Friday, 8 June 2012

We've moved!!

Hi everyone!


We wanted to tell you that the time has finally come for us to say 'cheerio blogspot, it's been nice hanging with you, but it's time to move on to pastures new' :(


We purchased our domain name aaaaaages ago but have only just started using it, so head on over and show us some love there. We'll be doing exactly what we've done here, but just better!

www.blackgirlflow.com


See you on the other side!


Thursday, 24 May 2012

AVERY*Sunshine

A good few weeks ago we were invited to see Thabo and the Real Deal who were opening the AVERY*Sunshine show at the famous Band on the Wall... definitely a night to remember with a room oozing with talent and depth.


We had heard a few tracks from the very bubbly lady but seeing her perform live was by far the best way to really introduce ourselves to her soulful and uplifting music.


AVERY*Sunshine is linked to DaisyRew, "Meet the Browns" (Tyler Perry's stage play), was also involved in the making of "The Fighting Tempatations" Soundtrack... the list is endless!


Her song writing and keyboard playing skills together with her infectious voice bring out meaning to songs that reflect her personal experience and that we can all relate to. Coming from a gospel background, she sure brings out the "shine" in everyone. In her own words "Let yourself shine".


For more info on AVERY*Sunshine and her music, visit her 
facebook (and like), follow her on twitter and visit her website.



Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Toulou Organics


Last week we were invited to the re-launch of Toulou Organics in the lovely surroundings of the Society Bar and Restaurant in Blackfriars. I must say we were really looking forward to this event, having had a little peak at the website we couldn't wait to see what else this brand had to offer.


Toulou Organics is a UK based skin and hair care range developed by Andrea Lawrence. The company aims to not only bring the benefits of natural ingredients to the masses, but they also aim to educate people on how to better take care of their hair and skin without the use of synthetic chemicals.

“Our objective is not to revolutionise, but to neutralise. 
The world is seeing a massive shift moving back to basic and natural products. 
There is a desire for individuals to stop the constant contamination 
being consumed through our food, makeup and skin care 
and our product focuses on bringing it back to nature” - Andrea Lawrence


As we sipped on virgin cocktails, Andrea told us more about why she decided to start the company back in 2006, and she demonstrated her extensive knowledge of aromatherapy and natural ingredients by effortlessly answering questions from the audience. From speaking to other people who attended, it was clear that her knowledge and passion for her products is clearly one of this company's selling points!


All the products are handmade by Andrea's own fair hands with high quality, ethically sourced ingredients. Using a combination of butters, oils and floral waters Toulou Organics have developed a range of luxurious products suitable for all.


On our way out we were given a basket of goodies to take home and try. We received... 









I've been using the face cream for a couple of days now and I can say it does exactly what it says on the tin! I'm really excited to try out the other products too, especially the Tropical Coconut Shampoo Bar (which smells ah-ma-zing) and we'll be doing reviews of everything when we get round to using them.


Toulou Organics really impressed us with the wide range of products, the fabulous packaging and their commitment to not only providing quality products, but also educating their customers about adopting a healthier lifestyle.


You can find Toulou Organics on their website and you can follow them on twitter.




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Monday, 21 May 2012

Pandora's Box



I can still remember the threats from my parents as they had reached the end of their tether and declared 'next time you do that, I'm putting you on a plane and sending you back to your grandma'. The threat of being sent back to Africa was a reality for many of us born or raised in the Diaspora and Ade Solanke's play, Pandora's Box, examines how making this decision can affect both parent and child.


Set in the hours before their flight back to London, Toyin has to make the decision whether to leave her 15 year old son Timi in Lagos to finish school or take him back to the mean streets of London. Whilst she agonises over what is the right thing to do, the rest of her family are continually putting in their own two cents, only making the situation more complicated. 
As the play unfolds, we quickly get to learn why Toyin is finding the decision so hard and why her friends and family have so much to say.


