The mission of the MsAfropolitan Boutique is to showcase and offer a handpicked range of products made by African Diaspora women on a rotating basis. Visit us here.
As part of my journey to achieving this goal, I’ve met such inspiring women whose stories I want to share with you in an interview series feature.
First up is Hazel Aggrey-Orleans, the designer and founder of London based fashion label Eki Orleans.
There are so many reasons why I love Eki Orleans, but perhaps the main one is that I find the clothes & accessories consistently playful and bold, whilst also being elegant and sophisticated.
I’ve picked my favourite silk scarves for sale in the MsAfropolitan Boutique.
After a busy September with Eki Orleans showcasing their designs at London Fashion Week, October sees Eki Orleans at Camer Couture, a prestigious event putting the spotlight on African designers in Shoreditch, London. Eki Orleans will also be at the Shell African Network dinner, a joint dinner raising funds for Ndoro Children’s charities.
For the latter event Hazel has asked me to wear one of my freelancer hats and model. Watch this space for me wearing some of the fabulous designs.
How would you describe Eki Orleans in one sentence?
A design esthetic best described as young, fresh, feminine and elegant simplicity.
Could you share an exciting development currently taking place for Eki Orleans?
Wow! At the moment we have a lot of exciting activities taking place but I would say our highlight was showcasing during LFW last month. Now that this is over our next big projects are collaborating with 1-2 TV Channels. We can’t give away much yet until it is aired.
What does the term Afropolitan mean to you?
Using your own interpretation of African culture and translating it into fashion, in our case.
If you could pick one known African woman that you think is inspiring, who would she be and why?
Waris Dirie is a true inspiration to me. She lived a nomadic life in the deserts of Somalia and at a very young age of six suffered the horrific genital mutilation. This didn’t stop her, instead, she grew to become a very successful model and writer in NY and has now devoted her life to fighting this archaic ritual.
I have friends and acquaintances who come from privileged backgrounds, yet they often complain about this or that situation. I always tell them to stop looking for excuses but rather look for ways of improving it, as no one puts up these barriers but yourself.
There are so many women like Waris who come from underprivileged backgrounds but make it to the top. I find these stories incredibly inspiring and this is what gives me the drive to succeed.
Is there any particular element from your Nigerian culture that you maintain in London?
Yes! My love for rich colours spite the constant grey weather here in the UK (although….. tell a lie, the sun is shinning today!!).
Do you have a favourite post on the MsAfropolitan blog, and why?
There isn’t one particular blog I prefer over another. I do love the style of writing though. It isn’t your cliche type blog – the content is cleverly put together and also there is a range of topics to interest everyone. What I find most striking is that the blog is able to challenge your views.
What inspired the name for your business?
Eki Orleans – Eki is a shortened Benin name and means ‘Centre of Attraction’. With the vibrant and intricate patterns, you can’t go unnoticed and so this name is very fitting for our brand.
Where do you discover new designers?