fashion interview

Introducing Fashion Designer Kunmi Oni: the founder of 1964 Brand

Kunmi Oni is a Nigerian fashion designer based in Lagos, and the founder of the minimalist clothing line, The 1964 Brand. Kunmi, as a child, has always been artistic. After university, her mother, Felicia, ignited the passion in her to create her brand. Three years and five collections later, Kunmi Oni’s brand stands as the ultimate fashion brand for her chic millennial audience or, as she likes to call them, her 1964 women. 

Kunmi Oni’s story is that of determination, perseverance, and success. Throughout her story, Kunmi shares her inspiration to create, her challenges, recent collections, and the love she receives from her ’64 girls. According to her, “our brand grows because we have an amazing community of ‘64 girls who root for us daily.”

C: You have grown quite a community around the 1964 Brand. Can you tell us the story behind your brand? What inspired the name?

Kunmi: The name 1964 was inspired by my mum, who was born that year. The entire brand was created to honour her memory as she was the one that encouraged me to start the brand and gave me all the resources I needed to start when I was fresh out of uni and could not get a job.

C: On your About Us page, we saw that a woman named Felly inspired the 1964 Brand. Is Felly your mum? 

Kunmi: Yes, yes! Felly is short for Felicia, which is my mum’s name, and as I mentioned earlier, 1964 was inspired by her. Our design choices reflect the kind of clothes she loved to wear.

C: Have you always wanted to design dresses? When did you first realize you wanted to create women’s clothes?

Kunmi: There was no defining moment for me. I’ve always been good with my hands. I also express my creativity in other forms like blogging, drawing, and photography.

C: Who is Kunmi Oni? Tell us something that people do not know about you.

Kunmi: Hmmm, I’m not sure there’s any.

C: Who is your target market?

Kunmi: The 1964 Brand is for women who are big on self-care and would choose comfort over glamour when it comes to their style and fashion choices. 

C: What is the 1964 brand message to her market?

Kunmi: Always seek to create ease around your life every day. Prioritize your self-care and mental health above all else, including when it comes to your choice of clothes. 

C: Let’s talk a bit about your 1964 community. Have there been any challenges? Do you feel people got the 1964 Brand message?

Kunmi: Well, when we initially started, I was afraid that Nigerian women who are our primary market (we are based in Lagos) might not be able to relate to the brand message because Nigerians are generally “on the go.” But over the years, as we keep telling our story, more women, including women from all over the world, have been able to relate as they are now choosing a life of ease and comfort and seeing them join the community makes my heart full.

C: Your designs are brilliant. What inspired you to create such designs? Tell us about the Meraki and Rebirth collections.

Kunmi: Every 1964 collection tells my story. MERAKI was created at a time when I was in a dark hole, and creating clothes for 1964 women was the only thing that kept me going. MERAKI represents creating with soul even when people and life want to discourage you. Our REBIRTH collection is our most unique collection to date. It tells the story of the 1964 woman: a woman who puts her mental health and self-care first, who pushes through and reinvents herself no matter any setback she might face in life. 

C: What feeling would you say the 1964 brand evoke in your audience?

Kunmi: A feeling of self-love. A feeling of community and a feeling of being part of something bigger than just selling clothes.

C: Can you tell us something that a customer has said to you after wearing your designs that you feel describes your clothes quite well?

Kunmi: Yes, yes! I had someone send a message to me once saying our pieces are the most beautiful and comfortable clothes she has worn in a while and, this made my heart full.

Kunmi Oni’s collections are available to cop on her website and Afrikea (For free worldwide shipping). You can also follow The 1964 Brand on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

Creatives Around Us granted permission to feature photos by Kunmi Oni


Sheila Adufutse: The common denominator for building communities is collective exploration

Life is possible with communities: intentional communities who have a common goal to explore life genuinely.

Sheila Adufutse

Sheila Adufutse is many things – intelligent, sophisticated, soft-spoken, affectionate, and a leader of tribes. In 2017, Sheila founded the Ghana Reading Community to encourage young Ghanaians to read a book and also have a space to dissect what they read. Driven by the intensity to inspire collective awareness and support for women, Sheila started ‘Sister is a verb’ in 2019. In the same year, she founded Travel Tribe Ghana (Traveltribegh), a travel group for old friends to reconnect and one where strangers can build new, lasting connections. 

Below, we speak with the community leader about the tribes she’s building, the stories behind them, and the challenges she’s met on the way.

C: Can you tell us a bit about yourself, how you started Traveltribegh, Sisterisaverb, the Ghana reading community, and what inspired these communities?

Sheila: Introductions are always so hard for me. Like where do I even start from? LOL.

Yes, I usually describe myself as someone who deeply feels and cares about herself and the people around her. I wholly love the simplified complexities of life and consciously attempt to live with ease – in the best way I can make room for.

I am passionate about organic community building and working together to explore the best way we can thrive. These three communities came out of this passion I sacredly nurture in the depths of my heart.

When I think about it, I believe the common denominators for these three communities are presence, care, collective exploration, and learning. Life is possible with communities, intentional communities that have a common goal to explore life genuinely.

Traveltribe Ghana came to life after envisioning a life of travelling with friends and strangers. I visualized a possibility of strong bonds of safety and care built between people because of these trips. I went on a journey to Lome – Togo with a group of friends and strangers sometime in 2019, and we all did not return the same. Something shifted in my life from that trip, and I wanted more of that. Genuine and deep connections are built, and there is always something new to learn by exploring new places with people. The joy of exploring a new and different area helps us understand how we can each care for ourselves in unfamiliar spaces. We put a lot of thoughts into planning our trips to ensure the safety and comfort of everyone. Most importantly, we encourage people to be free and be in the best way they know how to.

