A couple weeks ago, I attended the Fashion Exchange event run by the wonderful organization called Enterprise Nation.
The event turned out to be far more interesting than the London Fashion Week events. The speakers were excellent and provided some amazing leads to the fashion entrepreneurs who came along. Buyers from John Lewis, Liberties, House of Fraser, ASOS, Caggie Dunlop and her mom (Founders of ISWAI) were all present. The person whose message gave us a great kickstart here at DFYNorm- is Daniel Peters, the King of ultra stylish Pop Ups for new fashion startups. We are now at the Permanent Pop Up in Soho!
We also loved the founder of Style Tribe Gina Dyer, whose wisdom we are implementing as we speak…
Besides the speakers, I left feeling really inspired by the people I met who had attended the event. There were some real stars there.
There was an intangible intelligence, a humor and a sense of caring and connection in the room, which I thought was very profoundly different from anything I have ever experienced or expected to experience in a general fashion environment.
A good number of the people who attended came in statement outfits; a nice change from the dreary outfits you see at events. Mind you, I’m not making any judgments. How can I, as someone who hasn’t started to care two cents what I wear (from a fashion point of view). Nevertheless, it is always fun to see people have fun with what they wear. Celebratory.
I want to introduce you to four entrepreneurs I met in the audience:
Carolyn Newton, the Founder of Whale Company
What struck me about her was how much her energy resembled that of a dolphin’s. I couldn’t get over looking at her grey blue eyes and thinking- God, she looks like a dolphin!
And guess what? That’s when I discover that she has founded a conscious organization called The Whale Company that has an alternative and organic solution to the plastic bags. She had fire in her eyes when she spoke of how toxic plastic bags are to the marine habitat. She has a very cost-effective and very stylish range of bags which you should definitely get your hands on. A portion of the sales goes back to marine conservation efforts. A true trooper she is and we are delighted to announce a collaboration with her shortly!
Anna, the Founder of AFRORETRO
Anna’s company the Afro-Retro designs some very clever jewelry from upcycled envelopes! They are up on the ASOS Marketplace.
Anna is eager to unite her love of fashion and great design with her uniquely urban take on Ugandan culture.
What was so nice of Anna was to mention that she actually knew us on the social media sphere! I am going to take a moment to blow our own trumpet here. Anna said she was delighted to put a face to the DFYnorm movement- My face! That was probably the first time I’ve ever gotten recognition anywhere for what we have started doing here. Thank you so much Anna for that.
Sarah Parham, the Founder of SVP Jewellery
Sarah Parham is an innovative jewellery designer who pushes boundaries with her designs. Rules are ignored (You can see why I fell in love with her concept!). Her jewellery behaves in ways you don’t expect them to. They are playful, they are colorful and full of meaning.
Sarah was wearing a few of her gorgeous pieces and I loved them.
Her jewellery is handcrafted by artisans in India. We copied these lines from her website: “We favour man over machine because it helps safeguard our jewellers so every piece has a story to tell.” Ooh, that is just like us! And here’s more- With her passion for ethical fashion, she “ensures that every piece of SVP Jewellery is intrinsically beautiful, not just beautiful to look at.” Need I say more?
Alex captured the attention of everyone in attendance when he walked over to the front of the room as Caggie and her mom were speaking, and proceeded to put a ring each on their fingers! Everyone including Emma Jones (the founder of Enterprise Nation) was caught in shocking wonder thinking- “What exactly is happening here?” I think everyone was slightly relieved when Caggie’s mom also received the gift. Nothing romantic then.
Alex was just being a master marketer, introducing what he did with aplomb at just the right time.
I had a chance to speak to him later and learned that he makes jewellery with designs made by children in Rwanda. Each ring he makes for example has art designed by a child which is then used to make a pattern on some exquisite rings. They are so beautiful inside out. And with the sale of each ring, six children at the Ahazaza school are provided lunch, which they could not otherwise have afforded. So anyone who’s thinking of getting a beautiful ring, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better ones.
So friends, do you see what I mean? We live in very exciting times…