Earlier this year, when schools were still open and was taken for granted, for I did not foresee homeschooling as a reality, I had the opportunity of sharing my “treasure” with my 8-year-old son and his classmates.
Treasure is one of the topics covered as part of the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) that focuses on archaeologists’ findings, linking it to other learning objectives in History, Geography, Art and Technology. Subjects that did not receive much attention during my primary education but I believe are incredibly vital in gaining fundamental understanding of our global world with her rich and diverse cultures. I was particularly thrilled when Mr Beattie, my son’s teacher invited parents to share with his class what we considered as treasure.
I jumped at the chance of sharing my story, the creation of this social enterprise; UnikBlends, which was discovered while living through one of the darkest periods of my life for pain cannot always be avoided but when embraced can become a beautiful catalyst for learning and change.
Reframe, Rediscover and Reinvent
All too often, powerful experiences emerge from embracing the pain that confronts us when faced with discomfort and disruption. Life is narrow & uncertain and responding with default reactive and autopilot actions only make us miss the opportunities that arise from new challenges. This I realized some years ago when I had a ruptured appendix and narrowly missed death. For a while I was very angry. Angry and upset because I did not accept my own responsibility to create a meaningful body of work that is rooted in my purpose. Afterall, I was busy with what everyone else defined as classically ‘important’! But I forgot to live, to have a life that is nourishing, strengthened and sustained by own unique identity, roots and values.
Thankfully, my recovery led way for self-retrospection. I had an awakening in which I realized I had limited time to effectively live a fulfilling and authentically happy life. Though this period was painfully difficult and confusing, I slowly and intentionally reframed the story I was telling myself by reminding myself of what truly matters, of what I love, cherish and treasure for amid the darkness, even the tiniest ray shines through. My passions, priorities and projects became clear to me, I was suddenly reenergized and hopeful, I had hope in the certainty of the impossible because I could start again in reinventing my story
…. and you are most welcomed to enjoy the story which I shared with Mr Beattie's class.
It started with my traditional wedding attire, which was made from an indigenous handwoven fabric known as "Aso Oke" in Nigeria and for a while upon relocating to The Netherlands, were abandoned in the attic.
Then one day, on a typical depressing Dutch weather (grey clouds, rainy & windy), I had a spark and considered brighten my home. While I may not be able to change the weather out there, I certainly could do something about my immediate indoor surrounding.
So, I converted part of the attire, firstly into cushion pillows and the rest into wearable outfits.
The more I thought of it, the more I saw clearly, the unlimited opportunity of saving, restoring and preserving "my treasure”, my unique African textiles, by giving them a new life in a whole refreshingly new way!
Due to this venture, that truly started about 5 years ago, gorgeous African Headties known as "Geles" which are commonly used at Nigerian weddings are repurposed into zerowaste bags and accessories.
With a few but distinguished and talented artistains, whom I love working with, we offer others a means of transforming their preloved clothing (treasures) into customized items that are stylish yet functional, thus extending their lifespan. This also helps in promoting transparency in ethical, consciously slow clothing as a means of combating climate change and its adverse consequences.
The idea of combating climate change with sustainable style that is repaired and repurposed, is linked to the fact that most of our daily clothes are made from synthetic fibers, which are essentially plastic, resulting in polymers that pollutes and degrades the environment and has other negative social and economic aspects.
So, now you know my story, which was born at a time I least expected it, share with me yours or how you are transforming this present moment with the coronavirus pandemic. For I believe we now have the opportunity to slowly reimagine new possibilities and then gradually, make it happen!