9 years ago tomorrow, I published my first post on a new blog I named Afri-love. I had thoughts and theories I wanted to explore; discoveries I wanted to share; inspiration I wanted to pass on; and community I wanted to find.
I didn’t know it at the time but, my humble blog was about to be the most powerful vehicle for me to find my voice, to realise my purpose and to build some incredible relationships along the way.
If you’ve been reading for a while, you know I love creating lists of 9. Therefore, it’s thus fitting to share one with you, celebrating this 9th anniversary of what has become so much more than just a blog!
9 years of the Afri-love blog
I want to thank you for reading this because having an enthusiastic, engaged audience has kept me going when energy and motivation have been low and workload high. Our interactions have helped to inform the content, resources and experiences I create. I’m grateful to you for how your presence has stretched me and enriched my life.
8th of June
Clearly I have some cosmic connection to this date. Not only was it the date I started this blog (and there was no particular design to this, it just happened to be the date when what I wanted to be ready was ready), it’s also the date that my son, Laoleko, was born – seven years later! Again, this event was not consciously determined by me :).
7 months since the first Afri-love Fest
From the beginning, I knew that I wanted Afri-love to somehow live in the real world. I didn’t know exactly what form that would take but, I knew I wanted to facilitate some sort of “projects.” Fast-forward 8 years and one of those projects moved from being something I wanted to do someday to something I DECIDED to do now.
Afri-love Fest combines a market of eclectic design – spanning home, fashion and more – with a programme of creative workshops, talks and other interactive sessions. All in the name of celebrating creativity.
We held the first festival in November 2018 and welcomed almost 700 people! As complete novices in event planning – we were overwhelmed by this positive response. It was testament to the power of being true to yourself, doing things with love and connecting with your tribe.
We have since held a second festival, in May, and we plan to hold a third, this November.
Marketing Afri-love Fest has been one of my favourite activities. You can check out the many illustrations I’ve created for it, on Instagram.
6 main themes
There are six themes that have guided the exploration that Afri-love is:
- Business – practical tips and tools: to empower you to express what you have to offer in an authentic and remarkable way; to reach the audiences who want to hear from you; to make a living doing what you love.
- Buy African – to promote creatives and creative brands, so that we can support each other’s growth.
- Creativity – curating exciting examples of African and diaspora creativity, to feed our imagination and excitement.
- Interviews – sharing the stories of the people behind them, to keep us inspired and encouraged.
- Lifestyle – mostly anecdotes and snapshots from my own life, as I work on designing the life I want to live. Also, some escapist inspiration, so that we may continue to dream.
- Wellness — sharing ideas for taking care of ourselves, because, without good health, nothing else is possible.
5 reasons why design matters: An argument for African parents, businesses & other skeptics
Creativity can change the world and it is my mission in life to contribute to this in the ways that I’m best placed to.
I come from a time and place where creativity has been, at the same time, so rich and under-appreciated. I look forward to a time, in this place, where the power of creativity is being harnessed everywhere, at every level. From individuals finding small ways to live more creatively to governments commissioning creatives to help them make better decisions for how we all live :). And everything in between.
A few years ago I wrote a post sharing just 5 reasons why design matters…
4 strategies for more productivity (and joy)
The past 9 years have been a great journey of self-growth, especially as I left employment, the year before I started Afri-love. Over the years I have shared a lot of my personal experiments and learning on the blog.
I do a lot – providing creative services to clients; producing a line of stationery and lifestyle products; running an online branding course; organising a festival; running an online community for creative African women (see more below); co-running a club for female founders (also see more below); creating useful content for my email list, this blog and Instagram.
It’s a lot (hides face)! But as an ideas person, negotiating several different activities is part of what makes me tick.
I’m constantly reflecting on and experimenting with how I can be more efficient and balanced. Here’s my latest take on how to achieve high productivity and experience more joy.
3 major UK venues where I got to talk about Afri-love related things
The blog has been not only a great platform for me to connect with like-minded people around the world but, also an opportunity to contribute my voice and my perspective in all kinds of forums.
While living in London, I was invited to participate in panel discussions at some noteworthy establishments including: Oxford University, Southbank Centre and the V&A Museum. Here’s some of the other action that I/Afri-love has gotten.
2 years of Afri-love Women
While heavily pregnant and finding it difficult to sleep, I had some of the most productive insomnia of my life!
It’s during this time that Afri-love Women was born: an online community for creative African women, who care as much about self-care as they do about professional excellence. It was an outlet for me to connect with amazing ladies who I had things in common with and for us to feel safe engaging in real talk.
It soon took on a life of its own and we are now more than 600-strong! I’ve been so enriched by the women in the group. I’ve learned from them; been inspired by them; been supported and encouraged by them. I’ve made new friendships and grown existing ones.
Afri-love Women is one of my favourite places to go to. There’s always something affirming, interesting and wonderful being shared. You can join in too.
1 year of the Afri-love Connection Club
Previously I’d cringe at just the idea of networking because of my very narrow experience of what it was.
In these 9 years of Afri-love, and in large part thanks to this platform, I’ve come to appreciate that there are so many ways to network – ways that feel more natural and are more fulfilling to me. I wrote a post about some of these ways, a few years ago.
When I moved back to Kenya, I really missed the community I’d found in my mastermind group and in the women in business club I belonged to. My friend, Danielle Anderson, moved to Nairobi around the same time as me and, she missed these things too. We’d worked together before and enjoyed the experience so, we started to explore how we might collaborate again.
That’s how, a little over a year ago, the Afri-love Connection Club was born: a place where female founders come together to transform their businesses, and their lives.
Danielle’s business strategy expertise combined with my branding and marketing expertise – and our shared values, interests and passions – enables us to bring a lot to supporting other women in their business journeys.
We also appreciate that there are other aspects of a businesswoman’s life that are important to her so, we’re big on honouring these things and championing self-care.
Over the past year we have welcomed 77 members and 146 additional women have taken part in our workshops and self-care events.
We’re actually celebrating the club’s one year anniversary with two special events this month – one in Nairobi on Wednesday 19th June and one in Mombasa on Saturday 29th June. Come learn, network and party with us!
I’d love to hear from you
How did you came across Afri-love and what has resonated with you most?
Please share in the comments below.