Ade Solanke's play addresses a number of the current issues faced by many parents and children, such as education and violence. She also deals with issues of identity and abondonment, which will surely resonate with those who have been displaced at some point in their lives.


Although serious issues are addressed, the play is full of hilarious moments and if the audience we were part of was anything to go by, expect everyone to be joining in with their opinions. There were stellar performances from Yetunde Adewole, who plays Toyins successful older sister Ronke, Petra Letang, who plays Toyins best friend Bev and Damson Idris, Timi's friend who had been left in Lagos the year before.


Pandora's Box is a great play full off laughs but with a message that will surely get you thinking! 


Pandora's Box will be showing till Saturday 26th May at Arcola Tent (yes it's an actual tent), 24 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London E8 3DL.


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Indulge in...Jali

Blackgirlflow meets Jali at the London celebration of International Francophone Day. Listen to what he has to say about his easy listening-style music:




Like Jali on Facebook and like him on twitter

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Sunday, 13 May 2012

Doing business in Africa



What does it mean to do business in Africa? Surely 'doing business' is 'doing business' whether in Africa, South America, the Middle East...? WRONG!

Survival of the fittest is part of human nature and striving for success (and riches) seems to be on everyone's agenda in the business world. Our capitalistic-shaped world strongly encourages fierce competition and earning maximum profits is certainly what puts one at the top the league table as a business. Where does this leave Africa on the world map?

The history of the continent is complex enough and bunching it as a country clouds clear strategies for outsiders wanting to invest in one or more African countries. In many ways, the continent has lagged behind however over the last few decades, we can see clear signs of several countries asserting themselves and proving that possibilities are infinite especially where resources are abundant.
The Cambridge Africa Business Network (CABN at the Judge Business School) hosted its first conference that focused on why and how to invest in Africa - "Unlocking Value in Frontier Africa". For a conference of its kind (and first one for that matter), there was a remarkable quality of guests and the allocation of time for discussions by the members of the public was well planned.

The opening keynote by former Olusegun Obasanjo (President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) set the tone for the conference and Lanre Akinola made us all feel at ease when interviewing His Excellency. 

Olusegun Obansanjo and Lanre Akinola 


The trends in foreign direct investments (FDI) differ depending on the country and sector, nevertheless it is true to say that the level of investments has risen over the last few decades. Obasanjo is of the view that the reason rewards have not been reaped to the maximum is not because of the lack of investment but rather the lack of adequate institutions. In fact he was adamant that the short sightedness of looking solely at inviting when spending money is detrimental if the area of institutional reform is ignored. As a result, a large number of the population does not benefit from these very investments. He spoke about a clear system that needs to be established in order for re-investment to follow profits have been gained. He presented his own country when giving examples of how lack of focused investment, lack of maintenance and inappropriate or lack of revenue allocation are key to why Nigeria's energy market (electricity to be precise) is stagnant. Obansanjo also elaborated on the question of why countries rich in endowments such as the DRC lag behind; he stressed that there is no reason why the largest country in Africa (in terms of being the only country in Africa to have two time zones) should have the majority of its population not prospering except that with weak institutions, regulation cannot be enforced and distribution of wealth will be skewed.
Obasanjo's humorous approach was indeed touching and allowed for the audience to engage with his overall positive message:

"We will get there, it's [just] a question of time "


We were also honoured to be in the presence of the Vice President of Zambia, who took centre stage for the closing speech. He made it clear that as a representative of Zambia and from his personal experience, he would only be addressing investments in Zambia. Despite this, a member of the audience asked a question related to Sierra Leone and the beginning of his answer was “I’m not sure where Sierra Leone is”… yet another humorous honorary!


Dr Guy Scott, Vice President of Zambia


In between the opening and closing speeches there where of course several distinguished panelists who shared there opinions from their respective fields. 
As funny as the guests were, their humour touched on some very crucial points that need serious attention. Joking about the obliviousness of the whereabouts of Sierra Leone did tickle the audience however truly “knowing” about individual countries is somewhat missed out by many businesses – and we wonder why many do not prosper?! “Africa is not all the same” pointed out Dzika Danha, the problem of perceived vs. actual is very much alive. It is up to us to turn negativity into positivity; Jean Paul Melaga stressed that “we are terrible at marketing ourselves and our governments need to do better”. 

