4 October 2023

Black History Month 2023

Saluting Our Sisters across the Creative Industries

From a glamorous African Princess who nursed the sick at Guy’s Hospital, to Mona Baptiste, the honey-voiced blues singer from Trinidad, 2023’s Black History Month is Saluting Our Sisters. This year’s theme will be celebrated across the UK in October with inspiring events being held in all regions as well as Greater London. And if you’re yearning for some serious discussion as a main course, then head to King’s Cross where the British Library is hosting some fascinating talks packed with information, education, and inspiration.

 

Meanwhile, here at mustard HQ, we’re shining a spotlight on Sisters who are leading lights in each division we work within. If you’ve been wondering who’s forging new paths in your industry, look no further…

 

Taking Marketing and PR to the Next Level

mustard MD is starting us off with the impressive portfolio of Ifeyinwa Frederick. We’re not quite sure where to start with this unstoppable woman, so we’ll dive straight in – Ifeyinwa is not only a playwright and screenwriter, but also founded Chuku’s with her brother Emeka. In case you’ve been studying microbes in Antarctica for the last decade, Chuku’s is the critically acclaimed (as well as the world’s first) Nigerian tapas restaurant.

 

Prior to starting Chuku’s, Ifeyinwa had no hospitality experience. Undaunted, and proving the naysayers wrong, she’s become an industry pioneer, and is listed in Forbes’ 2018 list of 100 Female Founders in Europe to Follow. She then went on to win the Food Sharing prize in 2019’s Young British Foodie Awards, and hasn’t stopped since.

 

A lot of Chuku’s success was achieved through Ifeyinwa securing notable UK press coverage with major players such as Vogue and the FT, with yet another recent spotlight in Time Out. Still not convinced? Well, Ifeyinwa’s branding and communications strategy not only helped the restaurant to survive the pandemic and its after effects, but secured support from no less a megastar than Beyoncé. Case closed!

 

Interior Design Excellence

Interior design is up next, and mustard ID is putting forward Eva Sonaike. Owner of one of the most standout London-based lifestyle companies out there, her name is also her brand. As a business, Eva Sonaike sets itself apart by using African-inspired prints and textiles for stunning fabrics and luxurious accessories for home décor, fashion and interior design.

Eva herself has made it her mission to deliver vibrancy and colour everywhere, from private homes to a $42m design project for the Kanuhura Maldives resort. Her exclusive designs grace the homes of clients in London, Germany, South Africa, Switzerland and Hong Kong. We wouldn’t put it past her to have a cushion or two somewhere in Mongolia, so successfully has she conquered the world of interiors.

Eva Sonaike

Influencing the Architectural Industry

Moving from interiors to exteriors, our next stop is built environment. For 2023’s Saluting Our Sisters, architecture has one obvious leading light – Ghanaian-born British architect Elsie Owusu. A RIBA Role Model, Elsie is a star turn in a context in which just 1% of UK architects are Black. Amongst her reflection-worthy achievements are co-leading the refurbishment of the UK Supreme Court and London’s Green Park tube station.

 

As a Specialist Conservation Architect, she’s built new paths in an area that’s becoming increasingly important in the BE sphere. One headline-hitting example was her collaboration with artist Sir Peter Blake to design a low-energy house. To cut a long story short, the frame was factory-made in six weeks and assembled on site within three days, after which the interiors were created. Et voilà, a modernist house in Hackney was born.

 

And mustard BE’s favourite quote from Elsie?

“Some people can be defensive when you talk about inclusion, seeing it as an implicit criticism when actually it’s just an invitation to join the party.”

 

Pioneering in the VFX industry

Moving over to mustard FX, we’re taking a trip across the pond to look at what Lauren Ellis has been up to. Within the industry, no introduction to Lauren is necessary, but highlights of her VFX career include working as the senior visual effects producer on Ballers, Queen Sugar and The Walking Dead (‘World Beyond’). Add to this her current role as Executive VFX Producer at Industrial Light & Magic, and you have the definitive definition of success. Lauren has some great tips and thoughts recorded during this Academy Museum of Motion Pictures presentation, The Work of Black VFX Artists.

 

The video also features the contribution of arguably the greatest pioneer for Black women in the VFX industry, Audrea Topps Harjo. Her list of credits is way too long to fit in here, but major head-turners are The Wolverine, Man of Steel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and the vastly underrated Prometheus.

 

If you’re reading this and thinking that the British Isles could do with some of that, then we couldn’t agree more. If you’re just starting out, then the UK already has Access VFX, which will provide you with a mentor and all the information you’ll ever need to make it in the industry. This brilliant organisation reaches out to all ages, starting from primary school. Believe!

 

Renowned Exhibitions

Last but not least is our mustard XP division’s nomination. We’re totally in love with what Aindrea Emelife creates in an exhibition space – we’re talking contemporary art with a focus on questions surrounding colonial and decolonial histories in Africa, transnationalism and the politics of representation.

Her latest exhibit was christened Black Venus: Reclaiming Black Women in Visual Culture, which showcased the work of 18 Black women and non-binary artists ‘to explore the othering, fetishisation and reclamation of narratives around Black femininity’.

The exhibit featured at Somerset House, which seems to have missed a trick by ending it on 23 September. We’d like to give them a shout-out, however, for one of their current exhibits, The Missing Thread – Untold Stories of Black British Fashion. The Missing Thread does include Black male designers, but also features the work of Bianca Saunders, whose label won the 2021 Andam Grand Prix Fashion Award.

Black Venus

 

We hope that some of these amazing women have given you some inspiration. If you’re ready to burn your own path towards glory in any of the featured industries, then our mustard teams are keen to get to know you. If you’ve got a business or project needing talent and enthusiasm, or indeed you’re the one with the talent and enthusiasm, then we’ve got the jobs and candidates.

 

Finally, our own advice is this: If you want it, and you’ve got the goods, nothing can hold you back.

We’re at the end of a phone, so call any of us in MD, XP, FX, BE, and ID on our hotline – 0117 929 6060.

 

 

 


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