The fashion industry: how this industry can revive the Congolese economy.

The fashion industry: how this industry can revive the Congolese economy.

How many jobs do you think are in the fashion industry? I am sure the first ones that come to your mind are fashion designer, seamstress and fashion model. In the Congolese community, those are the most mainstream roles in the fashion industry. However, in fashion there are 100 of them, which include and are not limited to Marketing, Finance, Beauty and Operations. So if the question is can the fashion industry revive the Congolese economy? The Answer is yes, it can be one of the driving forces.

In 2015 Fashion was a $1.2 trillion global industry, which included luxury fashion, fast fashion and accessories (bags, jewellery, watches and shoes). Fashion and apparel industries employ 1.9 million people in the United States and the UK fashion industry is estimated to support 850,000 jobs. The number of people that work in this industry in Congo is unknown to me.

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So why and how are Congolese people so limited in their understanding of an industry they swear to love? If you do not understand what I am speaking of, I am speaking of Sapologie. A term engrained in the brain of every Congolese person regardless of whether they were born inside or outside of both countries respectively.

La Sape, an abbreviation based on the phrase Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (French; literally “Society of Ambiance-Makers and Elegant People”) and hinting to the French slang word sape which means “attire”, is a subculture centered on the cities of Kinshasa and Brazzaville in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of Congo respectively. An adherent of La Sape is known as a sapeur.[1] The movement embodies the elegance in style and manners of colonial predecessor dandies.

As Congolese people, we have created a subculture that has been features and respected by not only other African countries, but globally by the likes of African American singers Solange and Jidenna but also, the Chinese community who were heavily involved in Congolese music through Papa Wemba. So if our industry already has a name, already has an impact and is influencing people all across the globe, how are we not or rather how have we not developed a sustainable industry that can create thousands of jobs across both nations and fuel the passion of many artists in that industry?

The main reason is that fashion is not taken seriously, and like any other art, is dismissed over the likes of studies in business, medicine, education and engineering. However, there comes a time when thinking must change and new entrepreneurial ways must be accepted in order to see change.

Why develop Congo’s fashion industry?

The industry is set to double in value in the next 10 years to generate up to $5trillion annually. This presents a huge opportunity for business in Africa, as the combined value of apparel and footwear in sub-Saharan Africa was estimated at $31 billion in 2016.

The fashion industry holds amazing potential to motivate and bring change to some of the most vulnerable people, especially women and children, while advancing the structural transformation needed in the industry and in the country.

The role of creative industries in Congo Kinshasa and Brazzaville.

With 13 million young African joining the labour force on a yearly basis, the development of skill based industry, where people can learn on the job and gain qualifications in a labour intensive sector is imperative to for the stability of our nations. Fashion uses our culture and creativity as a selling point, which can be leveraged both within and outside of the continent.

What can we do to change this?

Investment, training and the industrialization of the industry. There are many more roles outside of being a seamstress in fashion, from textile designer to fashion forecaster, the roles are endless. Let’s broaden the minds of the people in the industry.

Africa currently accounts for just 1.9% of global manufacturing. That figure does not just relate to fashion. With having raw materials available, Congo should focus on moving to the top of the value chain and produce garments targeted at the home and international audience.

Strategic support and investment in local manufacturers should allow the Congolese fashion industry to steadily grow and become an entity of its own

 

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Congolese Excellence in the diaspora: The best of Congo Awards

Congolese Excellence in the diaspora: The best of Congo Awards

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Saturday 15th September, the biggest and most glamorous event took place in London within the Congolese community. Despite the fact that London Fashion Week was taking place, the event was full. I am pleased to share some of my favourite images of the red carpet.

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 ESIMBI in Kinshasa: how the charity is pushing for arts and culture in education.

 ESIMBI in Kinshasa: how the charity is pushing for arts and culture in education.

ESIMBI believes that there has never been a better time to instill the values of arts and culture in the lives of children and young adults. It is especially important now, as the education system in Congo is not doing significantly enough to develop the talents of the young Congolese population. The world is in a constant state of change; schools need new accountability measures and often struggle to reach the minimum requirements to educate their students.

