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Nigeria

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For our #WomenWorldwide series, we’ve gone out on the road to find the most innovative and inspiring entrepreneurs we can from every corner of the globe. Today’s interviewee, Zainab Akingbehin, is an interior designer at Oeuvre Designs, based in the heart of the bustling city of Lagos, Nigeria.

HOC: Great to meet you Zainab! Let’s start with the tricky stuff! What’s your elevator pitch for Oeuvre Designs?
Zainab: Oeuvre Designs is an interior design studio based in Lagos Nigeria, we specialise in bespoke designs with the client’s personality and functionality being key to our designs.

HOC: Your work is beautiful! Tell us about your journey to running this business?

Zainab: Oeuvre designs started in 2016 with as little as nothing! It’s been quite an interesting journey though, of course there have been some learnings also on this journey, and hasn’t always been a smooth ride, but the determination has been strong.
When we launched the first question was, where do we get clients from and how? But we came up with our first furniture design “Hexa Stool” and everything went from there and brought us to into limelight. I guess that’s how we started!

HOC: You are based in Lagos which is known globally for being a hub of design, what’s it like running your business there?

Zainab: Trust me, Lagos is one of those tough places to get anything done on a daily basis. The hustle and bustle is real and the design process isn’t a smooth one here, getting things done in time is quite challenging and there are limitations too as we
almost never have the right places to source for things. But, hey, we are strong people here and the passion drives us so we never get tired of the challenges!

HOC: How do you balance these varying demands on your time-being creative and running the business side of things?

Zainab: As a creative designer and a business owner in today’s industry you often have to wear multiple hats. It’s a juggling act and not always easy to get the balance right. I don’t think there is ever a perfect balance though because there is a guilt either way.

I’m a perfectionist and the reality of being a creative designer and a business owner is that something always have to give which doesn’t sit well with me. But with the support I get from my team at work allows me to shuffle both.

HOC: Who would be your ideal client?

Zainab: Definitely clients that love good finish and clean lines; clients that have creative personality and also the support co-creation process.

HOC: Why, in your opinion, is good design so important?

Zainab: Good design is important due to the aesthetic value it possess in a given space. The fact is having an interior design that looks nice and beautiful will make you like your home even more. Also, good design means functionality because it
affects your quality of life. In your home, people live in such a way that they interact with their environment on a daily basis. Trust me, if a design does not work for you it’s most likely to frustrate you more than making you happy!

HOC: For our creative readers, what advice would you have for them to grow their artist practices and get their work seen?

Zainab: Firstly, self-confidence is very important. For instance, a stranger asks what do you do, and your response is not portraying any aura of confidence, then you are not doing a good job being a creative artist and selling yourself. No matter how
amazing your work is, if you are not confident enough in your work then it’s going to take series of miracle for anyone to see and appreciate your work!

Secondly know your value. One man’s paint splatter is another man’s masterpiece. So when you are trying to decide how much to charge for your work you need to take a lot of things into account like the time and cost of your supplies.

Thirdly consider the factors in the intangibles of your work that gives it value.

HOC: What piece that you’ve created means the most to you and why?

Zainab: Definitely my “Hexa Stool” : it was the start of my furniture design and it brought me into limelight so it means the most to me.

HOC: Where do you get your inspiration from?

Zainab: I get inspiration everywhere, from nature, my environment, architecture, sometimes in books and design blogs. Also by surrounding myself with positive minded people.

HOC: If you ever have a creative block / funk; how do you get yourself out of it?

Zainab: Most times I just take 2 days off work and it helps a lot. I always have in mind the idea of finishing what you’ve started because the creative part is in seeing it through to the end and turning that dream into reality! I can also be spontaneous in nature; some of our designs are done lastminute and that is the fun part of being a designer.

Check out Zainab’s work at Oeuvre Designs at OeuvreDesigns.co

Follow along at @Oeuvre_Designs

Fascinated by nature, Kellie founded her jewellery brand Salome, in memory of her beloved mother. With her timeless pieces and love of nature, this is a brand that will live through many cycles of life. Here at House of Coco, we encourage women to feel empowered and beautiful and owning a piece of Salome will do just that.

