Made in Kenya Store

“Made in Kenya” design was a very different thing when I was growing up, a couple of decades ago. The creative industry consisted of great theatrical productions and not much else. African Heritage was the place to get beautiful African crafts but, very much of the aesthetic that you’d expect when you think of “African”.

Back then, there were very few possibilities in our imagination, when it came to having a career as a creative and being able to make a decent living off of it.

That’s a huge part why I started this blog: to showcase the diversity of creative possibilities for us – affirming people’s creative dreams and inspiring them to pursue them.

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A few of my favourite things: Kenyan design brands

Nairobi this past November was a feast for the eyes, thanks to some of my favourite Kenyan design brands! I participated in several fairs which, gave me the opportunity to check out the great work of my peers.

The photos below were taken at Biz Baz, XmasBoX, Spring Valley Bazaar and the Ichyulu Pop Up at Zen Garden. This list is by no-means exhaustive!

I’m participating in 2 more events this year: a special Christmas evening at Nook Cafe on Thursday (14th December) and Pop-Up & Chill Handmaker’s Market, this Sunday (17th December). Come through to hang out, discover some new brands, and get your last-minute Christmas gifts and treats! Continue reading “A few of my favourite things: Kenyan design brands”

Staying connected to home: bringing your heritage into your space and into your work

This post is sponsored by online money transfer service WorldRemit

Staying connected to home bringing your heritage into your space and into your work

It’s been over 15 years since I left the place that I still consider my home: Kenya. As much as I’ve appreciated my experiences of living in the US (New York) and in the UK (London and Manchester) – and especially all the people I’ve met, who’ve made my life so much richer – Kenya remains my home.

I periodically reflect on this notion of “home”. What is home? For some it’s where they come from and for others, it’s simply where they live, at the present time. For me, the whole idea is something far less tangible.

When I am at home, I feel it. It’s in how my body just seems to naturally relax, feels more vibrant and literally glows. It’s in the ease of interacting with people and being understood (and this is not even to do with language but rather, our shared cultural experiences and values). And of course, the joy and comfort of family, and people who have known you for what seems like forever.

While these aren’t things I can carry with me, each time I return to my London base, there are two particular ways in which I’ve managed to keep home very close: Continue reading “Staying connected to home: bringing your heritage into your space and into your work”

Goodbye Asilia: new business directions

This month marks 5 years of running my business. It's been a hell of a ride – high moments, challenging times and everything in between. All with a great business partner and an amazing team by my side. But now, it's time for a change …
A key part of the Asilia ethos has always been about following your heart and doing work you love. We’ve constantly strived to practice what we preach. That’s why we love working with other passionate people and why our self-directed projects are so important to us.
Over the past 5 years, these projects have evolved in different ways. Some have been more satisfying and successful than others – Afri-love, Afriapps and Black White Simple being the ones that have most resonated with the wider world.
Products of change
These projects, along with our experiences working with clients over the years, have taught us important lessons; opened up new opportunities we couldn’t have foreseen and; challenged and expanded our visions, when it comes to the contributions we want to bring to the world.
In being true to ourselves, our passions, our new circumstances and environments, we have decided on a new future for our professional paths.

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EVENT: Home Affairs – a Cross-Cultural Installation

NOW Gallery Home Affairs Exhibition London Africa




NOW Gallery will be celebrating London’s diverse creative landscape in a new cross-cultural installation, Home Affairs.

The exhibition is a collaboration between furniture designer Yinka Ilori, fashion designer Christine Mhando of London-based CHiCHiA and creative consultant Arieta Mujay. It features four theatrical, visually compelling conceptual spaces, brought to life with curated film, archival footage and performance. Framed by the language of traditional Nigerian & Swahili parables, the spaces will be filled with thought-provoking furniture, indigenous plants, designed objects, garments and wallpapers inspired by bespoke Khanga textiles. There will also be artwork by The installation will also be artwork by Jason Barka and Berjo Mouanga; a mural by myself, Lulu Kitololo; hand-carved wooden stools and bowls by artist Gary March and; on opening night, spoken word performances by the Bazaar Bohemian, of Project Tribe

Art director/brand consultant Ola Shobowale (aka @imustcreatenow) is also on-board, helping to bring it all together.