For Congo to advance, we must do thing differently, financial and institutional capital have been the focal points of education and for addressing society’s challenges. Perhaps changing the way we look at things and take a more creative approach will most definitely have a different social impact. And, this is where the arts and culture are necessary in the Congolese curriculum.

 

 

Arts and culture nurtures and sparks the cognitive ability to imagine, and unleashes creativity and innovation, letting people think differently, develop differently and solve problems differently. Arts and culture is known to breaks barriers, connect people across cultural differences, and engage people who share the same values and skills. There is no investment that brings people closer together and moves people to action more than arts and culture.

The arts sector in Congo is very silent and invisible, so pushing schools away from arts subjects is the norm. There has also been relatively little public discussion of the way that arts and culture or creative learning might need to shift and change in order to play a role in the Congolese education system.

 

 

Article 31 of the UN Convention on the rights of the child states that– All children to be able to participate freely in cultural life and the arts – without providing ‘first access’ at the very least within the school system, how can a Congolese child, understand and develop artistically? The reality is, if the nurturing of arts and creativity is left to families and informal institutes, the Congolese arts and culture sector cannot and will not thrive.

What is ESIMBI doing?

Focusing our efforts on strategies that foster real collaboration—finding the best ways to leverage existing partnerships, work around them where they get in the way, and eliminate them when there is no growth or progress.

Identify the stakeholders who must join, support, and advocate for solutions—we must reach beyond the “choir” to find the right and best people that we can work with and advocate our cause.

We urge Congolese people and Congolese organisations to get out of their own way. Often we are too busy trying to rally people that we are not identifying any solutions (programs, structures, policies, practices, and financial models) that might be outside our comfort zone.

We learn from others and ourselves—a great deal of thinking and work goes into what we do and it shows in the results that we yield.

 

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We know and understand that it will be hard and will take a long-term commitment—this is a meticulous task. The political challenges, economic constraints, competing interests, priority gaps, and complexities are all real and significant challenges.

Ultimately, we must act now. Congo is unstable and has been for some time. We do not need or want to be another African study or statistic. Yet this is the time for substantial challenges that can lead to significant reforms and investments in Congo but only if we have a game changing approach which can transform the country.

Do you wonder what a 23 million Euros house in Spain looks like?

Do you wonder what a 23 million Euros house in Spain looks like?

I arrived at the airport of Marbella on a Sunny day and I could not wait to see these houses. My spanish is very basic but I could guess the words as they are very similar to French, which I speak fluently. It was very warm and only 11am.

A driver was organised to pick me up in a brand new Range Rover, my favourite car… and bring me to Los Monteros where my friend just bought a new villa. I was very excited about this travel as it was my first time. Marbella seemed like another version of Ibiza without the parties and massive crowd. I was not deceived. The drive to the villa was about 30 minutes and completely worth it. the ocean view made me wonder why I chose to live in London. I started thinking about how my life would be if I agreed to move with my ex to this sunny place.

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My friend’s house was a delight of modern architecture. Every detail and furniture looked like they were taken straight from a catalogue and arranged accordingly.

I was showed to my master bedroom, with an ensuite bathroom of course and all the toiletry you would expect in an hotel room. I was in heaven. The villas had a heated swimming pool, sauna, a cinema, a massage room and so much more.

My friend asked if I wouldn’t mind joining them for the visit of a house which just came on the market and may be a good investment for him. I said yes. I do not own a property, especially in the past 10 years living in London, and I didn’t make permanent plans. I feel like I didn’t know where I would end up. The real estate lady was supposed to be the best in town, catering for the rich and famous, she was tall and pretty. Another friend from Germany joined the venture. Tall and good looking too, he was also investing in properties globally. We drove together to this gated house. All the signs had angry dobermans on them to scare away thieves and intruders. To be honest, that scared me too.

From the outside, the house was like a museum and nothing like I visited before. I was curious to see the inside. As you can imagine, no photo were allowed but you can imagine what a 23 million Euros property has to offer.  It was splendid. The owner did the visit, from the bedrooms, to the studies, the walking wardrobes, the garden, tennis court, the nightclub and the view. We were there for 2 hours.

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When we left, I was thinking about what I would have to do to be able to afford a 23 million Euros luxury home, family home slash museum. Yes, I said museum as there was a couple of art pieces which were taller than the house in their own space.