Responsibility also lies on individuals living on the continent as well as those living outside – Eric-Vincent Guichard turned the attention to the need for the Diaspora to assume it’s role in the running of their individual countries for the good of the continent; he touched on the current problem of lack of expertise that could easily be solved by “brain gain”. “We need capital, not just physical capital but human capital” Jubril Enakele.

Dizka Danha, Eric-Vincent Guichard, Martyn Schouten, Jean-Paul Melaga,
Jubril Enakele with Panel Manager Kwaku Osei


With its low levels of debt compared to other continents, Africa is one of the top ranking place in which it is ideal to invest and for this reason it comes as no surprise that everyone is seeking to explore opportunities. The struggle for power has never been a simple nor a straightforward game and the complex relationship between ‘demanding’ China and Africa especially has everyone at the edge of their seats. This not concerns profits but also merges into the pursuit if political power (Alastair Newton); so with so much potential and so conflicting intentions, how should Africa react to this? In order for some kind of sustainability to be included in the equation “doing business should be [done] for the long haul” said Alastair Newton.

Moderator Prof Jaideep Prabhu with Stephen Murphy, Alastair Newton,
Dr Marial Awou Yol 


China almost always beats most foreign investors with their attractive offers and a lot of distortion occurs on the ground from some investment programmes e.g. railway, infrastructure… (Stephen Murphy) however once again it is up to governments and individuals to make sure they are in a position to “call the shots”.

Good leadership is key to making progress in terms of adequate and appropriate investments, and this is particularly so in the ICT industry. On the third panel, Greg Marchand spoke about a large amount of leadership being ‘mature’ and from a generation that may not necessarily fully grasp the ICT wave and therefore not fully take advantage of the ICT opportunities. Countries in Africa need to be able to distinguish between what it needs rather than taking following what the West is doing (Ken Oyolla).

The issue of solid institutions to enforce policies was revisited in terms of encouraging and protecting innovation. The advancement of the ICT industries not only relies on investments but solid economic success, in other words economic participation needs major focus for investments to consequently be worthwhile (Linet Kwamboka); a point that was picked up and taken further by Dzika Danha - economics drives politics and it is the economics that pushes success.

Greg Marchand, Ken Oyolla, Linet Kwamboka
and moderator Wadzanai Madziva


The conference was packed with information from individuals who have worked in various fields and have the knowledge of what Africa really needs given their past and present experience; a great initiative that I hope will continue for years to come.

Do you have any points or issues concerning ‘doing business in Africa’ that you would like to share with us?

Simply comment below or email us at info@blackgirlflow.com














Thursday, 10 May 2012

Down with the Dictator



A play by Lydia Besong (Cameroonian playwrite and community activist)



As Africa struggles to juggle solutions to its endless problems, the pursuit of building strong institutions and maintaining good governance with sound and democratic leaders/governments has proved to be a challenge in itself.

The wave of independence brought about the opportunity to move from colonial control to domestic power, however, some who assumed their position of power then (and in later years) have simply taken it upon themselves to maintain their 'rule'.

The question of democracy, whether it truly exists and or if it needs to be approached differently on the continent are all relevant however they are not the focus here; instead we turn our attention to those who suffer at the hands of authoritarian regimes. From the Arab spring in the North to the questionable leadership in the South, Africa has had/has its fair share of stories regarding dictatorships gone wrong, massacres and censorship to name a few.