We spent some time with Kellie to find out more…

Tell us about the journey that lead you to launching your brand, Salome Designs…

I moved from New Orleans in 2012 with my British husband & three little girls to the UK and it took the Home Office almost 2 years to finalise my paperwork. Having had a career in PR, I worked at the Guggenheim initially then I was a PR director for an agency in New Orleans, I started to think about building a brand around my passion for jewellery making. It took years of planning and prep work, but then once we launched at Wolf & Badger things very quickly took off from there and before we knew it we were in store on Bond Street at Fenwick. It has been an absolute dream come true & having named the brand after my late mother, Salome, everyday is a glorious tribute to her memory and love.

Your brand is heavily focused on natural gemstones, why is this important to you?

I’m in love and totally fascinated with nature and all things natural. It was important for me to bring this into the brand in a very authentic and sustainable way. These gemstones are not just beautiful but also powerful and I want the wearer to feel empowered & uplifted and to go out in the world more energized, inspired, and full of confidence. I also wanted to promote a deeper connection to the earth and an appreciation for all the beauty and creatures on our beautiful planet. We are very proud Brand Ambassadors for the Cross River Gorilla Project (CRGP) and support their initiatives to save the critically endangered Cross River Gorillas and preserve the rainforest habitat for this incredible animal. Together with their Patron Amelia Windsor, we are launching a membership program ‘The Gorilla Gang’ to aid in their fight to save the remaining 300 Cross River Gorillas from extinction. This program will also be available to purchase as a gift for the holidays and makes a wonderful & meaningful gift to any eco-warrior or budding conservationist.

Since launching the brand, are there any decisions you have made that you later went on to regret? Not one, I said yes to everything initially and even though it may have been a stretch or incredibly hard work; all of the connections linked to something down the line that really worked for the brand and helped us to grow.

How do you want women to feel when wearing your designs?

Like a Goddess (Beyonce, Mata Hari, Stevie Nicks, and a Pre Raphaelite muse all rolled into one!) I want them to feel beautiful, empowered, sexy, confident, and connected to the world around them.

As a New Orleans Native, how did your path bring you to the UK?

My husband is British and so is my Grandmother, she was from Evesham and married my American Grandfather in the UK during WWII – with my Dad being British I’ve always felt connected to the England and to my family here in the UK.

Where do you call home?

Wherever my husband and beautiful three little girls are is home! I very much call the Northeast home, but South Louisiana has shaped the person I am today and will always have a place in my heart.

If you had to describe your brand in three words, what would they be?

Handcrafted, magic, gemstones

What advice would you offer to anyone wanting to launch a business in the world of jewellery?

I think the thing that helped me the most was my background in PR. I’m an industry expert for Newcastle Universities in corporate communications and certainly finding a course with CIPR in strategic planning or brand management would be highly beneficial. The best advice is to be authentic and let your passion and your love for jewellery be your guide.

How would you describe your personal style?

Post covid- still very bra-less & barefoot I’m afraid!

But seriously, I’m American so we tend to have this strange ability to do both glamour & street style very well. I also love a bit of 70’s and anything with fringe!!

Talk us through an average day in your life…

Mornings are dominated by school runs and then around 9:30 I start my working day with industry news and catching up with email. Team meetings start at 10am and usually take us to lunch then spend the remaining part of my day working with production and sales and finish around 6ish.

How much has social media played a role in the success of your brand?

Social Media has actually played a vital role in the initial success of the brand, it connected us to other businesses and helped with networking and brand awareness. It is still a key component, but things are constantly shifting, and we have to always assess the role and impact various platforms have on both our brand awareness and sales.

Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?

I adore Italy!! Its my go to happy place, I love the food, the people, and the sea so much. My husband, Jonathon, is an architect and lived in Florence so it always helps to have him around curbing my American tourist instincts and making me slow down and enjoy the lifestyle like an Italian.

