Inception: Where did this idea come from and how did it all start?
Lying on my sofa one day in 2014, after my then 9-5pm job, I was mulling over things that REALLY interested me. I knew, that I knew, that I knew, that I had a passion for beautifully presented spaces and fashion; - clothing, homes, corporate and private events.
Without much thought, the idea of home decor just dropped into my mind. The idea of designing and making beautiful, characterful and unique pieces which would make people's home pop, made me smile. It felt right, real and 'was me to the 'T'.
A light bulb just switched on. My mind started racing and ideas came flowing in from all directions and out of nowhere. It was effortless. I knew this was what I wanted to do. Perfect.
After the euphoria of the 'light bulb moment' and the feeling of satisfaction/ fulfillment and spiritual ease, my Project Management and planning instinct kicked in. Put simply;
Scope: Product style -'Afropean' Home Decor pieces (African/European);
- Product type - Home Decor and Accessories - cushions, table runners, bedding, bathroom accessories and wall art;
- Product nature - unique, limited edition and bespoke; production strategy.
Cost: financing and work within budget to make a profit.
Time: production and delivery times to meet deadlines on orders;
Quality: Use of high quality fabrics, labour and quality assurance checks
My theory was sorted and although I didn't have all the answers to certain questions, I decided to go with my gut feeling (which may not work for everyone and not in the least prescriptive). I naively thought that because it felt right, the business will be smooth sailing.
All I knew at this point was I wanted to design and produce high quality bespoke and limited edition African inspired home decor pieces which will appeal to a wider audience.
Sewing machine bought, (mind you, I hadn't used a sewing machine since my secondary school Home Economics classes) and pieces of scrap fabrics to practice on, I was ready to go. Who said necessity wasn't the mother of invention? If there's a will, there's a way. I can't profess to be a professional machinist but I taught myself to sew.
Then came the business name - FesDesigns (Fese, my name + Designs); my creativity and I wanted to take ownership.
Working with African prints, my designs became vibrant, bold and characterful. I thoughtfully combined various textures, fabrics and trimmings to produce pieces showcasing rich African cultures, while keeping them contemporary.
One year in, I was full of zeal; made lot of contacts and expanded my client base through exhibitions, trade Fairs, market stalls and social media.
I was designing and producing new pieces on a daily basis because I was passionate, excited and my creative juices were flowing. I was filled with emotions of total exhilaration when I come up with a design which evolved and ended being a best seller; feeling of pride when customers complimented my work and give positive feedback. On the other hand, I naturally felt disappointed when sales were not as great as I had thought etc etc.
Overall, I was happy and pressing ahead with my vision and enlarging clientele.
One lesson I've learnt is- NOT TO ALLOW DISAPPOINTMENTS DETERMINE MY VISION BUT ALLOW MY VISION TO DETERMINE MY JOURNEY. I decided to stay focused while making some adjustments; re-routing. I remembered that "Rome wasn't built in a day ".
This year was a 'mixed bag' with the first half being 'busyish' and the second half relatively quiet and unsettled.
January- I was in Cameroon on holiday. Took my sewing machine with me, made and sold a few pieces. Nothing significant.
April/May - travelled to Freetown and did a couple of exhibitions - MaDegne Festival / Taste of Salone event, Freetown Business and Professional Women, FesDesigns Exhibition at The Swiss Spirit Hotel (Sierra Leone).
At this point, I knew I was going to move to Jamaica with my husband who had just received a job offer. That meant Fesdesigns had to relocate and look for new market opportunities. Also I had to put Fesdesigns on the back burner while sorting out the family, relocation and logistics of settling in a new country. There was a mixture of excitement and anxiety.
July - London- Lambeth Country show, Black Market and Film Festival, Kitenge.
Some shows were good, others not so good.
July - December 2017 was not very eventful; did two events. It was a period of reflection and learning for me. It gave me the unique opportunity to experience the Caribbean culture and how to add accents of that into my work. As much as my work is Afropean, Afro-Caribbeans have also been great supporters of FesDesigns so to make my work more inclusive was not only a great learning experience but it also enriched my creativity.
I decided on was, NOT TO DOWNGRADE MY DREAMS TO MATCH MY REALITY; RATHER UPGRADE MY BELIEF TO MATCH MY VISION.
Looking forward to 2018 with renewed hope, zeal, aspiration and new location...SINGAPORE!!!!
Yes, Fesdesigns go wherever employment opportunities take my husband.
It was our first time in Asia. Singapore is known as a shopping city so other than being excited to let my inner shopaholic loose, I am excited and planning for that shopping culture to be transferred to my business.
Singapore gives me an opportunity to introduce African home decor to a different society, as well as new opportunities to create a fusion such as Afro-Asian pieces.
Hope you'll join me on my business journey.
Your commentsare welcome.