Ask Biki…

Ask Biki...

Ask Biki- Civil Wedding African Style


Dear Biki

I am planning to have a civil wedding in NYC this Fall and would like my African culture to be reflected in my outfit.  However I don’t want to look like my parents, i.e I want to look youthful and stylish.  What do you suggest?

Thank you, Patricia


Dear Patricia

First of all- congratulations!  And now how to ensure that your African culture can be perceived in your ensemble without looking like you are a few decades late to audition for the Imani Izzi, ‘Barking dog, African princess’ role in ‘Coming To America’.

To suit the formality of the event, I would advise you to wear a fitted Ankara print dress, with a tailored jacket that has a matching block colour tone.  Jewel By Lisa, is a Nigerian label that has put a luxurious spin on Ankara print.  The brand’s modern take has seen it infusing cutting edge shapes, adding complimentary fabrics and embellishment onto the classic print, all of which will ensure that guests don’t confuse you with your mother on your special day-


Courtesy of Hauteafrica.comCourtesy of

 A great way to bring out your African heritage in a subtle yet powerful way would be through accessories– for e.g. wearing coral beaded jewellery, an ankara clutch bag or an ankara print fabricator

Ankara print fabricator, courtesy of


Courtesy of

Etsy also do a unique selection of African inspired jewellery

Courtesy of

If you are feeling particularly creative, you could also arrange for a gele to be tied on your head-

Courtesy of

Urbanknit also have a spectacular wide range of Ankara print clutches

Courtesy of

Furthermore, African hairstyles like small braids or intricate cornrows will bring out your ethnicity in a subtle and very attractive way.

To crown your look, I would advise on opaque tights (preferably black) and vertiginous stilettos

Enjoy your very special day! x


Ask Biki...

How do I set my Blogging Rates?

Yesterday evening was particularly exciting for me as for the very first time, I was approached by a company and asked my blogging fees as the company would like me to blog for their site.  This request couldn’t have come at a better time as whilst revising for my PR and Marketing and Consumer behaviour modules (for my CIM diploma), I can’t help but notice that a lot of emphasis is being put on Digital and Social Media.  Furthermore, if super brands like Burberry, GAP and Estée Lauder, are anything to go by- its the way forward.  So I’m more than happy to blog for as many brands as possible- only thing is I haven’t actually sat down to figure out my rates yet.

After reading the request from the company, I went to my fairy godmother-Google– to see what she had to say about the matter, but after typing ‘How do I set  my writing rates?‘ I was inundated with mostly irrelevant information.  Reason being, whilst there is a lot of information on how to set writing rates for traditional media– newspapers, magazines and the like, there isn’t much information about how to set rates for new media, e.g. blogging and web content.

There are so many questions I have for e.g.- is it better to charge by the hour, per word or per project?  With the current financial climate and with so many bloggers at the ready, what is a good rate to charge?  For now, I’ve decided to get the wheels turning by asking the few freelance writers/bloggers I know what and how much they charge and hopefully I will be able to work from there.  This may seem obvious, but as a freelancer it’s always a good idea to use various social media tools like Facebook and Linkedin, to connect with people in your field- at times like these, they can really come in handy.

Ask Biki...

What’s the hottest fashion trend right now? Doing business in CHINA

Lately, I can’t help but notice that 1 in every 5 fashion business article I read seems to be giving the deails of a  fashion luxury brand doing business in China.  For those of you who are unaware of this, let these facts wash over you-

  • In China, affluent customers are choosing luxury in every aspect of their lives according to a 7-counry survey of households earning $150,000
  • Prada forecasts that its sales in China are expected to double or even triple in the next 2 to 3 years
  • Sports apparle Nike Inc has set a target of boosting its annual sales in China to $4 billion by 2015
  • Much of Europe’s hyper-luxury sector is being devioured by China, one of the fastest growing emerging markets
  • Yoox Group, the Italian company that builds and manages about half the fashion worlds’s etial outlet (Armani, Marni, Dolce & Gabbana etc), was recently the first multi-brand e-tailer to launch a high-end multi brand boutique in China called-

Personally, what these facts tell me is that it is time for me to move shop to China and get a slice of the lucrative pie.

Ask Biki...

The Conflicting Motivational Words of Oprah Winfrey and Steve Jobs

I am not one for motivational speeches or bettering myself through the wise words of self-help books.  In fact, the recent trend on Facebook to put up ‘go get ’em’ status update phrases like, ‘Life is a gift, never take it for granted’, makes me want to regurgitate.  Repeatedly and Violently.

However, I couldn’t help but listening to the full length of this Oprah Winfrey clip, where she tells the story of how she got the big break in her career and what she learnt from that experience-

In my opinion she seems to be saying, when you want something so much and you have done all you can to obtain it and it still evades you, surrender and let it go; for often, God can dream a bigger dream for you.

When I listened to this clip for the first time, I tried to take in the words and felt I had to take in the words as they had sprung from the lips of the lady who is one of the richest, most successful and as a result, uncharacteristically; one of the most likeable and admired person on the planet.  Consequently, I felt that anything she had to say which could help me in my career, where try as I might- I have not got to where I want to be.

