The Ayika‘a project
The term « AYIKA‘A » comes from Yoruba, a dialect spoken in West Africa, mainly in Nigeria. It means sphere / environment. A word that perfectly fits our convictions and perspectives. Our goal is to promote black and mixed-race beauty in an environment that does not recognize its true value. We wanted to change the spelling of the word by adding a second “A” for “ART”: fashion is an art. But sadly it is a western art that often lacks variety and diversity even in 2017.
◊ Ayika’a as solution
Therefore, how to overcome the under-representation of black and mixed-race women in the fashion industry and more widely in the media ? Here’s the problem that was obvious to all of us and that led us to conceptualize the Ayika’a project through out our conversations.
The Ayika’a project not only aims at representing black and mixed-race women in a fashion context. It also aims at changing minds by offering a new societal and conscious approach. Indeed, it is not only about highlighting black and mixed-race women. It is a matter of arguing and discussing together about the society we live in to find ways to improve it and make a better tomorrow.
◊ The beginning
Once the foundations of Ayika’a were established, a casting was launched on the social networks in order to recruit young women who might be interested in future shootings. Quickly, the choice was made not to solely recruit professional models for this project. It was important for the entire team that women who would one day look at our photos, feel represented. That women could identify with the 26 girls who were selected.
Even if the project started from scratch, our initial idea being to take photos ourself as amateurs, it quickly was on the rise and ended up appealing to fashion professionals. Therefore we are contacted by a makeup artist, a hairdresser and even a professional photographer ! Once our team was complete, the shootings could begin.
Long and rough days spent with hair styling, making-up, managing the styling and putting at ease the women who shot for the first time. The mission was not easy. Thanks to the hard work of a motivated team and the goodwill of the young women, happy to participate in a project that is so important to them. We managed to reach the expected goal (see our Gallery).
Ayika’a’s aspirations are beyond fashion, but also beyond human convictions and values.
◊ Join the movement !
Fashion industry, professionals, amateurs and even supporters, come and join what could be a large-scale movement. This project is as much ours as yours and it is only united (white, black, Arab, mixed or Asian, men and women) that we will be able to build a better and fairer society in which visibility doesn’t mean white, thin, or perfection.
If you find yourself in what you read, do not hesitate to contact us here
Ayika’a change the minds !