Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Pepper Okwesa talks fashion, style and the confidence from within.


Pepper Okwesa.
"Accept your flaws , be yourself, be proud of who you are . Feel free to talk about your heritage " 
- Pepper  Okwesa (fashion journalist and celebrity stylist).

  She  also tells Faunteewrites about her Tshirt range (Purple Pepper), confidence and style, and the colours to watch out for this summer. 

Tell me about your Purple Pepper Tshirt range
Couple of years ago,  I began on this pet project (Purple Pepper)  which is a taste of idea, a combination of message on how to play your cards right, and representing the history of African Queens and Kings. Telling a story of my upbringing  and experiences.

From my first collection, I have not developed the label much because of all my other projects, and I wouldn't call myself a designer, rather I have ideas and concepts that I like to express through clothing sometimes and it’s available for anyone who wishes to wear it. I have the collection available in our Retrospective vintage boutique in Lagos at the moment.

There has been a surge in the African fashion industry, what do you think is keeping the drive?
I guess it comes from an inefficiency and ignorance to truly represent African culture, fashion and style for what it really is for such a long time. Our fashion and experiences have been dominated by the West for too long and we are now in an era where people are simply fed up with being told who they are, about their culture or even what to wear. People are now taking steps to represent their work and having their voice and contributions heard. I think social media has been a great tool in making things happen for the industry. It's much easier now to have people network, share ideas and have their say. Media now is no longer in the hands of a few. There are new publications appreciating and expressing African fashion and style. So with all this going on it just seems like an explosion waiting for too long to happen.
What is the market reaction to these all, are they buying?
Yes! People are buying, embracing the creativity, quality and uniqueness of African print s, textiles and style also to support the industry. African fashion has gone beyond mere cutting and sewing Ankara. I am a little concerned about the strong focus of African fashion being solely luxury and high end in terms of price points when at times it is not justified. It would be very good when the industry has a platform and structure for more designers and brands to make African fashion more accessible and relevant to the everyday person. People are also buying African brands because the design quality and aesthetic have improved, though I still feel closer attention can be paid to craftsmanship as opposed to jumping onto the numerous fashion show and event bandwagons. I think this would help ensure the industry is not about trend rather my vision for African fashion is to be sustainable, empowering and timeless.

What do you recommend as a wardrobe must have for a busy Black woman and why?
a). Head wrap – especially in an African or a tasteful print. I love wraps for bad hair days and when I am in the cold.
b). Shoes with platform or wedged heel - they will keep you glamorous yet comfortable.
c). Classic blazer: Gives you the look of not trying too hard. A good stylish and well fitted blazer will always keep you looking on point and sophisticated.
d). Accessories: whatever your taste in accessories, the right combination will help you bring your look together, help you dress up or dress down for the occasion

What colours do it for you?
Honestly my choice of colour depends on my mood at a particular period. However, I like wearing colours that compliment my complexion. For me for example I would go for coral/oranges, red and turquoises; which work for dark skin tones and are uplifting. When I want to keep it fresh and clean I opt for whites and nudes. Of course you can’t go wrong with black!
Who is your Favourite African designer?
I don’t have one favourite designer rather I admire different elements of designers or their collection. What springs to mind first; I love Deola Sagoe because she is just a goddess when it comes to the art of storytelling through culture and fashion. Grey- I love their use of colour they are fresh and appealing. I am always happy when I wear a Grey piece. I think Maki Oh is a creative genius, her use of indigenous textiles is amazing and timeless. I am crazy about prints so Duro Oluwo is a favourite for me here too, his designs are so elegant yet eclectic. I really like Bestow Alan, Chichia London, because of their beautiful designs and consistency. There is a brand called To-orist that I really like too, I love their aesthetic and combination of art in their collections. I also love designers like Samantha Cole, Anita Quansha, Beatrice K Newman, who are not afraid to push boundaries.
How can African women use their style to express confidence and yet sexy?
First thing is coming to terms with yourself and accepting your flaws. Knowing your shape and going with who you are rather than imitating or trying to be someone else is also vital to confidence building. You are who God made you and no one can change that. Stay simple, stay you and people will come to know you for your own style and appreciate that. It is also very important for the ones that look up to you. Like your daughter, niece, sister etc, they will see that you are confident in your own skin and try to emulate that which is very important for young women in today’s society.
What trend do you predict this summer?
This summer there will be a lot of 1920s references in fashion, with flapper dressers, tassels etc; that whole Gatsby era. Colours will be bright again, especially in the way of techno or the ‘CYMK’ colour scheme – neon, citrus and strong blue hues. I think we will see a lot of lace this summer and of course African print and patterns will be very predominant this season.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

How can I protect myself from sun damage.

Picture courtesy of Thampaponi

Protecting  yourself from the sun damage is simple:

1. Limit your exposure to the sun.

Though not all exposure to the sun is dangerous. The sun helps your body to absorb vitamin D, which is essential for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Minerals necessary for healthy bones and teeth.

What is mind boggling then is knowing when  exposure has become excessive. Well, depending on these factors one can have an idea of how much time to spend exposed to the sun.  Time of the day, the place, skin colour and intensity of the sun all play a role in determining the extent to which one can stay exposed. Expert advice puts it like this; do not exceed 30 minutes of exposure without a form of protection.

2. Wear some form of protection.

Put on sunscreen all over your body, concentrating on the more delicate exposed areas . Eg, the face and neck. You have to also allow about 5 to 10 minutes  for the cream to get absorbed into the skin before going under the sun.