 However, I wasn’t sure that I could abide by her words and ‘surrender‘ and let my main ambition go.  Even though I could find similarities in how our all-consuming passions for our respective desires had led us to do anything we could to express that feeling; for instance Oprah decided to go against her father’s wishes and took a leap of faith and auditioned for a role in, ‘The Colour Purple’; and I went against my father’s wishes and gave up law (and turned down a full-time legal job) and decided to embark on a career in the fashion industry.  Despite these similarities and upon coming to the same end, i.e. not getting what we ultimately wanted,  I couldn’t and still can’t sing the ‘I Surrender’ hymn.

Recently, I was sent a clip which featured the late Steve Jobs, and I found myself drawn much more to the motivational words he had to say to the graduates of Stanford University. 

Whereas, Oprah Winfrey seems to say that when one fails repeatedly to get what they truly want, they should let go and surrender to a higher power.  Steve Jobs seems to be saying that life is too short ‘to let go’ of what you truly want.  He insists that ‘believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path and that will make all the difference’.  That belief is what has continuously pushed me in my quest to get where I need to be in my career and what ultimately took me from the financial security of a legal profession to the unpredictable world of fashion.  Furthermore, my quest to (in Steve Job’s words) ‘keep looking’ and ‘not settle’ made me move from one of the fashion capital’s of the world-London to one of the most well-known creative hubs in the world- Berlin.

On a side note, watching both clips from beginning to end makes me cry unfailingly- I guess I am a sucker for motivational words after all.  Watch out Facebook, my inspirational ‘Status Update’ is coming soon.

Ask Biki...

My Review Of The Labels, Pre-London Fashion Week Catwalk 2011 Show



On Friday 19th August 2011, I was invited to see the work of six emerging designers showcase their collections at 1 Rivington Place, London, EC2A 3BA.

As much as I love seeing the new work of designers, learning about the new talents coming out of London, I am always a bit wary of emerging designer fashion shows.  Reason being, I often see important mistakes that affect the overall lasting impression of the show or mistakes that harm the designer’s collection.  I understand that with an emerging fashion show, this one included, that it is the designers that contribute toward the budget and funding of the show.  And as well as dealing with their individual collections, they have to be heavily involved with other factors of the show which include- invitations, press, models and so on.  But the thing is, when press are watching a show or looking at an image from a catwalk show- more often than not, they don’t have all this background prep information so they can sympathise with the designers and more importantly the fashion industry is hardly known for its compassionate and forgiving nature.

I have to admit that my experience at the beginning of the Labels show didn’t start so well for the following reasons-

1. Having arrived as Press, in the seating arrangements of the show, I did not see any clear indication for Press to sit.  This is an important mistake because in fashion shows, press are supposed to have seats that can give them the best visual access to the show, as they are the ones responsible for writing and promoting the show afterwards.  To do that, we need to be able to see the intrinsic details of the collection.

2. There were no press packs on the seats at the start of the show to give an indication of the order of the show, the designers collections and so on.  Press packs were given at the end of the show, but again, it was a bit of a mission for me to get them as I had to do a lot of asking and running around.  Many fashion editors and fashion journalists would not do this.  Furthermore, upon receiving the Press booklet which gave details about each of the designer’s collections, I discovered that the collection details of one of the designers was missing.  The Press bag did have that designer’s card, but this meant that Press had to do more work to get the collection details of the omitted designer.

3. As the Labels show did not have press packs at the start of the show, a guest speaker led the audience through each the collections.  At this point, I have to say that fashion shows should really stay away from guest speakers/wannabe comedians at fashion shows.  And if you absolutely must get one, get one that is educated.  I couldn’t believe it when this particular guest speaker was introducing a designer’s collection, and after stumbling and bumbling the words uttered, ‘there are words here I can’t pronounce’.  Or when he said, ‘the toilets are…actually, I don’t know but I’m sure you will find them!’  With an emerging designer show there is extra onus to prove yourself and to present a particular high quality (which you want to be associated with your brand) and professionalism in every aspect of the show from start to finish.

I was particularly irritated that the guest speaker could not describe the designer’s collection in a fluent and coherent manner because with no press packs given at the beginning of the show, there was extra onus on the guest speaker to educate guests (and press particularly) on the background, inspirations and fabrics in each collection.

4. Models are often the bane of an editorial fashion shoot and fashion show, especially when there is no models budget as such.  Having said that, models can break or make a fashion show or shoot.  The sad truth is, when it comes to a fashion show, no matter how great the hair, makeup, and the pieces the model is wearing are.  If he/she cannot walk properly, is too short or has picked up cliché catwalk bad habits like – excessive jiggling, exaggerated posing at the end of the catwalk run, putting their hands perpetually on their waists-this can cause problems because it can be hard to get a picture that can be sent to established blogs and magazines.  Also whilst watching the show, these defects harm the overall impression of each ensemble the model wears, and as a result the designer’s collection is not seeing in its best possible light.

Overall I have to say that The Labels fashion show and everyone who took part in it are to be highly commended for the efforts they put into the show.  Throughout the event, I was torn between judging it as press and judging it as a guest/spectator. As the latter, I liked the innovative venue that was chosen, the idea of having a summer barbecue afterwards, the great tunes the DJ spun after the show and the fun people I met that night.  But as Press, I feel that the above negative observations I wrote about, have to be mentioned because partying and eating aside, having asked one of the designers why she chose to take part in the Labels show she mentioned that it was to, ‘establish her brand and build her client base’.  At the end of the day, the Labels fashion show was a business venture, so I hope that the organisers take my observations on board, as the better and more professional a show, the more likely its designers are likely to be promoted, creating a higher possibility of recognition and sales.

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