CompoZer Spotlight: Doreen Caven

Meet Doreen Caven, one of three of the fantastic trio behind the budding brand, Caven Etomi. This beauty took time out to speak with us about the brand's inner workings, humble beginnings, and the part she plays in making the garments and visuals come to life! 

What role do you play in the CavenEtomi trio? 

I am a co-creative director of Caven Etomi. Our company is so small that we, the co-founders wear multiple hats. Alongside my partners, I oversee production, brand management and social media management. 


You have spent time both stateside and abroad in Africa, describe the difference of feels both places give you.

I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and moved to the U.S at age 16. I have lived in America now, almost as long as I did in Nigeria, I would say that both places feel very much like home right now. Nigeria has such a strong sense of family. I would say that being home you interact so much more with people around you that are not your immediate family. There is that strong connection between people- even while out here you have that same kinship when you run into fellow Nigerians. That feeling of comradery is something that you don't find as much here in the states.  


What were you doing before you decided to develop your line of clothing?

I was in grad school, getting a Master's degree in Epidemiology. I also was a Fashion & Lifestyle blogger for The4acesdate.com.


What is one misconception people have of you?

I am an introverted extrovert. I am a social person among my group of friends and social media captures that aspect of my personality. Most people meet me and expect me to be more outgoing and outspoken, and I am mostly just shy, quiet and reserved. I get "You are not what I thought you would be" ALL the time. 


Which collection has been your favorite up until now? Why?

 Our IDIA collection has been my favorite and it's because it was our first introduction to creating the brand, Caven Etomi. We spoke about creating a product all the time, but had no idea when we would  have the time to do it since we really all had very different lives and lived in different cities (D.C, NY & Lagos). We wanted a desirable trendy product that had African influences and something that would be appreciated by both Africans & International fashion lovers alike. Creating our first samples of the IDIA collection was a very awesome moment for us. We had no idea if people would love it, understand our concept, or if they would be moved to actually purchase it. We had no solid ideas on how to promote it, we at the time only had our own personal social media accounts. We uploaded a selfie wearing the T-shirt to all our accounts and we had multiple orders that day. We didn't even have a website or a way to purchase it. It galvanized us to realize that we had a shot. We went back to the drawing board and constructed a business plan and decided on how we wanted to produce, distribute & brand our company using this first collection, and the rest is history. 


If you guys could collaborate with anyone on a particular product, what would that product be, and who would it be with?

I would like to collaborate on a line of African inspired Apparel for a huge brand like H&M or Target. I think it would be amazing for an African designer to have that opportunity to be the storytellers of contemporary African Fashion in a global market.


What is your favorite part of creating a visual from a simple thought?

My favorite part is seeing it come to life. From a mockup design to holding a finished sample or a campaign concept to seeing it in print, I just love seeing an idea come alive. 


What is your definition of a composer? Do you feel as if you exhibit those characteristics?

My definition of a composer aligns with my definition of a creative. I am a creative so yes, I feel like I exhibit those characteristics. Making desirable ideas come to life is a huge part of working for Caven Etomi. 

You can find out more about Caven Etomi here:  cavenetomi.com

Follow Doreen in IG: @doreencaven

CompoZer Spotlight: Ndidikanma Emefiele

Very rarely do I get startstruck. However, I have been completely captivated by the artistry of Ndidikanma Emefiele! I am so gracious that she has allowed us to get to know her! She is one of West Africa's freshest sensations and is definitely putting Delta State (Nigeria) on the map. Ndidi gave us the opportunity to speak with her about her journey and training as an artist and even how she feels about social media in conjunction with her brand. 

Give us a few sentences on your professional background and/or training.

I am developing my practice both in the studio and in my academic pursuit. I'm currently running a master of fine arts at Slade in University College London. I do have some exhibitions lined up so I keep working basically, I love making arts. Immersing myself in the intriguing world of art it's informing and transforming. Its beauty worth engulfing oneself in.


When was it that you truly started to take your creative talents seriously?

Seriously was quite early. It was when I began participating in local art completions, realizing making art was something I didn't grow tired of doing, even at my lows. I was truly passionate about it and it was imperative so I sought to pursue it long term. Emerging top place at the most prestigious art competition in the federal capital territory when I was in my last year in secondary school sort of solidified my reason and was the confirmation for my parents to pledge their full support.


What are your origins/roots? Are you a Nigerian? From which state?

I'm 100% Nigerian. My both parents are from delta state.


Of all the places (studios) your art has been shown, which one would you say is your favorite? Why?