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Unfortunately, my friend did not purchase it. What he failed to say was that he was building something similar to the white house which would be worth more than the treasure I just witnessed. The experience made me think of relocating and the reasons why so many people just go for it.

  • The sunny weather
  • The easy going lifestyle
  • The good and healthy food
  • The beach
  • and what seems to be, freedom of time.

Marbella was a delight. I stayed for the week and familiarised with the locals, took a lot of pictures and will surely go back in due time.

If you are also thinking of investing in a property abroad, knowing the market is not enough. My friend has a network of friends and colleagues he could trust for advice and this was very important for the process to go well. He took him a few month to properly settle in his current villa and decided to stay and invest in more properties.

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What is the best make-up look for black skins this summer?

What is the best make-up look for black skins this summer?

I was having an interesting conversation with a friend of mine who is a make-up artist. I really wanted to have her opinion on what the latest make-up trends are and here are the 4 options she gave me.

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ROSE-GOLD EYESHADOW AND ROSE LIPS

  • Apply an eyeshadow base with a neutral or soft pink tone
  • Use a soft burnt orange colour as a transition colour through the crease
  • Apply rose gold shimmer throughout the lid
  • Apply dark brown to the outer corner of the eyes to smoke it out
  • Apply black liquid or gel liner
  • Apply mascara to lashes and add strip lashes if you desire for this look
  • A bold pink lipstick or lipgloss

Classic red lip with black eyeliner

  • Apply a soft shade of pink or gold all over the lid
  • Create a sharp winged eyeliner with a blackest black liquid or gel liner.
  • Apply mascara to lashes and add strip lashes if you desire for this look
  • A bold red lipstick like MAC Lady Danger, Red Rock or Ruby Woo (discontinued)

 

COPPER SMOKY EYES AND MATTE berry LIPS

  • Layer bronze and copper shadows on top of a burnt orange wash all over the lid, and lower lash line.
  • Smoke the eyes with a black or brown pencil in the water line.
  • Add lashes and mascara for dramatic effect.
  • A berry lipstick like MAC media will work well with for this look.

SULTRY SMOKY EYES

  • pencilling around the eye with a black Kohl Eye Pencil in Stormy Grey to create a base
  • Blend out black base and set with black eyeshadow
  • adding depth by applying Kohl pencil along the waterline/rim.
  • Apply Mascara and lashes to add to dramatic effect
  • Keep skin and lips neutral, creating the perfect base for an edgy smoky eye. Skin can still be contoured but in a natural way.
  • A soft nude with a brown or peach hue to finish the look like MAC Strip Me Down or Velvet Teddy

Is Jnane Tamsna The hidden gem of Marrakech?

Is Jnane Tamsna The hidden gem of Marrakech?

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We booked our tickets as soon as the hotel confirmed this feature for the magazine ESIMBI. My photographer from Paris, Alena joined me to make this trip a time to remember, and it certainly was.

 

I was looking forward to going back to Marrakech after 4 years. The flight was pleasant and fast. Yes, I slept through it.  We landed on time and all I started to think about was if the hotel owner received my email about arranging the airport transfer, and she did.

Originally from Senegal and the French Caribbean, Meryanne Loum-Martin began her career in law in Paris. In 1985, she fell in love with the city of Marrakech, nicknamed the “red city” because of the color of its walls. She is not only stunning but also the most impressive woman I have met in a long time.

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The driver was there and very professional. The airport is really stunning. I remember the train station in Fez as being the most beautiful public place I have seen in Africa. The ceilings and the details of the architecture reflect the culture and the warmth of the people.

We arrived in the Palmeraie of Marrakech fairly fast, it was better than the images. Camels chilling in the heat is just a casual afternoon. I promised myself a picture with them.

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The boutique hotel has had many celebrity guests such as Brad Pitt, Giorgio Armani, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Mick Jagger and David Bowie, and here I arrived in these elegant and atypical villas.

I waited in the lounge whilst my room was being prepared. It was BIG!!! And the bathroom had a mirror who would make the every mirror jealous.

I jumped around with excitement and headed to my first lunch. Fresh food from the garden served in a luxury setting. It was delicious! I then walked around to take a few pictures whilst waiting for Alena who was landing from Paris a bit later.

