GUBA Expo 2016 took place last month. Crowds gathered from all over the UK gathered at Charlton Athletic FC in South East London for the three day event. Day one included workshops, with some notable speakers leading the seminars. I really wanted to attend the talks,but due to work commitments, I was unable to attend 🙁
Showcasing their products and services, were a number of businesses, coming from as far as Ghana. The event focused, mainly on small and medium sized business who wanted to tap into the UK market. I was amazed by everyone I met at the expo, the passion for their products was most definitely evident and this was present in the level of detail and quality of the goods. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance of this fantastic event, and what a privilege it was. The impact on my purse was pretty unfortunate! I went with a budget and then I went and overspent!! My excuse, sorry I mean justification was where am I going to see an event of this nature again?
Guba Expo 2016-Event Background
GUBA Expo is one of the 4 strands of GUBA Social Enterprise. The initiative, founded by Dentaa Amoateng, seeks to build links between Ghana and the UK Events such as the GUBA expo aim to provide a platform for cultural diversity in the UK, whilst raising Ghana’s profile. The expo provided an opportunity for traders that may have not made it to Europe if it was not for the organisation.
I bought an amazing handmade woven basket at the GUBA Expo. That has been my staple accessory that goes to work and church with me, and it is admired wherever I go. Now you may think I just went off on a tangent, but there is a point. I purchased the basket from a gentleman who was based in the Accra Arts centre in Ghana. The Arts centre is a bit like a craft market, and I go there to buy gifts for friends and family to bring back. The vendors are self employed and I would say that tourism drives much of their trade. I loved the fact that the gentleman who sold me the basket, believed in his art, his creations, and his goods. So much so,he came to showcase them in the UK. Passion was definitely a driving force of the event, as it was shown by all of the brands present.
Why I attended
I was born and bred in London to a Vincentian father (St. Vincent & the Grenadines) and a Sierra Leonean mother. I would like to think I am in touch with both of these cultures, but I have always gravitated to more of what was African. When blogger This Leo Loves, shared the details of the event on Twitter, I just had the pop it in the diary. I was sooooo not disappointed! You have got to love social media. The power of the hashtag is strong lol, but you also have access and opportunities to connect with people who may not be in your immediate social circles. This is something I love.
There were a large number of vendors, too many to write about, so I’m going to focus on just a few. I will be collaborating with some of the brands, so watch this space!
I loved the presentation of these products. They looked like they should be in a luxury spa or department store. The packaging is simple, it’s clean and I got a Jo Malone vibe from the fragrances that were used. Now, being of African heritage, Shea butter also know as Ori was something that aunties would bring back wrapped in plastic. I was using Shea butter back in the 80’s but then it wasn’t really something attractive to talk about. Now we are living in a conscious time where everyone is loving natural products.
Madam Ori has taken this idea and Shea butter has got it’s sexy back (it never left to be honest!). The brand launched in 2013 and an array of natural products are available ranging from African black soap to beard oil. All the the products address specific skin concerns do there is something for everyone.
OT&O Home Interiors
In the words of Johnny Gill, my my my my my my, these rugs look good tonight. See what I did there? 🙂
It was an absolute pleasure to meet Tosin James-Odukoya, Creative Director and Rug Designer. An inspirational young woman, who I will be covering in a future post. OT&O was born when Tosin really embraced the creative gift she had. Being an HR professional, she held on to the 9-5 she considered to be stability. Once that stability was taken away,there was nothing to lean on, she was on shaky ground. Tosin took action although it wasn’t east, and using her faith, she was able to create ornate African inspired rugs and soft furnishings. I really loved Tosin’s why, so I just have to do a post dedicated to her and her brand.
This was the beginning of where I went over budget on my spending for the event. I’m not tight fisted at all, but I’m still paying off for my wedding, so I’m being owned by all of the costs associated with that. This is a London based brand, that started in 2011. All I can say is love, love, love! The pieces I bought were packed for my hen weekend, as seen on the pics below and on instagram. The vibrant colours and modern styles enchanted me and the fit of the garments were amazing. I am looking forward to the opening of the Gitas Portal boutique, I can’t wait! Massive congratulations to Gitas Portal, as some of their items are stocked on ASOS Marketplace. This is definitely, a GUBA Expo success story!!
Last but not least, we have Cessa, a handmade jewellery brand. The level of detail is absolutely stunning. On display were a number of statement necklaces that can only be described as fabulous. Each of the beautiful pieces can take up to 3 days to make. Cynthia Agyekum is another exhibitors who came all the way from Ghana. If you would like to find out more about her pieces you can email her,email@example.com
All in all, it was a great event. I really hope there is another one next year. Dentaa Amoateng and her team did an amazing job with this one, and I will definitely check out more GUBA events in the future