Have you ever seen the behind the scenes videos from a fashion show? The adrenaline, the exhilaration, the excitement tinged with fear? That feeling dramatically multiplied was how it felt to simultaneously conduct a pop up store, a fashion show and provide costumes for the parade at Manchester Day 2019, which had over 60,000 people enjoying the festivities in the city.
The day involved collaboration with over 25 creatives from models to make up artists (MUA's) to videographers to ensure the simultaneous events were a success. We kickstarted the day at 8am with us setting up our pop-up in Exchange square, our very first in the Manchester city centre. While doing this, our creatives started to arrive and the day got increasingly busy with a multitude of tasks including ensuring our models were pinned into dresses securely, doing editorial photo shoots across Manchester and discussing the day and the brand in video interviews.
To make this work, we had to split with Ronke handling the pop-up and Adeola co-ordinating preparations for the fashion show which meant we were spread thinner than ever on our busiest day since inception. It was exciting yet overwhelming and the greatest challenge yet.
You may be wondering why we took on such a daunting task. It is because we are driven by our passion to create a brand that makes a positive impact on the world. Cultureville goes above and beyond creating beautiful African print clothing. It is about investing in suppliers, tailors and artisans in local communities in Africa. It is a female led brand which works to empower African entrepreneurs by providing a platform to reach a wider audience. It is about changing negative perceptions of Africa and highlighting the beauty of African clothing and accessories to the world. The journey towards building Cultureville has been extremely challenging at times but our vision for change makes it an incredibly rewarding endeavour.
As we have grown on our journey, we understand that having a strong network of allies in the local fashion and business communities are essential. One key ally has been Manchester Youth Markets - an organisation that provides young entrepreneurs between the ages of 16 and 30 with trading opportunities and business support.
As one of the flagship summer events in the city, Manchester Day had been on our radar for a while but we didn't know how to get involved so we decided to reach out to our network to see if anyone knew how we could participate. With the assistance of Manchester Youth Markets, we secured a pop-up in Exchange Square which is one of Manchester's key landmarks and located next to Selfridges.
Another key ally, Kemoy Walker, leader of the Manchester youth group, KYSO connected us to Walk the Plank, an organisation which curates Manchester Day content. This introduction led to Cultureville providing 23 costumes (within two weeks!) for the Manchester Day parade and conducting a fashion show in St Ann's Square.
The day was a stunning celebration of our wonderful city and the people and cultures that make it so amazing. Taking part in Manchester Day was a significant milestone for Cultureville. We conquered the challenge of co-ordinating three simultaneous events to a large audience whilst managing a large community of creatives and showcasing the beauty of African culture to Manchester. The success of the event was made possible through every creative going above and beyond their defined role and we are incredibly grateful for every creative that played a part.
We especially want to thank the people that gave us a platform to take part in the event - Kemoy Walker, Walk the Plank and the Manchester Youth Markets.