Hmmm.. that would be most recently at Woburn, which is the research and development centre at Slade. Where I had a painting of a woman's naked body covered with a transparent floating tulle skirt pinned to the floor by tubes of paint. It certainly wasn't my usual way of displaying my work, I had always stuck to the conventional. Being at Slade is definitely challenging some of those notions and ways of doing so I will be trying a bunch of things in the coming months.


You have such a unique aesthetic and a lot of your paintings give such a realistic but abstract depiction of women. Are you inspired by any particular person to create these images?

I'm inspired by real experiences, often I employ themes of fantasy derived from facts in questioning the representation of women in diverse context. As a woman interaction with other women enables you to see from different perspectives on the pressures women are often confronted with the social, cultural to religious, often very constricting and raising questions of identity, enslavement, empowerment . I like to use images, collages and forms to reframe the image of the woman.


How much influence do you think Africa gives the entire art world from photography, sculpture, painting, ect?

Africa plays a major role. African arts has an immeasurable depth, it spans through centuries unaccounted for,imbedded with history and cultures of a people so dynamic it has been a resource and inspiration of artist of old including the great Picasso.in fashion as well, it has been a good resource.african and tribal prints is currently the biggest thing on the runway,brands like Burberry, Galliano and so many others have incorporated that into their designs. Some of the most iconic photographs of national geographic were taken in Africa. You wouldn't find culture so rich and diverse else where. Nigeria alone boast 250 ethic groups. Africa has an enormous reserve from which you can continuously draw and has long served as an inspiration.


What message could you give a budding artist or any creative wanting to truly pursue their craft?

l'd say let your passion for it motivate you, it should be the driving force. A fellow artist given a talk once said "if you struggle to make art,then stop it. Find something it else to do".let your art be a true representation of you and your ideas. It should be self expressed. A lot of younger artist fall into the boat of trying to paint like some one else or making copy arts. Let others inspire you as you find you.


Are you a fan of social media? How do you feel it can hurt or help get your art out there for people to view? 

Social media has been instrumental in building and breaking careers. Although more of the positive I should think. It's an awareness tool ,and I cant say I have used it effectively in projecting my works. I'm a little old school and there's just too many social media platforms to keep out with. You are not done trying figure out how one works and it gets overtaken by another and unto the next. I'm active on Facebook as that was the first I got onto. Partially active on whatsapp, dormant on Instagram, still can't figure twitter out. I think social media is as good as you use it.

Me getting my life in front of an original at Nike Art Gallery, Lagos

Me getting my life in front of an original at Nike Art Gallery, Lagos


What is your definition of a composer? Do you feel you are one in your own right?

Well, may be now that you put it that way. I have never thought to consider making in relationship to composing. I have thought of my studio as the fitting room, a lab and many other things.thats where it all comes together. Perharps if one consumes or engages with the art as music then may be the artist becomes the composer. I remain an artist though.


Orange Culture presents "Alex"

When I think of Orange Culture I immediately reflect on youthful innovation. Youthful in its approach of relaying a message; in that it's distinct and clear while always remaining fresh and energetic. This brand has been able to capture the very essence of beauty because they highlight the magic in the details. 

Here we take a different #CompoZers approach and highlight an actual composition- the newest photo story from the brand titled, "Alex". Founder, Adebayo Oke-Lawal breaks down the visual and bring us into his realm. 

What inspired the title?

The idea that two people with entirely different characteristics could be totally tied together by a name . Both models for example - both their names are Alex. From two entirely different worlds and interests but in that moment when someone says the name Alex - they are one.

Give us more info on the theme of this story.

We wanted to explore the idea of youth . The freshness of individuality in youth. The choice to explore the softness of youth as a man and how beautiful it could be . We wanted to explore the art of soft masculinity in youth and how beautiful it could be. The idea of loving art , loving flowers , loving beautiful things as a young African man - all those things should be beautiful even as a man.

When you are deciding on the visual for a lookbook or campaign for Orange Culture, where do you start first?

I start with a moodboard really . I pull what I call inspiration journals - which you can sometimes see on my tumblr - images, music, words that paint a picture of what I am feeling and I present that to a photographer - if he feels the emotions I feel when I see those things - gbam! - the relationship to build that visual begins.

Do you have more fun creating visuals such as Alex or designing the clothes?

Nothing better than creating clothes . Visuals do excite me but the stories I tell through creating clothes cannot be replaced

Do you feel “Alex” is a composition? Why?

I do because I feel it composes of so many different pieces of Orange Culture / so many aspects of what inspires and builds orange culture as a brand - Alex is a composition of one of the pieces of the puzzle that is orange culture. Hopefully that makes sense. 

photography: The Bisbol Man

Follow the brand:

Website: orangecultureng.com  ||  IG: @orangcultureng

CompoZer Spotlight: Esmesha Campbell

Ever pay any attention to the credits before some of the articles from your favorite sites? Trust me, the words don't just magically appear on their own! Meet Esmesha Campbell, staff writer for Fashion Bomb Daily. Here she tells all on how she landed this great gig and gives us a peak into what the industry is like for a fashion writer. 