Set in Cameroon, Lydia Besong’s play Down with the Dictator (directed by Magdalen Bartlett) tells the story of the consequences of dictatorships in the world and she also incorporates her own personal story.  The strong piece captures issues that centre around political corruption, censorship and the detrimental effects of oppressive regimes and how many individuals are forced to flee their homes and societies are left broken.
Here are a few thoughts from Lydia herself and the cast:





Director: Magdalen Bartlett
Cast: Gbenga Afolabi, Jason Cameron, Akiel Chinelo, Marcela Hervia, Bethan McEvoy, Emme Obita, George Oluyinka.

For more infromation about Lydia or the play please visit www.can.uk.com




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Met Gala Round up

My intentions were to write a serious, slightly witty and thoughtful post about my thoughts on the fashion at the Met Gala. Sadly my plans were thwarted when I decided to ask the opinions of one of my girls. Her texts had me rolling, so I decided to make them my post...(my thoughts are in purple)

The thing with the Met is that it's a fine line between remembering it's not the Oscars, it's a wonderfully over the top, fashion celebrating, costume ball (so be brave not boring) but also it's not come as fancy dress day or All Hallows Eve - Kristen Stewart didn't get that memo.

Ones I remember liking, January Jones in Versace, 
dress is banging, hair and make-up and that necklace- bleh 



Ginnifer Goodwin in Monique Luhillier





Scarlett Johannsen in Dolce and Gabbana (I'm not feeling this one)


Solange in Rachel Roy. 



Karolina Kurkova in Rachel Zoe...the turban, how do we feel about that? I don't feel good. (The dress is AMAZING, I'm going to pass on the turban)




Also turning my stomach Carey Mulligan,  - I actually liked this :)




Kirsten Dunst in Rodarte -  I get it, but I don't like it...



Eva Mendes in Prada, 



Emma Roberts in Escada #triedtoohard - really? looks simple enough to me



and good ol B,

Beyonce in Givenchy Couture.
Can we talk about this awakward hand on hip pose she does..*sigh*

although I applaud her confidence and sleek hair and face, and showing her snap-back post-baby body, the Met is not for ass (yes we're looking at you too Anja), and they have a carpet, you don't need to bring your own. 


So that was my girls 2 cents but I couldn't end this post without sharing some others that I liked.






Camilla Bell in Ralph Lauren, loved this whole look. 


Jessica Biel in Prada, the hem line looks odd, but it's still very pretty on her. 


Sophia Vegara in Marchesa, I have a soft spot for Sophia  (I love Modern Family) and she looks gorgeous in this dress.


Finally can we take a moment to talk about Christina Ricci in this Thakoon dress? She knows how to dress for The Met Gala - just enough drama! Considering how petite she is, she always seems to pull off these looks, remember the Zac Posen from last year?




There were soooo many looks we could have talked about but that would have taken forever! So tell us who you liked or didn't in the comments :)


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Remember Rwanda, Reclaim Humanity



On the 7th of April every year, Rwandans all over the world take a moment to remember what essentially changed the face of Rwanda...

Although far from home, a group of Rwandan students did not forget the tragedy that their country faced and took the initiative to organise an event where they could share their accounts about the genocide in Rwanda and remember those who lost their lives; this was held on the 23rd of April 2012

In commemoration of the 18th year marking the end of the 100 days of killings in 1994, the organisers did not restrict this time of reflection solely to Rwandans; it was equally an opportunity for those who are not familiar with the events to try and grasp the extent to which this tragedy continues to affect people's lives. It was a time for them to hear personal stories, appreciate the healing process and also appreciate the progress that has been made so far. A representative from the Rwandan Embassy attended the event to share in this commemoration; here are some thoughts that BlackGirlFlow filmed: 


Thursday, 3 May 2012

Niiffe


As you all know, team BGF loves to find out what's new in fashion and just a few weeks ago we interviewed Bolaji Onaolapo, Creative Director of the clothes label Niiffe.

We met her by chance through a friend some months ago and discovered that she had big ideas for an up and coming clothing line! At the time Bolaji was working on the double to make sure she could get her project off the ground. She spoke about how passionate she was about expressing herself through shapes and colours and although she didn't take any tailoring courses, she has mastered the art of sewing. She developed her skills from her mother who used to sew almost everything her family owned.

