Wednesday, October 07, 2015

I had the pleasure of attending the launch of an exciting new fashion curating app; VERNEZ. The name alone transports one to their favourite foreign fashion capital, not to talk about the user-friendly interface. I was fortunate enough to be gifted £100 shopping voucher AND also get a unique code (ONYXSTA) for you all on BLEURGH to use to access the site exclusively. A personal invitation, if you will. However, my interest in fashion and style stops short there. What had my knickers in a tizz the most, was GirlBoss, Co-creator and CEO Moyang's story. I speak time and again about diverse practice, and welcoming change into your life, and Moyang epitomises that vision. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to privately interview her, so please read & absorb her wisdom. 
What did you study and do you think your prior study/experience had any bearing on VERNEZ?
I studied psychology and went on working as a psychologist for 6 years after graduation. It sounds very different from fashion, but actually it is so relevant that I still consider myself a psychologist now working on VERNEZ. For an app that unites different types of users and consumers together, it is all about understanding their needs and mindset, and then creating a platform that will make their life better.
Sleeveless Vest : LOVE Clothing | Crop Top : H&M | Pegleg Trousers : Thrifted

What was the biggest obstacle when creating VERNEZ?
There have been so many! Running your own start up business means that you have to do so many things yourself in the beginning. And as human beings there’s no chance for you to already know all of them. Learning new things becomes your everyday life. But at the same time you simply don’t have the time to learn everything. So the biggest challenge I had to face is to find that balance of learning and working with others.

One example is that when we were working on the first version of the User Interface design, we hired a design company but the result wasn’t good enough. It was very difficult to perfectly illustrate my vision to someone else because there was nothing similar to what we were trying to create. Accepting this difficulty, and keeping a strict deadline in mind, I had to learn Photoshop (which I had never touched before in my life!) and complete a new design in 3 days. The design wasn’t great, as you can imagine, but at least we were able to deliver the right user experience there, and kept the development work moving forward. Once we had this minimum viable product up and running, it became easier to communicate with professional designers, and in the following release we managed to replace the design with a much better looking one! It had received many compliments since!
What has been your experience of being a #GirlBoss?
It wasn’t easy, but has been fun! My best reflection in the process is about understanding how important it is to be yourself, and to continue becoming a better version of yourself. By nature I have quite a soft personality - easy-going, optimistic and very understanding to other people’s perspectives. As an entrepreneur and a leader of a business, often people expect you to be tougher and stricter, as if this is the only way to get things done.

There were times when I tried to change, but that only made things worse because it didn’t feel like me and how can you expect people to follow your vision if you don’t even feel comfortable about yourself?! And that was when I realised how important it is to be myself. I believe my optimism and friendliness helped create the foundation of our team culture - hardworking but fun-driven. And my understanding to people’s perspectives allowed me to show others how their actions will bring us closer to the end goal. I believe the best team is when everyone takes control of own targets and feel that they are contributing to the business.

There's competition out there,  how does VERNEZ stand apart from its fashion curating app counterparts?
We stand by our users' dreams, and help them achieve it. Other fashion apps are very much focused on shopping and finding personal styles. While I believe these are important, and we indeed overlap to an extent, we want to connect with our users deeper. I am talking about the millions of creative minds out there eager to voice their opinions on fashion, style and culture. We want to unite them as a community, and join forces to move the fashion industry forward.
Fur Bag : DIY | Watch : Guess | Brogues : Miss KG
Sum up VERNEZ in one word?
Empowering. VERNEZ is about empowering the creative minds to make an impact! Empowering its readers to feel more confident about themselves. And empowering fellow startups and entrepreneurs to never give up on making the world a better place.
Be empowered. VERNEZ