What is your go-to quote when lacking motivation?

Just keep moving forward (my father-in-law says this all the time and it works for pretty much any situation)

What’s next for you and the brand?

Lots of exciting collaborations, new collections, and tons of new locations

What does self care mean to you?

Having a slow day (and watching a good period drama or documentary).

Where can people find out more?

www.salomedesigns.co.uk we have an amazing collection of natural stone jewellery and are launching our newest collection launch this autumn called (drum roll)… The Three Graces.

Find out more about the inspiration for The Three Graces Collection and get exclusive discount codes by signing up for our newsletter on the website. Get inside scoop on upcoming events and promos, background, and history of the gemstones, and all the details on inspiration and design.

Most authors can trace back the source of their writing passion to a very special moment or person from their youth, and according Dr. Bunmi Oyinsan, world-renowned author and African culture thought-leader, her impressive body of work was inspired by the female heroines of her maternal grandmother’s stories.

“My grandmother’s stories always depicted women as strong and valiant, and she also told stories about Dahomean women warriors,” Dr. Bunmi said. “Most of the literature I was made to read in school were by men and I found the women in these narratives were quite different from those in my grandmother told. So, I was eager to write stories that would celebrate the powerful and inspiring women from my grandmother’s tales.”

Trying to close the cognitive dissonance between the heroines of her grandmother’s tales to the often invisible women of the African literature she was surrounded with, Dr. Bunmi set out to write about real and inspiring African heroines. “Most of my works have developed in response not only to the flat, negative, and often invisible portrayal of African women in some novels but also as a result of the recognition that ours is still predominantly oral culture… In addition to being inspired by works of other women writers, I situate myself firmly within the traditions of women story tellers.”

We sat down with Dr. Bunmi Oyinsan to discuss her literary roots, the importance of placing women at the centre of story-telling, and her latest book ‘Three Women.’ Commenting on her latest novel, Dr. Bunmi says, “My novel Three Women has been about claiming a voice or voices for women as the case may be, by creating female characters from a woman’s perspective… I also believe that it is important to show women not only as victims, but as active determinants of the course of their lives as well as active elements in their communities.”

We also talk about her philanthropic work with ‘Lekki Affordable Schools’ in Nigeria, how the concept of ‘Sankofa’ informs her writing and why celebrating African voices amid the context of the Black Lives Matter movement, is more important than ever.

“It is as important now as it has always been for African stories to be told by African voices. If the global Black Lives Matter Movement has taught us anything, it is the fact that racism is a global pandemic,” Bunmi says. “At any given time, there seems to be only room for a few writers of colour and the big prizes and publishers who are not people of colour are the ones who determine whose voices get heard. We need to change this.”

Dr. Bunmi Oyinsan

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

I was born in Lagos but spent my formative years in Port Harcourt. I started my post-secondary education in the UK and then studied for my masters and doctorate in Canada, where I now live. I started writing as a teenager. I was inspired by the stories that my maternal grandmother told me when I was growing up. Sometimes she told traditional stories, but she also made up her own stories to keep me entertained.

Her stories always depicted women as strong and valiant (her family had migrated to Lagos from Dahomey, now Republic of Benin) and she also told stories about Dahomean women warriors. Sometimes her stories were about real women, her contemporaries like Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti and Sisi Obasa (Mrs. Charlotte Obasa) to name a few. Unfortunately, most of the literature I was made to read in school were by men and I found the women in these narratives were quite different from the women in the stories my grandmother told me. So, I was eager to write stories that would celebrate the powerful and inspiring women from my grandmother’s stories.

What inspired you to seek out your current career path and eventually become a thought-leader for African culture?

I started the Sankofa Pan African Series because I’ve always loved history. I have many fond memories from my earliest history lessons about the great African civilizations and historical figures, like Mansa Musa, Emmanuel Aggreh, Jaja of Opobo, Nana of Itsekiri to mention just a few.