Her vibrant spirit, drive to succeed and passion to show the world who she is and what inspires her is more than evident through her personal fashion sense and hard work to launch her label...not long to go now!


Bolaji Onaolapo, Creative Director Niiffe

BlackGirlFlow had the pleasure of spending more time with her and getting a sneak peak of what's to come. She told us a little more about her journey and her plan for the future with Niiffe:




Make sure you like Niiffe on facebook and and check out her website.

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Saturday, 21 April 2012

It's Kayosoul now...




If you follow us on twitter, you’ll know we’ve been tweeting about Kayosoul for a while now and eagerly anticipating the release of his debut EP ‘My Name is Kayosoul’. Well it’s finally here and we’re loving it!

How do you describe his music?

Well...I would go for lyrically sincere with a 90’s-esque soulful sound. Kayosoul has been working on his debut EP for over a year now and all the hard work he put in has paid off. From the beats to the lyrics and production, he did it all and the results speak for themselves.  As the title track played I couldn’t helping thinking that where I wanted to be was in a park on a sunny day with a ghetto blaster and a cocktail.....jus' chillin'. I found myself identifying with the sentiments of ‘Just One Wish’,’ Everybody Wants Somebody’ and ‘Don’t Put Me in a Box (ft Nate)’; I realise that’s half the EP but what’s a girl to do?  With simple and catchy hooks, you’ll find yourself humming along to the tracks and being taken along on the journey into Kayosouls world.

My personal favourites were ‘Dancing in the Rain’ and ‘Another You’ featuring the distinctive sound of Miss V and Emily Kay.

For his first foray into the music business Kayosoul has produced a really enjoyable EP that we'll have on rotation all summer long! We look forward to seeing what he does next!

To get your hands on the EP head over to iTunes

Keep up with Kayosoul on twitter, facebook and youtube!





Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Opinion piece: Diversity...yeah right!




Disclaimer: let’s just call this a rant and rants are not always coherent...as you were :)


As a fashion observer, over the last year or so I have had a topic on my mind. To be honest I didn’t want to voice it because I felt maybe I was being unfair and presumptious in my judgement.  But in light of the latest Burberry revelations and the Tommy Hilfiger thing, this issue came back into my mind. I did a post on it once on the blog but I think I may have deleted it....anywho

What’s my issue?....Vogue Italia. 


When Vogue Italia decided to do the ‘All Black Issue’ I was one of the people who registered to receieve a copy, I didn’t get one, no biggie though. Fast forward a couple of weeks/months (don't quite remember) and the launch of vogueblack on the vogue italia website.

When I saw this I was sooooo upset! I couldn’t help but see it as segregation. Why do we need a separate site for black people who love fashion, aside from the colour of our skin we are no different from white, asian, Hispanic, oriental people who like fashion. The fact that black creatives were put on a separate section immediately made me question ‘so are they not good enough for the main site?’ 


I didn’t see this website as positively celebrating black people I saw it as a way of appeasing black people. Don’t get me wrong I think it’s always good when people are given a platform to showcase their skills and talents. But the way this was done doesn’t sit well in my spirit. Other little things about the site I do not like is that they do a fashion week street style just featuring black people, I went and checked on the main site to see if these people were there also...shock shock horror..they weren’t, seriously?!!! Style is style, you either got it or you don’t! If they are good enough for the black section they should be good enough for your main section.
I get it, vogue was responding to the cry for diversity within the fashion industry (which also saw the launch of voguecurvy) but separation is not diversity. You can’t say we are being diverse, but all the black people you stay in that corner and all the ‘plus size’ people you go in that corner, it makes no sense.


I’m tired of the way fashion uses black people and black culture as if it’s a trend...WE ARE NOT A TREND!!!