Dates: 20th August – 4th September 2015 
Venue: NOW Gallery, The Gateway Pavilions, Peninsula Square, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0SQ  


Join us this Thursday evening for the NOW Later opening night

You can expect: 

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My Women Change Africa Interview



I’m honoured to join the family of ‘Bosschiques’ over on Women Change Africa – a blog and brand founded on the theory that if women are celebrated, connected and cultivated, change will occur in our communities.

Women Change Africa founder, Moiyattu Banya had some great questions for me, providing an always welcome opportunity to pause, reflect and appreciate. 

Read the interview over on Women Change Africa. I love the last question and would love to hear how you’d answer it. Let me know in the comments below.

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Finding the right graphic designer for you – dos and don’ts

This post was originally written for Your Radiant Business – a blog created by my homeopath, Tracy Karkut-Law, and I, born out of our shared passion for the web and social media. On the blog we share everything we know about building a great online presence. It’s targeted towards homeopaths but a lot of the content is transferable for people building a business in other fields. This post fits that bill and I thought I’d repurpose it a little to share with you.


People are naturally very visual and, like it or not, many of us make judgements based on how something looks. ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is a common warning for a reason!

It’s important to think about whether your communication materials are aligned with the personality of your business, your values, what you want to be known for and how you want to make people feel. All of these things can be expressed through the design decisions you make, be it the colours and fonts you choose, the style of your imagery and how you put all of these elements together.

Let’s face it, this can be fiddly. And it’s hard to know if you’ve got it right. What might seem sufficient in your eyes, may not be effective in communicating your message to the world and, specifically, to your prospective clients/customers.

How can you create materials that let people know that you’re the right option for them (and keep your sanity at the same time)?

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In Pictures: The Road to Renegade (+ An Epic Giveaway)

Botanical Art Print Mini Creativity and Noise Lulu Kitololo


The Renegade Craft Fair London is 3 days away and Lusungu and I have been busy getting our ‘Fly South For Winter’ collection ready! It’s inspired by our motherland love and a yearning for the tropics in these wintry times. All the designs are hand-drawn by me and then hand screen printed by Lusungu (aka Creativity and Noise).


Fly South For Winter Creativity and Noise Lulu Kitololo squeegees

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African American English: Exploring Roots and Changing Perceptions with Typography

Today’s guest post is by Nuri Abdur-Rauf. USA native, Nuri, is interning with us at Asilia while she pursues an MA in Contemporary Typographic Media at the University of the Arts London College of Communication. We’ve been privy to what she’s working on for her final project – getting tidbits and sneak peeks of work in progress over lunch. I personally have learned a whole lot about African American English (AAE) and my own perceptions/preconceptions have been challenged! Here, Nuri shares a little bit of her fascinating topic. Enjoy!



There are about 5,000-7,000 recognized languages in use in the world today. The amount of dialects (versions of languages that are specific to a region or group) can't even be traced because of the vastness in variation that is related to factors like geographic location, education level, ethnicity and social status.  

I've always been fascinated by language and all that it embodies. This is why reading books are some of my first memories, why I couldn't be consoled after I got tripped up while spelling "carriage" in my 4th grade spelling bee and why I proofread for pleasure. I think it's also a big part of why I decided to get my Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Creative Writing and even though I'm working on my Master's right now in Graphic Design and Typography, the research I've decided to concentrate on deals squarely with linguistics and how people remix language to suit them.




What is AAE?