Although, I must confess that because my maternal grandmother who as I said earlier regaled me with stories about women, I quickly figured out that the history I was being taught at school was incomplete because there were hardly any women in them!

This foundation made me question, even more, the history I was taught in secondary school, which while purporting to be world history was mostly European history. My children’s generation was worse off because they were not taught African history in primary school like I was, despite the fact that they attended primary school in Nigeria. Another reason why I started the Sankofa Pan African Series is because it is, of course, important for the future of Africans and Africans in diaspora to have as many voices emphasizing the fact that civilization did not originate in European countries as most of the history books out there try to lead us to believe. Neither does civilization end in the countries that now represent the so-called developed world.

Tell us more about your latest book for adults ‘Three Women’ as well as your latest children’s books?

Three Women is my latest novel for adults. I have, since the release of Three Women, published four illustrated children’s story books. These children’s illustrated books come in two different series: The Legends of Africa Series, which introduces children to the stories of noteworthy Africans and people of African descent who have made a significant impact in the world. Currently, the series has two books: Mansa Musa: The Richest Man Who Ever Lived and Phillis Wheatley: The Girl Who Wrote Her Way to Freedom.

The Second Series is the Adventures of Anansi And Sewa. The first book in that series is Rainy Day and the second one is The Missing Black Panther. With the Anansi and Sewa Series, I am introducing the beloved trickster figure in many African and Caribbean stories, Anansi to children of this age who might not necessarily find a lot in common with the traditional folktales that my generation and others grew up with. So, the Anansi in my stories is a young Spider boy who sometimes gets into scraps with his sister Sewa. We see them as anthropomorphised creatures interacting with other members of the Spider family.

What is Three Women all about? How has your own personal history influenced your writing?

My work for adults, including my novel Three Women, is about claiming a voice or voices for women as the case may be, by creating female characters from a woman’s perspective. Most of my books, stage plays, and films have had female protagonists. I have found myself reacting to orature because of the role which story-telling played in my choice of vocation. In addition to being inspired by works of other women writers, I situate myself firmly within the traditions of women story tellers.

Most of my works have developed in response not only to the flat, negative, and often invisible portrayal of African women in some novels but also as a result of the recognition that ours is still predominantly oral culture. Although the temptation initially was to create only ‘perfect’ characters, I have tried to acknowledge — where a female character has flaws — that I focus on the causes of such flaws rather than to propagate the assumption that women are naturally weak, evil or devious. I also believe that it is important to show women not only as victims, but as active determinants of the course of their lives as well as active elements in their communities.

My interest in orature is also illustrated by the fact that when I sit down to write, I find myself responding to several stimuli. Sometimes it is the lyrics of a song, a particular proverb, the strands of a conversation I have heard somewhere, something I read or saw in a stage play or on the television which plays at the back of my mind. It was also in a bid to interact with the various elements with which I was determined to create a dialogue that I ventured into film-making.

Your prolific literary works have helped put African stories on a global stage. In your opinion, how important is it that African voices be heard in the context of 2021?

It is as important now as it has always been for African stories to be told by African voices. If the global Black Lives Matter Movement has taught us anything, it is the fact that racism is a global pandemic. Its manifestation might be different, but it is not restricted to the borders of individual countries. Racism is at the bottom of the way in which a continent as rich as Africa is, is also the poorest continent. Yes, most African leaders are corrupt, but corruption is not the only culprit responsible for the situation of Africa.

What is responsible for the warped global economic structure which ensures that African countries are not in control of their natural resources? African farmers can continue to slave from now till kingdom come and if they cannot determine the prices of their produce, they will remain poor. African voices must continue to be raised in any way Africans can to denounce the continued pillaging of the continent and the continued oppression of people of African descent all over the world.

Your written works are known to embrace the concept of ‘Sankofa’ could you tell us more about this?