*drops mic and exits stage right*

Join allaboutgoodmusic




Last summer Blackgirlflow attended the allaboutgoodmusic event in Manchester where we got to see some really great people perform live, including Daley, Shakka, Tony As and AKS. Ever since we’ve been keeping up with the allaboutgoodmusic collective because they are doing fabulous things for up and coming musicians. In their own words –


 

allaboutgoodmusic is

a BLOG
online TV channel
award winning EVENTS organiser/promoter

Across these three platforms we promote the music of emerging and established artists.
ALLABOUTGOODMUSIC?
Since becoming established two years ago we’ve attracted an international following, been rated amongst the “top ten UK Music Blogs”, interviewed artists such as Ed Sheeran, Dwele,Wretch 32 and J Cole, and won an award for our live event that features emerging artists and musicians from across the UK, including Daley, Misha B and KOF.
Our collective includes Bloggers, Journalists, Presenters, DJs, Radio Broadcasters, Film-makers and Event Promoters who collaborate in different ways to produce entertaining and engaging content for our audiences.

They are now looking for people to join their fabulous team. So if you love music and want to be part of what they are doing, head on over to their website to find out more!!


Monday, 16 April 2012

Review: Mahogany Naturals - Rhassoul Cocoa and Honey Deep Hair Treatment


A few weeks ago I purchased some products from Mahogany Naturals UK. I’ve been on the search for a deep conditioning treatment for a while now, so I decided to get the Rhassoul Cocoa & Honey Deep Treatment and whilst at it I also got the Shea Hair and Body butter.




Ingredients: Purified water,Rhassoul,Raw honey,Organic cocoa powder,
Unrefined cocoa butter,Organic aloe vera,Extra virgin olive oil,
Slippery elm,Guar, emulsifier,essential oils

I decided to get this conditioner because I know my hair responds very well to Rhassoul Clay and the product has lots of other goodies in it too. The blurb on the site says: 

This stuff is super luxurious and melts any tangles away.
Stops breakage in its tracks (up to 100%)

Great for finger detangling,
Can be used weekly as a Spa hair treatment.
Let it sit in your hair for 30-90 minutes before you rinse out.
Suitable for all hair types



HOW I USED IT

I applied the product before detangling, put on a shower cap and conditioning cap and left it in for 30 minutes. I would have left it for a longer, but I was doing my hair at 1am *sigh*.


WHAT I LOVE


It smells amazing! Like instant chocolate before you add hot water and the honey also gives it a sweet smell or a bit like éclairs (the sweets) actually.

It’s easy to apply – the product goes on really well, it’s not very thick but it’s a really good consistency. It feels a bit grainy, which could be a result of the clay, but it was easily washed out.

My hair felt amazing – once I rinsed the product out my hair felt so soft and my strands felt really smooth, I couldn’t stop touching my hair. The best thing is that my hair still felt good for a couple of days after!

It made detangling a little bit easier (kind of) - I have a ‘tough’ patch in the middle of my head which always takes longer to detangle than the rest of my hair, but with this product in the process was a little bit easier. I think if I’d left it in for longer it would have had a greater effect.

It’s made in England! – as a self confessed youtube addict, I always see our American sisters talking about all these great products that we can’t get over here, so it’s so good to be able to support a UK business!!


WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE


It’s pricey. A 250ml container costs £19.95, and the suggestion is that you could use this product once a week. I used nearly 100ml of the product on one wash so if I were to use it once a week I would be buying 2 of these a month – not very cost effective.
My suggestion would be to mix it with other products your hair might need or just use it less frequently. 

All in all, I loved this conditioner and will be purchasing it again and trying some more of their products!

If you want to find out more about Mahogany Naturals, you can find them on Facebook and Etsy.

If you've tried Mahogany Naturals, tell us what you think in the comments!




**UPDATE** - Tope, of Mahogany Naturals, was kind enough to give us a discount code to share with all of you! You can get 15% off any full price purchase from her etsy shop by simply entering the code ‘blackgirlflow15’, the code is valid until the end of the month! Happy shopping folks!