Wear  hats while under the sun , this will serve as a barrier from the direct rays on your face, thus, protecting your face, eyes and hair.

3. Stay away from direct sun heat.

Use of umbrellas, staying under a shade like tree etc. will not be a bad idea too. Any thing that will help to create a barrier between you and the direct contact with the sun rays should always be considered.

So now go on stay sun damage free while you enjoy the summer


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

You and the sun: Protect your ebony from the UV rays.

It doesn't matter what colour your skin is. Excessive exposure to the sun can be extremely  damaging to the health, texture and glow of your skin.

 For the black woman, it's even more important to understand how your skin interacts with the sun. This is because, it is easier for you to get deceived by your dark skin colour. Though it is true that you have  more melanin present in your skin to protect you from the sun damage. It is also true that it does not guarantee protection when you are excessively exposed to the UV. Your dark skin makes it even more difficult to detect  when damage occurs.

Therefore, it is even more essential that every woman, black, white, red whatever colour you prefer to  take precaution while going under the sun. This of course will depend on the place, at what time of the and the intensity of the heat at the time. The unfortunate thing is that the wrinkles may not start to appear at the time of damage and the individual may not relate it to the excessive exposure later in life.

What are the side effects of excessive exposure to the sun?

1.Photo-ageing(premature wrinkles):

Excessive exposure to the UV rays of the sun can cause a reduction in size of the outer layer of the skin (squamous epithelium), thereby, slowing down the production of  collagen. In effect making the skin lose its contour, elasticity and glow, causing sagging, appearance of premature wrinkles and deepening of the fine lines. Making the sufferer look much older than should.

2.Erythema ( sun burn) :  

 Simply put; this is the inflammation of the skin tissues due to excessive direct sun heat.  When the skin absorbs so much energy from the UV rays,  inflammatory process occurs. In response to this, there is a rush of blood cells to the areas in an effort to fight the intruder. Thus, the redness and swelling on the affected areas. Though the redness may not be immediately seen on the darker skin, it does not necessarily mean that there is no damage.  

3. Dark patches on the skin             

Melanin is a naturally occurring substance responsible for the darker colour of the skin.  It is responsible for protecting the skin from the sun.  But due to damage to the skin by the sun rays, it could become excessive or inharmonious leaving some permanent discolourations in the form of patches usually on the face due to its delicate nature.

 4. Skin cancer:    

Skin cancer is a very serious and  life threatening side effect of  excessive exposure to the UV rays. Unfortunately, millions of African women die each year from undetected skin cancer possibly due to  damage from excessive sun exposure.

Therefore, it is absolutely necessary then that the awareness be spread to especially to every black woman on the need to stay protected from the ugly effects of the sun.  

Related topics 

How can I protect myself from sun damage?                

Monday, 7 May 2012

4 great tips to keeping those smiles alive.



 Treat your teeth to a sparkle:

Great teeth great smile. When you have a clean white sparkly teeth, smile becomes a routine. Of course who wouldn't show what she's got. Well groom teeth is a breath of fresh air, it gives confidence and attracts positive attention. It is worthwhile then to spend a few quid on teeth care.

Too keep a great healthy teeth, see your dentist often, eat healthy, brush/wash your teeth at least 2 times a day especially before bed. Stay away from smoking. Floss your teeth as often as possible.

Laugh at yourself:

Find reasons to laugh at yourself and better reason to laugh with others. Yeah! Convert every disappointment to great joy. Laugh it off girl. They can't possibly be ignoring you. How can?  This is the only time I believe you should stay selfish. If those around you decide to be a mess to themselves, don't give in to such mood. Laugh out loud, Look in the mirror laugh at those insecurities of yours and overcome them.
Keep a good memory of positive events and engage in activities that boost your energy. Stay away from energy sappers period!

Give and return smile gestures:

It leaves a great feeling when smiles are exchanged. It doesn't matter who it is that smiled at you, just respond with a smile too. Relax and for once leave suspicion alone. Smile back first before thinking of their intentions.

Focus on the benefit:

Now listen, there are going to be a few who are always always not in the mood.  But you know what? You are not going to let them sabotage your happiness. You know why you chose to stay positive. It is for your own goodness sake. So forget what any other is thinking. After all, its your face.

Picture credit to digitalart

Related Posts:

When I see you smile (A poem by Fauntee)
Smile your way to a great healthy self esteem.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

When I see you smile:

When I see you smile
My heart is filled with warmth
I could go for another mile
Thinking of that sparkle
that shines through  your eyes
makes my day  so bright in a twinkle.
Letting the days stress fade from the memory.

When I see your smiles
I feel I have found the treasure
Locked up away miles and miles
So far away from the reach of man
Oh how white those teeth are
Sure to make any woman
to blush and want to be closer.

When I see you smile
I feel my day is made
I could stay for another while
When you smile at me
I could make another smile
Another sees me
And a such it goes on and on .....

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Smile your way to a great and healthy self esteem.

Great smiles make a great day. It makes you feel good from within. It relaxes the facial muscles , making the eyes to sparkle. It brings out the beauty in you and greatly boosts your esteem. When you feel good from inside, you look great too.

Ever felt the warmth of belonging when you are having a great smiley time with friends . It feels so good. You feel energised, empowered, and brightens up all the dark corners of your heart. When you smile at people, they respond with a smile, and you see life become easier and approachable.

Smile is free yet much more valuable than gold or silver. It inspires a positive attitude, keeping you happily optimistic despite what  happens around.

When you smile, the world smiles back at you. So go on keep smiling and make the world a smiley better place.

More on smiles