On the path to you… | Launching Lavendame

Self discovery

Every year, I find myself a little bit more. I learn more about my fears and how to challenge them, I learn more about what I like and what I don’t like. When I feel most and least confident. Frankly, the answers to these questions change and I expect that will remain true as I carry on with life. However, as I approach my first quarter century, (yes I turn 25 this year) I can honestly say that some things that are core to who I am are becoming a little clearer.

This weekend I hosted 8 beautiful women at a sewing workshop as my pilot event for Lavendame. Now before I take you on the who, what, when, why journey of Lavendame, I remembered a little plan I had when I was about 14. I wrote all about it in a blue hard cover note book. It was going to be called “Purple touch” and while I don’t remember all the details but it was definitely about empowering women. I remember being fussy about the little details like what shade of purple would be my theme and what my logo would look like. I knew I wanted to make an impact with women in my community but that’s about all I remember.

This brings me back to the core things that make me tick. Empathy, Empowering women, Art, Family, Faith and Community. Everything I do draws from these pools. I suppose I’ve known this for a while but only subconsciously so. The idea for Lavendame started brewing years ago when I first started plotting my vision for my life, a vision of building economically sustainable communities. At the time it wasn’t called Lavendame; it wasn’t called anything. The idea of Purple touch was then a distant memory and I was feeling a little lost for purpose.

Fast forward to December last year and I had a yearning to create an arts based community of women in the city. Women like me, who spend the greater part of their day at a job, being a polished and professional version of themselves, spending too little time doing things that ignited their passions and investing all of their creative energy in developing decks and finding the best way to tell the client that they need to make a decision or kick rocks. I missed sewing, I missed blogging, I missed experimenting with other creative outlets like painting and knitting and baking and writing. I missed being well rounded and doing things for me! I was certain that there were other women in the city that felt the exact same way so I was determined to make that community happen.

I talked the idea over with my family and inner circle and slowly began to gain confidence that this idea was worth pushing for…Then the fear kicked in. What if there are other people doing the same thing or similar things (there are). What if I jump into this too soon and it’s half baked and everyone hates it? (Welp!). What if there’s no reasonable way to sustain this (still figuring this out). I wrote my ideas out in painstaking detail, mulled over them and wrote some more. I talked about it again with family¬† and with God and everyone’s feedback was Just Start Already!

The first time I reached out to a sewing studio for this, I literally had to psyche myself up; “pretend this is just like reaching out to book an event for your birthday” “Just ask if they even do private events” “Just try!” I am so thankful to the lovely people at The Make Den for answering the thousands of questions I had and making great recommendations. After I finally locked down the location, I psyched myself up once again to reach out to my friends to see if they would come. Fear and fulfillment are neighbors I guess because with shaky fingers I typed up the message and sent it out to a few friends, anxiously awaiting any kind of response. The yeses trickled in and I sat on my bed bawling and laughing because I was just so happy anyone would be willing to take that chance on me

The dust has settled now from my first event, feedback is coming in at a steady pace and it’s generally positive, constructive and very actionable. More events are coming up for Lavendame so stay tuned on our Instagram. There’s a peace that comes with doing something you were made to do and I definitely feel this is one of those things

Let me know in the comments if you have any stories of finding yourself, where are you in that journey?

The Nigerian Woman|Unafraid

Gender Parity and the Prohibition of Violence against Women

African woman

Hi Guys!

I had planned a completely different post for today but well this happened and I just had to voice my opinions. As some of you may be aware, the Nigerian senate- consisting mostly of old men-recently opposed a bill aimed at protecting the rights of women in marriage, employment and education. I am in no way surprised at this and I don’t know anyone who is frankly, but I am utterly disgusted.

Checking my privilege: I can not speak for all women and I certainly cannot speak for all Nigerian women. Some of the people who may have been most affected by this bill may have varied views on it’s relevance. I have been privileged thus far in the family I was born into. I have been heavily shielded from a lot of the realities of being female in Nigeria. I have been taught repeatedly to see myself as a leader, as someone with much to bring to the table. This is not a reality for all (many) Nigerian women. ¬†This is not to imply that I am oblivious to the realities of being female in Nigeria, patriarchy and frankly misogyny seeps into even the most mundane conversations. I however feel it is important to acknowledge the ways in which I may be distanced from a full understanding of what is at stake.

Several articles have highlighted a few of the senators who were opposed to the bill and of course Senator Yerima felt it was his duty to oppose this bill on the basis of his religious beliefs. Now I respect anyone’s right to assert their beliefs, however there comes a point where you need to stop using religion as a medium to serve your heinous desires. Can we just stop to think about how after we all hash-tagged #childnotbride on social media, wrote articles and protested, this man still sits comfortably in the house of senate without a care. No accountability. No repercussion. And to think all it took was to cite religion and our uproar became a silent grumble.

Nigeria for all its patriarchy does a huge disservice to men because if a room full of decision makers whose sole purpose is to serve their country still cannot stretch their perspective enough to consider how protecting women against the constant violence that is inflicted on them could be necessary then you my friends are enduring the greatest torture. To be so enraptured by your privilege that you fail to see how you are setting yourself up for failure, I truly pity you.

Nigerian women are phenomenal! As evidenced by the few women I have featured in this series and those who I will feature in the months to come, they are barrier breakers, leaders, innovators, creatives! How is it that in 2016 we are still reducing a conversation about violence against women to the institutions under which they marry? How is this relevant to protecting their basic human rights? We pretend that the only context that women are abused is within marriage when in fact at every phase of a Nigerian woman’s life she must face some form of abuse. You can’t play this way, You can’t dress this way, You can’t speak this way, You can’t earn this much, You can’t advance this fast. We are constantly saying, limit yourself, do the bare minimum, wait for a man, don’t shame us by your brazenness. I felt it was important to state my privilege at the beginning of this post because as much as violence against women tears at my soul, there are women who wholeheartedly believe that their husbands can “discipline” them physically, that there is no such thing as a man raping his wife and that they deserve less in life simply on account of their genitalia. I can not speak for anyone other than myself and I cannot present anything other than my own moral stance and I say Nigeria you are failing your women!

We can not continue to lean so heavily on principles that have systematically diminished the worth of our own people. This should not be a tousle between man and woman. If truly all a woman is to you is your property then the least you can do is protect what is yours but even in your own logic you fail. I am thoroughly unimpressed with the light that this casts the majority of the Nigerian senate in.

I am a Nigerian woman and I am not afraid to say that I expect more.

I expect more from my country’s decision makers.

I expect more from Nigerian men.

I expect more from Nigeria.