 

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As soon as she arrived, we started checking out the different houses, swimming pools around the hotel. And it was no disappointment. The architecture was extraordinary with art pieces from around Africa. I am so happy to share these images with you and truly hope you will be inspired as we were if you can visit this hotel.

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We only stayed 4 days but really made the most of it. We also managed to take an afternoon off to visit the Yves Saint Laurent Museum and Majorelle gardens.

 

YOGA BY THE POOL

I took my first class in London but Yoga by the pool beats it! A relaxed atmosphere for you to find your inner self.

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THE GARDEN (one of them)

 

PRIVATE SWIMMING POOL

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My meeting with Meryanne about her hotel Jnane Tamsna allowed me to know moe about her source of inspiration and her daily life. I loved every moment and truly look forward to going back!

 

Is it necessary to check on your “strong friends” ?

Is it necessary to check on your “strong friends” ?
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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

The past months have been really hectic for many people I know. Some I used to call friends, some are just acquaintances, some are stories that were simply shared.

Truth be told, a few weeks back, I had plans with a friend outside London. I had to cancel the trip because I had some issues I wanted to deal with and didn’t quite want to talk to anyone. I spoke to my friend and simply said I could no longer make it. She replied that it was alright and she had other things she wanted to do that weekend.

On Monday, I stayed home all day as it was a bank holiday and I really needed to rest. A strange feeling took over me but I could not understand where it came from. In the evening, I sent a message to check on my friend and re-arrange a time to meet.

She didn’t reply. The next day still nothing. She then sent a message late afternoon on Tuesday to say that she quit on everything we were working on and just needed a break from everything. I was disappointed but after a stressful month, I just said ok. I then asked her to pass me over the things she was working on so I could find a replacement.

I could senses that she was hiding something. I guessed that something was wrong because she is not the quitting type, so I insisted. She started crying and said that she was at the hospital after she tried to commit suicide.

I cried. I was angry. I didn’t know what to say. She wanted to be left alone but I knew she  had a trip planned soon abroad so I thought at least she will be surrounded by family. So I gave her the space she wanted after saying that I was there for her if she needed.

This event really shook me as a week before the suicide of Avicii was all over the press. I decided to write this after I heard about the suicide of designer Kate Spade. We all live such busy lives, consumed by work, unnecessary commitment, keeping up with our social media appearances, and so on…  I felt like I needed to mourn a part of myself and think about what I was showing to the world.

As independant women, we always feel like we need to be strong, and be some kind of example to whomever is watching. This is also a choice. I now have chosen to be myself. To dealt with what is there and to focus on my own happiness. Many things sounds like cliche when you say them out loud. Being honest with yourself and accepting who you are is not easy. Expectations are truly what makes us miserable but how to stop being exigent with ourselves, our dreams, hopes, etc… ? Even if you stop reflecting on others because let’s be frank, that’s another lost cause.

I read that what makes human beings happy is progress. When things are happening the way we planned and we can see the results. Perseverance and the ability to think positive in times of crisis. But how do you prevent suicide, depression, anxiety, mental illness? All these tabou subjects no one wants to face or talk about. We all know someone who has been through something that drained their mind, their spirit and any sense of joy. The devil is a liar as Bishop T.D. Jakes would say. This is the sentence I tell myself now to get through the day.

As an entrepreneur, you can rarely predict what will happen so your entourage is very important. Keeping close to people who think on your level, people who understand your essence and why you work until 2 or 3am to achieve something which lives in your imagination. Life is not easy but it gets easier in time when you learn to focus on your purpose. My friend survived and still hasn’t spoken about what pushed her to the edge. But she claims that she knows what it is. It is a tricky situation and I did feel helpless. I had to accept her choice and just be the friend she needed.

Choosing our peace of mind is the best investment for your life. We are nothing without our health. Personally, I am learning to simply say No to things without feeling guilty. Anything that does not align with what I wish to do is removed from my life. I made a give up list to help and since ditching my television and newspapers that only highlights the bad in this world a few years ago, it has made a real difference.

I would love to hear your thoughts and if you have experienced anything similar. Please dont hesitate to write in private if you want to remain anonymous.