The word Sankofa comes from Ghana. An Adinkra symbol for Sankofa represents it as a mythical bird flying forward with its head turned backwards. For many years, I used to wear a bronze bracelet with this symbol on it. The bird depicted in my bracelet had an egg in its mouth which I was told represents gems of knowledge available in the past. The bird on my bracelet held an egg in its beak and was poised as if ready to take flight forward. I know that there could be several interpretations for this, but my favourite is that the bird takes from the past useful knowledge which helps it to build a positive present thereby laying a solid foundation for future generations.

In the same vein, I believe that by knowing our history, we will know how we got to where we are today and be better positioned to structure our present and a future for generations of Africans in the diaspora. As such, the Sankofa Pan African Series explores African experiences and the realities of a global relationship from a variety of viewpoints. We look at transnational territories – and possible territory that might exist for a new generation of Africans and Africans in diaspora.

Outside of your work as an author, you have also dedicated your life to supporting a number of non-profit organisations with a special focus on those that support children’s rights, women’s rights and economic empowerment. Tell us more about your philanthropic work. Could you elaborate on what has been the most fulfilling milestone so far?

I am really pleased with the modest contribution that I have made towards Nigerian education through our schools. I co-founded Lekki Peninsula College in Lagos, after Maroko was demolished under a military government. I had no interest of running a school, but I saw too many teenagers who had dropped out of the system, who I knew would have a brighter future if only they had the opportunity to get a proper education. We set up the Lekki Peninsula Nursery and Primary School a sister school when we realised that we were doing too much remedial work with students that were going into the secondary school. We wanted to intervene earlier. Collectively, the two schools are known in the Lekki area as Lekki Affordable Schools. We also set up Equality Through Education Foundation (ETEF) to raise scholarships and other kinds of support for children and youths.

As a woman of colour, what has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your career?

As a woman of colour and as an author, the greatest challenge has been contending with the issue of access to publication. Very few publishers and even literary agents are interested in taking on writers of colour especially women. The problem with accessing publication is no different to the challenges that actors and other artists of colour face. At any given time, there seems to be only room for a few writers of colour and the big prizes and publishers who are not people of colour are the ones who determine whose voices get heard. We need to change this.

Dr. Bunmi Oyinsan

Rice is a culinary staple in many countries. These seemingly simple and flavourless grains are a blank canvas for imaginative foodies and gastronomic adventurers. While they are easy to prepare, there are thousands, or probably millions, of ways to cook it. And it would be fascinating to see how other countries do it.

From farmers who prepare the bedding with disc harrow parts to the chefs and home cooks, these grains will always easily blend with any recipe. Beyond risottos and burritos, here are the other rice dishes you may want to try.

Paella from SpainSpain’s Valencia region is proud of its paella. It is among the icons that identify the location. This dish is packed with flavours and filled with colours. Legit paellas are cooked in olive oil, and they usually use white rice (the round grain variety). It is then seasoned with saffron and rosemary. Proteins are primarily sourced from chicken; other variations may use seafood and snails.

Nasi Goreng from Indonesia

China may be popular with its fried rice, but another variety exists in Indonesia. Nasi Goreng seems simple, but it is exquisitely delicious and filling. In this dish, rice is stir-fried with chicken slices, prawns, shallots, garlic, and sweet soy sauce. Sometimes, it is mixed with chili and tamarind. Nasi Goreng usually has a fried egg on top.

Champorado from the Philippines

Perhaps, this is the only sweet rice dish on this list. Champorado, which is often served as breakfast, also doubles as a snack. It is made by boiling sticky rice with cocoa powder or tablea (chocolate tablets). Once cooked, it can be topped with powdered milk or evaporated milk. When eaten as breakfast, people enjoy it with dried fish. The contrasting flavours of the two make an interesting experience.

Biryani from India

Biryani can be found in many parts of the world, from the USA to Brunei. But this rice dish remains an Indian icon. Wherever you are, Biryani seems to be cooked just the same. It is made with chicken or lamb, which is marinated overnight, and is cooked with herbs, spices, dried fruits, and yogurt. Just a whiff of the concoction will surely make you want to wolf down a plate.

