take that Weather!

Natasha Taneka Scarves are it
Asymmetrical Wrap 

 

Hermes London Natasha Taneka Blog

Natasha Taneka All Class with a well tied scarf
Criss Cross Knot 

Perfect print silk scarf from Hermès

Advice for Conscious Consumer doing Charity Challenges Right

Almost two years ago, I did something I never thought I would do, climb mountains. It’s just been a thing I heard some people do for fun. However, the opportunity appeared all of a sudden via work and most importantly it was to raise funds for a charity. I love love love new experiences and this Three Peaks challenge sounded pretty darn awesome!  Three peaks challenge is climbing the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales in 24 hours.
Natasha Game Face
The mountains are Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike, and Snowdon. I did it with work colleagues and we raised funds for the British Disabled Fencing Association “BDFA” whose aim is to make the sport of fencing accessible to anyone with a permanent disability. Their immediate dreams were to raise enough funds to go to RIO 2016 Paralympics and be able to keep the close quarter’s combative sport alive in Britain!
LOVE NATURE NT
 It was a great accomplishment raising funds through hosting pub quizzes, bake sales and personally completing two out of the three peaks. There was a lot of shopping in preparation, as I never had hiked before or done any tough endurance activities. Now looking back, these are the things I would like to share with everyday consumers planning to do a challenge like this consciously  and glamorously for charity.
Hair: Keep it simple with cornrows.  You do not want not one additional thing the faff about when you are mentally trying to push through intense pain. So it was two braided natural 4c hair. Its also picture ready, no wind can mess with my cute portrait in nature!
Dont act like you dont know
I wasn’t sure if hiking would be something i would do often, so I didn’t want to splash out. However as feet are what I was going to be relying on, I rightly decided to go with the best of the best.I didn’t know this, but there are 26 bones in one human foot and 19 muscles and tendons. In addition, apparently the great Renaissance artist Leonardo Da Vinci, the first individual to create accurate anatomical drawings of the foot, called them “a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.”
So I went for the best and got myself some North Face beautiful pink, purple and grey Gore-Tex hiker boots. Surprisingly, I used the when I go on walks in Hampstead Heath or paintball outings. Your feet need the support and protection, best purchase for the trip.  You can similar boots here.
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Jacket: At the time pink was a great idea. The colour was so loud, I knew that anyone could spot me out from space on any of the peaks…in case I got lost (or fall over whilst striking yoga poses on the highest peaks in the UK!). However day to day the colour is just too strong. I use it still but wish it was toned down or borrow someone’s or buy second hand.
Warrior Pink Princess Natasha Taneka

Gym clothes: nowadays are made to be comfortable and regulate body heat during intense activities. So my Lululemon top was a perfect addition to my outfit that came straight out of my closet.They are such good quality because they have travelled with me to three continents and are in mint condition. New addition to my closet were hiker comfy socks, although initially bought to avoid blisters and keep feet dry and warm. Now I wear them in winter all the time.  Love love love them. Definitely worth the investment! You can get similar tops here and hiker socks here.

Natasha the Conquerer
Slgihtly Scared looking at this view Natasha Taneka

 

As active wear can be super expensive and the production of clothing can pollute our environment, it’s good to be an informed consumer. I advise having a look into what the company stands for and their own corporate social responsibility policy. I didn’t, however afterwards I did, and was happy that some of the brands (North Face and Lululemon) I bought had great programs dedicated to responsible supply chains, and took seriously their roles as companies in our communities and publicly shared that information. Other brands information proved difficult for a consumer to find on their website.

View NT

Cant believe I did that NT

What is important if you are not that sporty and your doing this for charity is to not overspend, try borrow what you can, and think how whatever you are buying will be incorporated into your life afterwards. Most critical is safety, because when your safe is when the fun can begin. Be a conscious consumer by doing your best to invest in fashion companies that are doing their best to maintain nature’s environment, otherwise we won’t have places to go walking in style and comfort in the future. So do your research, ask sales assistants for advice, and oh ya train (it will make the physical challenge more enjoyable). Its great to raise awareness and funds for charities that put in the good work everyday for our community, but try to be mindful of the impact your fashion decisions have on the environment too.

two braids back best style for challenge

Mark Of Beauty: Makanaka Tuwe

So the internet can be super overwhelming, and sometimes I feel like it serves to distract me with shocking stories, pictures and meaningless updates. However, I am happy to say that it also opens up channels of communication and true connection with people a gazillion miles away. This is how I found Makanaka Tuwe via Facebook and Instagram. We hardly communicate in words, but more so in endless “like” support of each other shared posts. This was made easier because she is good friends with my friend, so I think that helped in her posts and face feature on my Facebook wall. Anyways, although I believe there is such a thing of oversharing, I cannot get enough of Makanaka’s updates. They are empowering and full of love and support.