I was a part of an online book club called ‘The Read Club,’ started by Michael, an incredible Nigerian man, four or five years ago. We had physical meet-ups planned for people who lived in the same cities, and it was very transformative for most of us. With time, The Read Club halted the online activities, but as the space was good for many of us in Ghana, I felt inspired to create a book community to suit the needs of the young millennial Ghanaian.

With the help of other brilliant minds, we narrowed the scope of the reading community to read and engage with books written by people of African descent. Currently, we are working towards being present in all the tertiary institutions across the 16 regions of Ghana. 

Sister is a verb started as an experimental space for young African women to explore how to be intentional about caring for the self and learn how to support other women. It is a space for the everyday young African woman to breathe and thrive outside of all projections of what a young African woman should be.

My small group of friends inspired this idea. I am grateful for the comfort and support that I get from being in spaces with women who go through life similarly as I do. I realized quickly that, unfortunately, not every woman has access to such communities. I wanted to replicate this intentional space on a larger scale to broaden the accessibility so that other women can potentially experience and benefit from the offerings of being in a community with other sister friends.

C: What inspired the name, ‘Sister is a verb?’

Sheila: I came by that phrase in the book written and gathered by Adrienne Maree Brown called Pleasure Activism.

Writer and social activist Toni Cade Bambara taught me in the book that “Sister is a verb”. This phrase has guided this meaningful idea for women to take a bold, intentional, and nurturing step towards each other – which essentially should reflect in actions.

The idea narrowed down to how young African women can explore how to practice combined care and nurturing. I have a firm belief that our collective resources and presence are adequate to support us to thrive as women.

We are reminded that;

Sistering is intentional, and it takes practice.

Sistering is holding hands and affirming one another.

Sistering is being present.

Sistering is holding space.

Sistering is tough but doable.

Sistering is guidance.

Sistering is figuring out sistering.

Sistering is the food our soul craves.

Sistering is what saves our lives.

Sistering is indeed what we do consciously.

C: Are these communities only for people living in Ghana, or do you plan to expand outside Ghana?

Sheila: Currently, sisterisaverb is open to all young African women.

Traveltribegh is open to everyone living in Ghana because we mostly do local travelling within the country, but hopefully, we’ll be going to different African countries starting this December.

Ghana Reading Community is also open to all Ghanaians.

C: What is one thing that you consider a win during your journey, and can you share with us any challenges you’ve faced along the way?

Sheila: A phenomenal win for me is that I approach life with a sense of sincerity and vulnerability that is sometimes hard but necessary. I have been very much intentional about this, and even though living this way comes with its challenges, it makes you confident in the intentions of people who choose to walk towards you. It has helped me find myself in the company of people who share in the life I envision. It makes it easier to take each day at a time because you find yourself in a tribe that supports you every step of the way.

A challenge I would say would be juggling the nurturing of these communities alongside staying devoted to my professional 9 to 5 life. It has not been easy, but I am slowly finding the tools to help me make things easier and stay consistent.

To join any of these communities, send a message to the social media platforms, and Sheila and her team will take it from there.

Ghana reading Community: Twitter | Instagram

Travel Tribe: Twitter | Instagram

Sister is a verb: Twitter | Instagram

community creatives

Tunde Onakoya’s Slum Chess Dream

– “It is possible to do great things from a small place”

Tunde Onakoya is changing the communities around him one chess piece at a time. He runs Chess in slums, an organization that teaches vulnerable kids how to play chess, and he’s sharing the individual stories of the children he’s coaching. Chess in slums came alive in the slums of Majidun, Ikorodu, Lagos when he met Basirat, a five-year-old child who wouldn’t let him go until he gave her a piece to hold.

Two years down the line, with a hundred kids successfully trained and thirteen children on lifelong scholarships, Tunde Onakoya keeps defying all odds by reaching into different slums to give a chess piece to underprivileged children.

This recent tournament happened at the heart of Lagos. A low-income community, tagged ‘the floating village of Makoko’ or ‘the slums of Makoko’ stilts in a lagoon off the Third Mainland, where Tunde Onakoya discovered Ferdinand, a child battling spastic cerebral palsy. According to Tunde, Ferdinand outperformed everyone at the training centre a few minutes into learning board arrangements.

Using the classic chess movie “The Queen’s Gambit” as inspiration, Tunde worked with his team to make suits for the children who participated in the competition. “We had a revolutionary idea to make suits for the boys and dresses for the girls,” Tunde wrote, “to tell a new narrative of children in the slums that is not just one of poverty, but an image of what is possible if they’re given equal opportunities to excel.”

After two weeks of chess lessons, chess in slums organized a tournament to celebrate their excellence, and Ferdinand won with a phenomenal performance. “In those two weeks where we taught him chess, I never heard him speak an English word,” Tunde says. “but on the final day of the tournament when he held up his trophy, he muttered the word ‘champion’.”

During the period they stayed at Makoko, Tunde and his team profiled about a hundred children who do not go to school, and they are launching a campaign to get them back to school to establish a chess centre in their community.

According to Tunde, ‘a slum is just a place. It doesn’t define the people who live there. This is why we must be relentless in our fight to create an equitable future for these children who have been marginalized for so long.

To let them know that their dreams are valid too.”

Tunde is using the game of chess as a framework to promote learning and enhance intellectual development amongst vulnerable children.

The Kashope Photography: Website | Twitter | Instagram

ChessinSlums: Linktree | Twitter | Instagram