Bibimbap from South Korea

Once a dish made for the ancient Korean royalty, bibimbap is not just a festival of flavours but also of colours. This dish is simple to make, and it looks pretty and delicious when being served. The steamed rice will just be topped with sauteed vegetables (depending on the season), beef, egg, and chili paste. You will have to mix them before you eat the dish.

Jollof from Nigeria

Rice is also a staple in many African countries, so you will always find exciting fares here. One of them will be the jollof, which originates from Nigeria. It is also found all over West Africa. In this dish, rice is cooked in tomato sauce, together with onions, salt, and pepper. Meats are usually lamb or chicken.

Eat up!

Rice is an essential grain, and it is also a base for many culinary masterpieces. If you are interested in cooking with rice, go beyond the usual and try the exciting dishes enumerated above.

There are few regions in the world that can boast the astonishing cultural, culinary, natural, musical, and urban diversity of West Africa. While the travel hotspots of South Africa tend to get the most attention, West Africa is rising fast on travellers’ radars. The region represents the cornucopia of unforgettable experiences that Africa has to offer. From tropical rainforests, otherworldly deserts, volcanic outcrops, and sprawling, vibrant megacities, a West African itinerary leaves you truly spoiled for choice.

While this vast region is too rich to cover in this one piece, we thought it would be useful to provide those who are new to West Africa with a beginner’s itinerary that allows you to absorb the essence of the region. If you’re sitting at home and looking to plan your dream itinerary for when it’s time to travel again, here is why you should be making West Africa your next destination.

1. Start With a Sensory Overload in Nigeria

Where better place to start your West African odyssey than Nigeria, the continent’s fastest-growing country and premier cultural powerhouse. Begin your trip in the country’s sprawling, riotous commercial capital, Lagos, home to 21 million people and counting. While your first experience of the city may be challenging, your perseverance will be richly rewarded.

This city is one of the most liberal and energetic on the continent, which is reflected in the booming nightlife. As well as the classical streetside bar experience that can be had in every corner of the city, Lagos is one of the few places in Africa with a thriving casino scene, and a game at the roulette table is always a memorable experience.

Interestingly, Nigeria is one of the only places in Africa which also has also fully legalised online casino gaming, meaning that visitors can take advantage of the best online casinos on the continent. Once you’ve been thoroughly partied out by Lagos, make sure to book a couple of days in the serene colonial port town of Calabar for some R&R.

2. Nature and Tradition Meet in Cameroon

After the dizzying sensory overload of Nigeria, head to its southern neighbour, Cameroon, for a more relaxing change of pace. Here you will find rich tradition and jaw-dropping nature in equal abundance. Get the lowdown by starting your journey in Douala, the largest city, and home to some of the most noteworthy museums and historical institutions in the region.

The Musee de Douala, Douala Maritime Museum, and Doual’art can easily fill a whole afternoon, which you won’t regret. Once you’re sufficiently clued up on Cameroonian history, take a bus to volcanic Mt Cameroon, the tallest mountain in Western and Central Africa and home to a huge number of indigenous plant and animal species. When you’re not exploring the mountain and its surroundings, rejuvenate at the nearby Hotel Seme Beach Resort and Spa.

3. Eco-Friendly Beach-Hopping in São Tomé & Príncipe

After trekking through Cameroon, it’s time to hop aboard a tiny plane and jet off to the small island nation of São Tomé & Príncipe. Many travel writers have described this compact country as one of the closest incarnations of paradise on Earth they have seen, and it’s not hard to see why.

São Tomé & Príncipe has positioned itself as one of the world’s leading eco-tourism hotspots in recent years, offering unbeatable and sustainable experiences such as swimming with turtles on Praia Banana or mingling with crested mona monkeys at the breathtaking Parque Natural Obô de São Tomé.

All in all, São Tomé & Príncipe feels like a break from the rest of the world, a place that contains sights, sounds, smells, and tastes that few others have ever had the privilege of experiencing.

This itinerary is ideal for anyone wishing to get to grips with this beautiful corner of the world. If you have any tips for West Africa travel, let us know in the comments!