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"it aint that serious" is one of my most used phrases, and there's some truth to it. I've found with adulthood comes responsibility, bigger decisions, smaller social circles, and more wahala than the content structure of my BLEURGH posts will permit. Choosing to indulge in the magnitude of the woes, however, is a personal preference. I was invited to the preview of Joe Browns' A/W 2015 collection pre-fashion week, and was thrilled to learn the night's theme was a 'blogger fun fair'! Roaming the room and mingling with other bloggers, I soon found a link between the theme and life. Indulge my musings.
Studs : Turkish Market | Choker Necklace : Wallis
You see, life is like a fun fair. Having not attended one for a while, I'd lost the thrill of youth that's birthed upon attendance. The ticketing at the gate is akin to the academic validation one needs to propel to the heights of the professional job market i.e. university/ higher degree qualification. The sheer excitement that builds as you move closer to the gate, can be likened to the feeling close to graduation, or that interview call-back. Then once you've received that ticket (degree), you'd assume entry would be smooth, however, there's order; a queue. Entry is manned, and theres a rigorous verification process, which is like the checks and balances adopted in an application process. The constant need to prove yourself. This can be a trying time for some, you begin to question who you are, your worth, the reason for the length of time.
Joe Browns' Blogger Fun Fair @ Bar Soho
Finally, you're in! You're among your peers in the throng of it all. Basking in the glory that comes with being the select few who've broken into this party of life. You see people from all walks of life here, old and young, black and white, and you feel happy to be among them. The rides themselves, as much like the various tests and experiences we encounter in life. The big dip which propels you to the summit, and untimely plummets you back down to earth is akin to those who've experienced redundancy having bagged their dream job. You're excitedly climbing up the career ladder one minute, taking in the sights and suddenly, the carpet is pulled from under you and you find yourself right back at square one, only feeling worse than when you began. The big wheel which spins you round and round is akin to those in dead-end situationships, whether it be a job, relationship or friendship, you feel as though you've been through the motions and have seen it all...done it all...heard it all. Its time for a change. Time to disembark, but you've committed to a certain time with this particular ride and must see it through to the end. I understand, this can be hard, but seek solace in the fact that it will end. It may not be in your time, but it WILL end. 
Me & Molly munching and mingling at the Blogger Fun Fair
Thanks to social media, we are a generation of observers. We love standing on the sidelines and seeing what X is up to, and what Y bought recently. That's all well and good, but what are YOU doing? Where are YOU going? What's next for YOU? These are all important questions, and ones that I am fond of asking myself, especially as I experience my quarter-life crisis (post coming soon). You see, just as in a fun fair, we cannot know exactly how a ride is, just by watching its current occupants from the queue outside. Neither can we guess how we'll feel purely from the shrieks and exclamations of said occupants. We can only truly know by going on the ride and experiencing it for ourselves. Millennial life has blessed us with the opportunity to learn from experienced mentors in our fields, to learn from the mistakes of previous entrepreneurial efforts, or bask in the glory of successful peers via their status updates and what have you. However, experience is the best teacher. 
Shirt : Blanco (Gran Canaria) | Ankara Top : DIY by Mother | Blazer : Husen Moda (thrifted) 
Waxed Jeans : Wallis | Fur Bag : DIY | Boots : Dorothy Perkins
Most importantly, I must drum in how important it is to just live in the moment! As expressed above, there are peaks and pits to the fun fair of life, but nothing beats the experience of it. I am often envied for my outlook on life, and my choice to try this concert, or enter this competition, but the truth of it is: if not me, then who? Why not you and why not now? You can choose to be depressed that your boyfriend walked out on you right when you lost your job and could no longer pay the rent for your new flat. Or you could look at it as an opportunity to try again, do it better, and build some solid relationships in the process. I'm no optimist, and this is extremely hard to do, but it CAN be done. Choose today to look upon your situation with a fresh perspective. 
"Its kind of fun to do the impossible" Walt Disney

