12 Nov Blog Post: My ‘Stylist Live 2017’ Experience.
The first time I saw the advert for the 2017 Stylist Live three day event I leaped in excitement. I knew for sure I wasn’t going to miss it for any reason. The high point for me was the line up of inspiring speakers for this year’s event. From bestselling authors to respected voices in the industry, there never could have been a better way to spend my weekend.
I got tickets for the three days but between working in IT project management and running Blanck and my home, there’s barely enough time in the world to dedicate a full three days to the event, so I settled for the Saturday event. Did I have the time of my life or not? TOTALLY!
A small confession- one of my main reasons for attending the event was to meet the best selling author of the book ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ Rene Eddo- Lodge. The first time I saw her on the cover of Stylist Magazine my heart exploded with excitement and it was not only because she was black and Nigerian but the validity of her experience and the bravery of the stylist team who made the decision to put her on their cover. That issue is about the only one I picked two copies of . One for my office and the other for my bedside. I made sure to display my office copy boldly on my desk until I was sure my colleagues noticed ( hehehe too petty).
So, back to Stylist Live, having missed out on the Friday event, I lost any hope of meeting with Rene. I then decided to just attend the event and roam about for as much and long as possible then go home. I had no inclination that Rene was due to chat with Clara Amfo at the Grow Stage about the discussion themed ‘How to be brave: speaking up against racism’ that even. So, this is me wondering about the very beautiful arena ( totally loved the decorations and layout of the space) and next thing I hear this very loud cheer coming from the Grow Stage Arena.
I dashed there to feed my interest- Lo and behold I see Rene on stage ???? I was like woooohooooo – Christmas just happened in November Hahahaha. Anyway, I listened to Rene and Clara yesterday and was greatly inspired by their bravery, their poise, their articulation and intelligence. Everything they talked about left marks on my mind. I felt empowered- I wanted to be them. I wanted to wield thesame power- the power of knowing. Knowing who they were and what they stood for. Delivering a message of bravery and courage and boldness to be unshaken in ones resolve to speak and stand up to racism.
I’ve been a victim of racism on a major scale and when I took on the battle against my manager, people thought I was crazy. My fellow people of colour distanced themselves from me- they didn’t want to lose their jobs but I wasn’t going to stop until an investigation was initiated. My manager at the time had secretly implicated 5 black people in my department and frustrated them until they were forced to resign. I was the sixth person on her list.
So, once I saw the pattern- I promised to be the last person she would touch. I followed the investigation through until the management found out the truth and wrote a letter of apology to me. Even, though she wasn’t dismissed as a result and I didn’t pursue any compensation for being forced to stay home for months as a result. I felt some kind of fulfilment. Having had so many close shaves with racism in my less than 5 years of living in Britain, you can totally understand why I was so chuffed about seeing Rene.
After the talk, I resumed wandering about again. This time, I went towards the pop up shops and there I stopped to chat with Bushera Bashir, the creative mind behind the Trebene brand. After a brief chat about her very lovely pieces, we exchanged numbers with plans to feature her and her brand in Blanck. I then continued my sojourn through the pop up shops and there I stumbled on a queue of people waiting to get their books signed and that was how I onced again saw Rene- this time up close. Super excited about this, I quickly went to the Waterstone pop up bookshop to get her book and guess what? They had sold out ?? while I was sad for myself, I was happy for Rene. It said a lot about the level of acceptance she had received so far.
I joined the queue irrespective and while there I met two of the most amazing people. The very beautiful Singer and actor Shingai Shoniwa and the prolific and gorgeous singer and songwriter Ming, these ladies whom I eventually spent the rest of my stay with before heading home at 7:30 pm.
It felt really good talking to Rene, I asked her how she summoned the courage to write a book this controversial and she said “ what’s there to lose? I’m a freelance journalist, I don’t report to anyone- there was nothing holding me back. The truth had to be told”. I introduced her to Blanck and what we are trying to create with the brand. We talked about a potential feature and she told me how to reach her. At the end of the day, I felt so happy with my decision to attend this event. Even, when I attended for just a day out of the three- I cannot be much more happier with my experience.
From drawing a picture of Blanck on a plain stylist cover to creating a giff image of myself at the Google studio using the pixel 2 phones. Attending the catwalk and letting loose in front of the super cool DJs my Stylist Live event was absolutely rewarding.
Apologies for my long post. I just keep going when i’m Super happy. See below some of my random unprofessional pictures from the event.