The shiny, instagram friendly side of small businesses is hard to escape but sometimes, we need to get real and into the numbers! Today we chat with Camille, founder of leading semi-permanent make up brand Camille Beaute .

We loved speaking to Camille as she’s so real and inspiring – I mean, she went from starting her business from £2K to having clients travel to her from mainline Europe to snag an appointment spot in her 4 month waiting list…

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HOC: So nice to meet you, Camille! Can you tell us why you do what you do?

Camille: Hello! I guess first of all, it’s about my clients! Seeing happy faces and making lives so much easier (I can save them time every day as they don’t need to draw their eyebrows every morning!) For some clients this can change their life. I’m so passionate about my work!

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HOC: What is your journey to starting your business; we know you started with only £2K…

Camille: Yep! I started three years ago, with just £2k. I didn’t have a job at that time and my mum offered for me to do some training. Throughout childhood I was an artist. And I see permanent make up as being art, because you are drawing on faces!

I came across courses for Micro-blading; and did them all! Getting started was really hard because I was new in the beauty business. Of course, semi permanent make up it’s not easy, you need to put in lots of practice and hard work! .

HOC: What difficult choices did you have to make when starting the business?

Camille: When I started, day by day I kept practicing and learning from my mistakes! The beginning was very difficult, but every day I woke up and thought ‘it’s new day to make something good for my business!’ At the beginning I was working so hard just to survive in London. When I became busier and got used to seeing so many happy faces and getting good reviews, I started to love what I’m doing. That feeling just makes me work harder and harder!

It took me half year to become busy. And now I’m a woman-in-demand; this is what my clients call me! The most important part of my business is that I love meeting amazing people from all the world. Having clients from Australia to Canada including New Zealand, Middle East, Asia, Pakistan, Mauritius, Nigeria, Zambia, Canada, USA, and South America! I even have clients who travel to me from all over Europe just for their eyebrows! It might sound crazy, but it’s amazing to have such a great clients, who say that they only trust me!I will always keep training with best trainers in the world especially as my industry is such a big business at the moment! There’s always something new to learn, for instance there are lots of more natural looking techniques; it’s nothing like the old fashioned permanent tattoo eyebrows or lip contour!I started with one client per week and now I have a 4 month waiting list! It’s so important to never give up! .

HOC: What does the team at Camille Beauty look like?

Camille: Because I’m so busy, I found a great assistant! I’ve trained her, showed her all my skills and step by step she is becoming an amazing Micro-blading artist!

At the beginning it was challenging for my clients to trust her work as well as mine but now she is doing so well! Hopefully soon she will become just as in-demand as me!

I’m also on the lookout for more girls to work with me but it’s tricky finding the right people that me and my clients can trust.

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HOC: How can someone prepare themselves for entrepreneurial life?

Camille: You need to find something you love to do. And then it doesn’t feel like work anymore. Starting anything new is difficult and mistake after mistake! But if you keep learning, you won’t repeat your mistakes!

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HOC: What’s your most popular service?

Camille: Semi-permanent make up is very popular at the moment. Clients here in the UK are still really into Micro-blading but also ombré eyebrows or soft shading it’s also amazing treatment which looks natural. Many clients are still scared of semi-permanent make up, probably because of bad experiences with old fashion tattoo make up on faces. Everything is so much better these days! It’s looks natural and doesn’t go so deep into the skin and last around 12-18 months. For sure, everyone needs to do lots of research into where they go and who they are going to trust. This business is very popular and many girls think that it’s easy! In every salon you will find a beautician who’s doing Micro-blading or semi-permanent make up. But of course… not everyone can be good in this business! ..

HOC: What’s your ambition for your brand?

Camille: My dream is to be one of the biggest brands of semi permanent make up treatments and academy in the UK. I always want to offer the best and the highest quality service for all my clients and – of course- always keep them happy and pleased.

HOC: What trends are coming up in semi-permanent make up that we should look out for?

