Photos are not mine. Credit to owners.


I want to first address what has transpired over the past few weeks. I’m sure all of us are aware of the protests that happened all over US and some parts of Canada. I want to be clear that I stand with the BLM movement and all of my BIPOC peers. I’m not coming here to tell you what I feel and think because it’s not my voice that needs to be heard. Those spaces are for the Black community to use. Instead, I want to come here to highlight individuals and brands that has inspired me over the years.

BROTHER VELLIES | AURORA JAMES

Photo grabbed from @Aurorajames Instagram Page [https://www.instagram.com/aurorajames/?hl=en]

Definitely one of my favourite brands. Obviously, the designs, aesthetics and overall brand image is great, but what inspired me the most is Aurora’s goal to preserve shoemaking crafts in Africa by creating jobs in there and showcasing those craftmanship in an international scale. It is something I aspire to do in the future.
Over the past week, Aurora also launched an initiative called #15PercentPledge where she called for major retailers to pledge 15% of their shelf space to black-owned businesses. As of today, Sephora is the first one to take pledge.

Photos grabbed from @Brothervellies and @15percentpledge Instagram Page [https://www.instagram.com/brothervellies/?hl=en] [https://www.instagram.com/15percentpledge/?hl=en]


SHAMI OSHUN 

Photo grabbed from @Shamioshun Instagram Page [https://www.instagram.com/shamioshun/?hl=en]


I first came upon Shami Oshun on twitter when somebody I follow retweeted a video of her colour-changing Bev Bags. The said bags are 3D printed and comes in different changing colours. I implore you to look her up (especially on Twitter) to see what her products look like in daylight. She also recently launched Nude Fashion Masks—a mask for all different skin shades and tones!
Her brand is definitely one to follow and I think she’s a designer to watch especially when it comes to Fashion and Technology.

Photos grabbed from @Shamioshun Instagram Page [https://www.instagram.com/shamioshun/?hl=en]


HANIFA | ANIFA MVUEMBA

Photo grabbed from @Hanifaofficial Instagram Page [https://www.instagram.com/hanifaofficial/?hl=en]


Speaking of fashion and technology, here’s another brand I came across recently. With the lockdown and all, a lot of fashion people wonder what the industry will be like in the near future? How will luxury brands adapt when fashion shows are cancelled? Anifa Mvuemba knew what to do. Hanifa is a contemporary RTW brand that held a 3D virtual fashion show on Instagram Live last May. I was blown away by the innovation and design aspects of the collection. The whole presentation was just *chef’s kiss* and I just knew then and there that no other brands could ever! Truly a big step in the future of fashion!
You can still watch Pink Label Congo Collection show on their IGTV!


Photos grabbed from @Hanifaofficial Instagram Page [https://www.instagram.com/hanifaofficial/?hl=en]

OMISART | NAOMI ESAYAS
Photo grabbed from @Naomiesayas Instagram Page [https://www.instagram.com/naomiesayas/?hl=en]

Naomi is one of the upcoming stylists in Toronto that has easily become one of my favourite creators. If you check out her Instagram, you can see the creative works she’s done as well as brand collaborations. My favourite thus far is her work at Evio Beauty (see below!). She also shares her styling tips and lookbooks on IGTV when she’s not busy curating photo shoots. I’m excited for her and I can’t wait to see more of her!

Photo grabbed from @Naomiesayas and @Omisart Instagram Page [https://www.instagram.com/naomiesayas/?hl=en] [https://www.instagram.com/omisart/?hl=en]

SPACE VINTAGE 
Photo grabbed from @Spacevintage Instagram Page [https://www.instagram.com/spacevintagexo/?hl=en]


One of my favourite vintage clothing stores in Toronto! Hands down! Not only do they carry a great range of vintage selections, they also have the best store vibes! By that, what I mean is they always greet their customers with such a warm welcome that whenever I go in there, my mood just instantly goes up! This does not only apply to me of course, I’ve seen customers come in there and get their spirits uplifted by staff and for that, I became an instant fan! When I spoke to Natasha Roberts, owner of Space Vintage, she told me that one of their values is “People over Profit” and that was so evident in the way they treat anyone who comes in to their door in Kensington Market.
Right now, they are about to launch their online store, which in my opinion is long overdue! Regardless, I am so excited to shop and to see what’s next for them!
Photo grabbed from @Spacevintage Instagram Page [https://www.instagram.com/spacevintagexo/?hl=en]

I hope these people can inspire you the way they inspired me. With everything going on, I think it’s important to use our platforms—no matter how big or small—to uplift others and to bring awareness in important social issues. I do, however, hope that we will continue to fight and demand justice for anyone who fell victims by the system.


Sign petitions! Donate if you’re able to! Educate yourself and be the change you want to see!