Art makanaka

The way she chooses to live her life every day is inspiring and I asked her to share bit about them with fellow readers of the blog. She’s involved in various projects that aspire to strengthen and unite people from a grassroots level. In addition, she is an entrepreneur and pursuing a Master’s degree in International Communication at the same time. This young lady is a mark of beauty that relentlessly no matter how difficult, she authentically believes in change and continuously is committed to the journey within herself and for the community around her.

So I was curious, how does such spiritedness develop and why she chose to direct it towards community outreach?

Makanaka retro“I would attribute my interest in community outreach to many factors but the biggest influence would be my father. When I moved to New Zealand I was only ten years old and it was at that time that I realised that I was black. When I was in Zimbabwe, the community I was raised in was multicultural that I didn’t differentiate people by race or colour, people were just people. When I realised that I was black or when I was made to feel out of place because of my colour by other children, it was then that a lot of self-hate brewed. When you are ten and someone tells you that they don’t want to play with you because you are black, you don’t grasp the implications of such statements until you get older and you are in a state of reflection. The implications of such statements meant that I did not appreciate who I was instead I spent a lot of time trying to be everything that was not black or African.”

Makanaka Tree

Although school had a few painful memories, it would a book that would emanicipate her from self-hating learned behaviors.  ‘Things fall apart’ by Chinua Achebe was the book, given to her on her seventeenth birthday that her Dad gave her and it whole life changed. She goes on to say “As an avid reader, it was only right that a book changed my life and the way I viewed blackness and africanness. I realised that everything I had been taught in my history classes was flawed, why were we not taught about Mansa Musa, Yaa Asante Waa, and Queen Nzinga or about Kemet? Why was the history I was taught reflective of black people as slaves or individuals who were easily colonized in the pursuit to adjust and consume everything that is from the West? When I made this realization I vowed that I would dedicate my work to community outreach using the creative industries to educate myself and my people about our history, about who we are as heirs of kingdoms and as people who came from the Greats Ones who built the pyramids. There is no way I want my children to feel the way I was made to feel and I believe that through community outreach and the teaching of our roots, we are able to understand what it was we truly came from. When you know when you come from you have firm roots and a tree with firm roots can stand through the winds.”

Such a powerful and enlightening response, naturally led me to ask how people actually reacted when she decided her path and started walking the walk! For her, it came naturally like sadza nemurewo! See her upbringing was very conducive to this, as growing up she was surrounded by endless quotations from Martin Luther King Jnr, Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, Malcom X, Rosa Parks, Mbuya Nehanda and so many to mention. People weren’t surprised at all she adds, because her father is a human rights activist and his work, being and essence reflects that. She opens up saying she didn’t realize was in her quest to find herself, she already had a father who was doing community outreach work, who was fighting and advocating for different causes. She believes this is the reason her work feels so right and why being politically vocal comes as natural to her as breathing.  Makanaka

Although it came natural to her she highlights the importance of emotional well-being when intensely involved in social justice activism. I totally vibed with this because in a world with 24/7 news updates of crises around the world that we can’t change immediately, a narrative of helplessness and anxiety can quickly develop into pessimism, numbness and hopelessness. It can be really hard to maintain mental health, when you choose to dedicate your life to education and change.  I thought it critical to share the psychological war of the mind and heart has to be won every day, for activism in the world to sustain. So I asked her how she keeps motivated and deals with emotional roller coasters of community outreach.

Warrior Princess

Makanaka says

“In terms of motivation, I would say my spirituality keeps me motivated. For a couple of weeks and what seemed like months, my anger was towards the way in which the bodies of indigenous people continue to be brutalised and the fetishism surrounding our bodies. My anger was also towards the patriarchy system that governs the world we live in and shame women for almost everything that doesn’t serve it. It can be extremely painful and I remember sharing with a friend that this pain that I feel does not feel like it’s my pain, I am content and full of joy but in some moments I just want to crumble. Then after meditating on letting go, it hit me that the pain I have been feeling has been the anger I have been carrying, not only have I been interacting in debates against the above issues I have mentioned but the issues have consumed my personal life.”