Tell us why you decided to get into (fashion) journalism?

EC: Well, first off, writing has always been a passion. Since childhood, I can remember keeping journals and penning my own stories. It’s a God-given talent that has allowed me to capture some amazing opportunities. With that, I kind of stumbled upon fashion journalism. Fashion has always housed a special place in my heart and I thought “Why not combine the two?” After Claire announced the possibility of bringing new talent into the Fashion Bomb team, I immediately jumped at the chance to work with her. I initially started working with Fashion Bomb Daily in 2014 – I began as an intern and eventually landed a permanent slot as one of the contributing writers!


What is the writing process for you? Are you given topics to write about or do you have free reign to speak on things in the industry that interest you?

EC: There is no set structure to my writing process and I literally write what I feel. The Fashion Bomb is set to focus on a diverse spectrum of fashion. So, many of the topics discussed are geared towards grasping the attention of women and men from all walks of life, particularly African-Americans. As fashion writers, we have the power to pick and choose what we post.


How has your HBCU education shaped your development in your field?

EC: Wow! This is an excellent question. My time at Prairie View A&M University taught me the significance of taking pride in any and everything I set out to do. I believe my HBCU education also helped to cultivate this talent that I now rely on day in and day out. My professors were my backbone when it came to writing, I mean, there was never a time where they didn’t encourage me to pursue it – heck, my International  Relations professor even helped me get a job as a writing tutor! The positivity was like no other. I also believe there’s a certain confidence that HBCU alumni exude and I think it stems from the love and deep respect for their institutions. 


What do you think separates FashionBombDaily from other media outlets?

EC: As previously mentioned, Fashion Bomb Daily is a blog specifically designed for women and men of color. In comparison to other media outlets, it’s rare to find sites that cater to the needs and interests of our people. I think our blog fills a void that is evident within the blogosphere. Before I started working on the site, I was an avid reader and supporter. I loved the fact that I could log on and get lost in the multitude of posts! It was amazing. Not only did I enjoy the witty commentary and the women who looked like me, but I could relate as well and that was the fulfilling part. 


What is your end career goal? Does it even involve what you are doing now?

EC: Ultimately, my dream career involves fashion writing. I absolutely love it! There’s no greater escape than immersing yourself within your art. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up working with Essence or Ebony! The sky is the limit. You know, life is funny. We, as humans, go through phases of growth. When I graduated college, I had an idea of what I wanted to do with my life but I wasn’t happy. Of course, I felt accomplished but that overwhelming sense of uncertainty was killer. Now, almost two years later, I’m beyond proud. I’ve gone through so many jobs and internships to get to Fashion Bomb Daily and I’m sure there is someone out there living the same struggle but just know it’s temporary – change is inevitable. Don’t be afraid to pursue your passion. Trust me.


If someone wanted to do what you are currently doing as a writer, what advice would you give them? 

EC: I can’t stress this enough but my advice would be to utilize every opportunity possible while remaining consistent in your journey. You never know where life will take you, I’m a living witness. Yes, the fear of putting yourself out there is immense but the reward is even greater. People will patronize you for chasing your dreams but you have to possess a strong sense of self in order to see your goals come to fruition. So, whether it’s taking that low-paying job as a student tutor or writing papers for a little extra cash, just know that you’re conditioning your craft for greater opportunities. In addition, I’d also advise up-and-comers to get out there and network! I didn’t truly understand the power of networking until I had the chance to collaborate with Tameka Raymond via Claire Sulmers. It was beyond surreal.


Besides people like Shiona Turini or Chioma Nnadi you really don’t see many black editors in the fashion arena. What’s your view on that?

EC: It’s crazy, we actually addressed this issue not too long ago on the blog. There is a lack of African-American representation in the fashion world, period. I mean, even on the runway, the same faces are constantly portrayed. Upon realizing this, it just serves as fuel for me. It’s motivation to continue this journey. Although these are highly successful women I look up to and revere from afar, it’s comforting to know that making it to the top is within destiny’s reach. I also see this as a clarion call to minority fashion lovers everywhere! Let’s get out there and make things happen!


What is your definition of a composer? Do you think you are one in your own right?

EC: A composer is an artist. A composer is “unique”.  A composer is brave. A composer is fearless. A composer is one who creates his or her own path. A composer is a rebel. A composer is innovation at its best. And, yes, I am a composer.

 

Connect with Esmesha! 

IG: esmesha_campbell