Camille: There’s new trends coming through: hyper realistic hairstrokes, natural looking lip colours, permanent BB cream, shaded eyeliner, scalp micro-pigmentation…. everything that enhances your beauty without changing your face!

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HOC: The ’10 years ago’ challenge is all the rage on insta at the moment, what advice do you have for the 2009 you?

Camille: Omg! At that time I was just a child! Honestly, I didn’t care about anything ; I was just thinking about each day and living flippantly! I made so many mistakes but now I’m thinking that I was learning all lessons all the time. If I hadn’t have enjoyed my careless life I wouldn’t be where I am now! Everything comes at the right time and everything has a reason. Even if something bad happens, it doesn’t matter; just learn from it and keep moving. If you believe in yourself and also believe in karma you’re on the right path.You can’t ever expect someone else to create your future. Only you can do it! .Learn more about Camille’s business at CamilleBeaute.co.uk Follow @microbladinglondon

Ozoza Lifestyle, means Beautiful Lifestyle. The word “Ozoza” means beautiful in the Ebira language of Nigeria. The founders of Ozoza are Africans who wish to share the beautiful elements of African heritage with the rest of the world.

Here, we chat to the founders to find out more…

When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
We officially launched the brand in June 2017. Ozoza Lifestyle means Beautiful Lifestyle. The word “Ozoza” means beautiful in the Ebira language. Ozoza Lifestyle seeks to bring the alluring spirit of Africa to the world. Our contemporary collection of African home accessories, fashion accessories and artefacts reflect the Ozoza philosophy to preserve the traditional craftsmanship, skills and techniques from across the African continent. We felt that there are so many African stories to tell that haven’t been heard. We seek to do this through our products.

What’s your background?
I grew up travelling and living in various countries due to my father’s profession in the Foreign Service. I loved and still love travelling and learning about various cultures. I am a lawyer by profession and trained and worked in the City of London for many years with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Norton Rose Fulbright. Throughout my life, I have always been involved in and am still involved in developmental projects and the Creative Arts. Ozoza Lifestyle has enabled me to combine the two by working with artisans at a grass root level.

What is the hardest challenge you have faced since starting the Company?
Learning when to switch off. It’s still a work in progress. Slow progress.

Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know
For about a year, I lived in a hut in the Rio Dulce region of the Guatemalan rainforest, whilst working for an NGO running a literacy program for Mayan Indian girls. It’s been one of the best years of my life so far. The work was immensely rewarding and the team was amazing.

2018 is here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
We are working very hard with our partners to make the Ozoza Lifestyle brand reach the international market, showing to the world the beauty and authenticity of Africa.

To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
So much happened since June, every little step is a step closer to where we want Ozoza Lifestyle to be. In October we launched at the British Museum in London, receiving outstanding feedback. With the support of the BBC journalist Asad Ahmad and Lord Poltimore of Sotheby’s auctioned various items from a beautiful selection of Ozoza Fashion, Lifestyle & Home Accessories for charity.

Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
I love all three cities actually, but the city I have spent the most time in and feel most at home in is definitely London.

Style means….?
An authentic expression of oneself.

Best thing about London to you?
Its cosmopolitan nature

Statement Shoe or Statement Bag?
Statement Glasses

Favourite love song?
The love theme composed by Ennio Morricone for the film Cinema Paradiso. Incredibly moving piece.

Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
Focus on the positive and seize the day.

Guilty pleasure?
Dark chocolate with almonds. No guilt though.

If you could spent 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Deep-Sea diving off the coast of Zanzibar, then watching the sun set from the rooftops of Stone Town. It’s simply a magical place. Outside Africa, it would have to be Havana, Cuba because of its African spirit. I spent many years of my childhood there and loved the warmth and openness of the people as well as the sheer beauty of the place.

Find out more…

Website: www.ozozalifestyle.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ozozalifestyle

Instagram: www.instagram.com/ozozalifestyle

Twitter: www.twitter.com/ozozalifestyle

Snapchat: ozozalifestyle