Makanaka Shade

She began to observe her emotional behaviour, and found a pattern that whenever it came to the subject of indigenous bodies and women she would get so angry and the anger sometimes resulted in headaches and tears (most times a combination). However, she realised that being angry at what was happening was self-defeating. She decided it was vital to clear her heart and mind of that anger and channel its energy in a productive form in support of human rights. She reiterated that she was proposing we stop doing the work nor putting one’s heart less into it. She says “what I am saying is I will practice mindfulness as to not let what is happening consume my thoughts and behavioural patterns. I urge everyone to do the same, that in this fight against systems that do not serve us, we must remain strong and resilient and that begins with looking after our minds. In order to win this fight we must be mindful of our emotional and mental stability approaching everything with a sound mind.”

Zen conversations with Makanaka

So a lot of the projects she chooses to be involved in are super uplifting, educational, fun and supportive! So I asked her to share two, and how they all started.

“One of the most inspiring projects I worked on has to be the Kings  & Queens collection in collaboration with Bianca Paulus and Tarisa Tomu. I am not kidding when I say it all started on a hot summer’s day over a jug of sangria. We wanted to work together on some designs and after Bianca had finished the designs it hit us that this would be the perfect opportunity to tell a story as well as an educational experience using fashion. Through the Kings & Queens collection we wanted to educate about the history of Africa in a manner that is accessible and easily understood by all. We also wanted to set a standard that fashion is not just about clothing but can be fused with art and history to create a timeless experience. The collection took inspiration from the Kings and Queens of Africa, men and women who made a mark in African history and was designed to encourage discussion about an aspect of African history that most people, like we, as a team did not know about.”

She shares a second project she calls her slice of heaven ‘Sesa Mathlo’. What started as a blog to share her journey to a state of enlightenment has now become an avenue where she shares her photography, uncanny and unfiltered thoughts but also what keeps her going such as the teas she self blends or  the dream catchers she makes in her creative space. Apparently its humorous as she’s always been a bit on the clumsy, in fact breaking a lot of things (which her supportive brother can attest to!) but now handles a crotchet needle, the most delicate of fabrics, blend teas and puts together tiny charms to create earrings & neck pieces. Sesa Mathlo is what she refers to as what aided her coming into womanhood and the full acceptance of her soft magic.

Because a lot of her projects have her interacting with people and communicating online, unsavoury experiences on the internet come. So I asked her where she finds the courage to call people out on social networks. She responded by saying she wouldn’t call it calling people out, but that it is providing information based on facts to challenge their current thought pattern in the hopes that the truth will set them free. Her father’s favourite quote from Martin Luther King Jnr “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter is what gives her the courage to engage with people on social networks. She uses these guidelines to help:

  • Not letting emotions cloud the individual’s judgment or what one ends up saying. she always stick to factual information to the point where if need be she will refer whoever she am engaging with to a book, article, video or audio recording.
  • Never swear at anyone, there is nothing as distasteful as people calling each other names and becoming personal during a debate. It should never get to that ever and she disengages when someone swears or is disrespectful.
  • Remember J Cole’s line “don’t save her she don’t wanna be saved” and remember you have the option to disengage. She believes her role isn’t to force people to change or to accept my truth, her role is to share what she can share, correct what she can correct and live her truth. If someone disagrees or appears to be unwilling to be open to her truth then there is no need for further discussion.

Tattoo Makanaka

After such inspiring clear rules to guide and protect one’s mind and soul in the internet and outside world, I asked her what ways people specifically women of colour could celebrate themselves without being egoistical and offensive. She does a great job of this with her interpretation of a traditional concept wrapped in the new term Black Woman Magic:

“Do you boo boo! Do you so unapologetically that each moment you are living you are filled with joy and contentment because you are living life on your terms. In doing you, do it with self-love, there is no such thing as too much self-love. Do it with self-compassion and my mindful that there is a difference between doing you/loving yourself and being selfish. As women of colour we need to continue building the sisterhood and bringing down the forces of jealousy, gossip and negativity that keep us in bondage. Let us love ourselves and each other with the purity of a child. Let us build each other up and continue to wake up each morning spreading the majestic power that is black woman magic.”

Tribe Makanaka

With this wonderful insight, I wish nothing more than for everyone (myself included) to unapologetically be themselves. I think the spirit of Black woman magic can be found in many movements and isn’t limited by race, gender or sexual orientation. Makanaka’s work ethos serves to show everyone can reflect inside themselves what they think matters most and work peacefully and passionately towards it. Big thanks to Makanaka for sharing her time and advice with me! If you want to find out what other magical projects shes involved in go to Africa on my sleeve and join her journey of self-discovery at Sesa Mathlo