My research centers around African American English (AAE) – also known as Black English, African American Vernacular English and many other monikers – and how it can be represented typographically. African American English is what its name suggests – a dialect of English that is primarily spoken by African Americans. It includes its own set of grammar and pronunciation patterns, a huge vocabulary of words and terms, distinct tone and inflection styles as well as body language. To put it simply, it's a rich and complex way of speaking that reflects its speakers. It developed from our creation as a people nearly 400 years ago, out of the need and desire for those taken from different parts of the continent to find a common linguistic ground to tread on and communicate amongst themselves in the strange land they'd been forcefully brought to. It began as a means of survival and has endured to the present day, morphing and adapting to the changing times, still with the undertone of survival but also of expression, identity and tradition. 


Code switching

Growing up down south in the states, in Georgia and South Carolina, hearing and speaking AAE was natural to me. It was just as natural to learn that there were times to speak it (around close family and friends and in relaxed settings); times when you should switch to the more mainstream, accepted form of English (I revoke the term Standard English because I don't think such a thing exists, but that's a different blog post) and; times when your speech could fall somewhere in between. This practice is called code switching and is a fluid occurrence that almost every Black American person I know considers to be second nature. The ease of turning it on and off comes from conditioning and is a window into what being Black in America entails. Code switching is necessary because of the unsettled racial inequality that exists in the country. Those who can't successfully code switch may miss out on opportunities. Their voices are often marginalized, their character is often judged unfairly and incorrectly. This complicated relationship that America has with AAE is the basis for my research and I hope to unpack some of the misjudging by presenting this way of speaking visually and in a positive light.




Origins of AAE

There is intense academic debate over the true origins of AAE – whether it is an amalgamation of the many African languages that converged when slavery in the United States began, versus whether AAE is a byproduct of the various English dialects that slaves first heard spoken by the white British, Scottish and Irish indentured servants they labored with. Personally, I think it's all of the above and it's a waste of time to "pick a side." Nevertheless, it's ridiculous to believe that AAE doesn't have ties to the ample amount of languages across the diaspora.

During my research, I've come across the possible etymology of some of the words found in AAE's lexicon and their roots in the Wolof language of Senegal and Gambia (see illustrations above). While listening to a recording of a talk held at The British Library in 2010 on the language of hip hop, it was eye-opening to hear moderator MK Asante drop knowledge on these words – considered slang in mainstream America – and how they tie the African American experience to Africa (I could do an entire seperate project on AAE as it relates to hip hop music).

As I continue my research, I hope to uncover more connections. Information like this and the general discussion about this subject will hopefully help foster acceptance and begin to dissuade the isolation that AAE speakers experience by simply trying to communicate.

AAE is beautiful. Just as its speakers are, just as the struggles they triumph over are, just as their ancestral homeland is.




Get involved

Nuri is conducting a survey to gather opinions on AAE. It is open to all, from AAE speakers to those who are learning about it for the first time. Find it by clicking here. The survey is open until the end of August.

To follow along with Nuri's research, visit


All images designed by Nuri Abdur-Rauf



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Pins of the Week: Eclectic Global Boho Chic

1 Leonce-Raphael-Agbodjelou-Abacaxi-NYC-Collar-Top


That mouthful of a title summarises much of what visually turns me on. I think of an abundance of pattern, colour, prints – and wacky combinations of all three! Despite the diversity of traditions and design output, I think it's interesting to note the similarities when you look at Africa, Asia and Latin America. Similarities in feel and creative energy – i.e. something rather intangible – perhaps, more than anything else.


2 Abacaxi NYC Skirt




6 African-Print-Jekkah-Mens-Shirt-Asos-Africa-Kanga-Top-Trousers


Follow me on Pinterest for more eclectic global boho chic.


Pins – left-right, from top: Photo by Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou; fashion from Abacaxi NYC; skirt from Abacaxi NYC; stylish dudes; prints galore; backpack; chairs; men's top from Jekkah; Asos Africa outfit.



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