Life's a Fun Fair

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

It took me less than 2 days to devour Lauren Groff's third novel, Fates and Furies! Groff's dissection of a 24-year long marriage (or more deserving title; partnership) between two fresh-out-of-college 22 year olds Lotto and Mathilde "living morally, cleanly, living in love" (Chapter 4 (Fate)) is apt, glorious and inspiring, to say the least. Groff tampers with the idea that great marriages are ridden with secrets, omissions, truths left unsaid. A clear deviation from the age-old notion that transparency is the true bond to a successful union. The novel is made whole by bringing 2 broken parts - each starting afresh with its own Chapter 1 and a new perspective - together with an omnipresent authorial voice in square brackets. Groff explores gender biases, power, sexuality, classism, among other provocative themes in this stellar novel. It came as no surprise that Fates and Furies featured time & again on 'must-read' lists by Stylist, Glamour Magazine, Emerald Street, as well as being longlisted for the National Book Awards, and I was honoured to find it among my burgeoning pile of review titles ahead of its release this month. So without further adieu...
" finding your greatness" Chapter 3 (Fate)
Dress : Konga c/o MetroGypsie | Heels : New Look | Bag : Moschino (similar here)
"Life was rich with possibility. Or life was possibly rich" Chapter 4 (Fates)
FATES - Narrated by Lancelot Satterwhite aka Lotto, this half of the book is light-hearted, whimsical and hopeful. Doted upon first by his parents, and then by his wife, Lotto never experiences the hardship of adulthood/ manhood, and this is expertly conveyed in Groff's writing (but we wont come to recognise this fact until much later). Strings pulled behind the scenes and sacrifices made in his absence, Lotto lived as a child all his life. Youthful exuberance blinds him from defeat as his acting dreams post-college leave his wife as the sole breadwinner, and his ego crushed, until a night of genius revelation where his true purpose arises in self-pity's wake. Vanity, ambition, and fame deafen failure, loneliness and egotism. Pride is restored, and fills the cracks in their marriage. Much like in life, when we find our true calling, all the trials, tests, and struggles of our past can be viewed as 'character building' in retrospect. 
"The wife is the dramaturge of the marriage, the one whose work is essential to what is produced, even if her contributions are never directly recognised...there's an essential difference in genders that isn't politically correct to mention" Chapter 7 (Fates)
A RAAW Theatre production at The Actors' Centre, Tristan Bates Theatre
"the rudiments: the stories, the moral rigidity, the mania for purity" Chapter 2 (Fates)
FURIES - Narrated by Mathilde, this half of the book is dark, explorative, and starkly truthful. We see fact for once was broad-brushed as truth. Characters that once shone from within, are blindly thrust into the criminal spotlight. Mathilde directs the play of their love stories enigmatically, pedastilising her self-sacrifice as matryr-like, showcasing the ways she dedicated her life to the advancement of Lotto's. Our lives are much the same, with maturity shatters the illusion of the allure of adulthood. What we once saw as castrating actions of parents, can be considered noble in retrospect. Groff contrasts Lotto's privilege with the harsh reality of his life behind the scenes, the strings that needed to be pulled in order for his success ("Lotto was tall, smart, rich. [White.] Boys like him were meant to be leaders" Chapter 2 (Fates)) to appear seamless. Ironically all puppet masters were indeed mistresses, from his Muvva to his wife, Lotto "was born wealthy, white and male"Chapter 3 (Fates) and knew not what struggle meant if it smacked him dead in the face; his "privilege is what lets [him] take risks" Chapter 5 (Fates). Unfortunately, we are not all ascribed such a luxury and must work as hard as the latter half of the novel to reap reward in our adult lives.
"Grief is for the strong, who use it as fuel for burning" Chapter 2 (Fates)
View of St Paul's Cathedral from Madison's Bar, London
"despite her politics and smarts, she had become a wife, and wives, as we all know, are invisible" Chapter 7 (Furies)
Fates and Furies courts its reader and rips our expectations apart, when the layers of truth peel back to reveal our notion of reality, a farce. The thirst for deeper discovery as fate gives way to fury, love for calculation, and ambition for luck, leaves the reader famished at its conclusion. Much like life, what we perceive as truths when young, parade as hallucinations in adulthood. Ambitions and fairytales cast out and replaced with rejection letters and broken hearts. Lotto and Mathilde's love story seems illusionary yet somewhat ideal. Its an anti-thesis to a romance novel in this day & age, omitting wistful gazes for lustful glares, infidelity for devout faithfulness to monogamy. Yet, we see their perfect union shattered in the latter part by the rocks of humanity; flawed. Alas, we can seek solace in its length, its normacy; its imperfect perfection. 
"If one might die at any moment, one must live" Chapter 2 (Fate) - Fate and Furies

Fates & Furies

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

London Fashion Week is upon us and its customary, as a female blogger, to dedicate a post to the new season of style. BLEURGH has never quite fit the customary mould, so I will indulge you. Fashion, style, beauty, even skincare are interests that are all too frequently dismissed in the academic/ intellectual circles - often regarded as being far too frivolous (bearing in mind the male counterpart - football - is common place hot topic in such settings, but I digress). However, stay late enough in the ladies, or hover long enough over a shoulder, and you may just be invited into the inner caucus of stylish discussions that escalate suddenly around September. 
Shirt : Blanco (Gran Canaria) | Jacket (reverse) : Burju (also worn here
Skirt : Designed by me, tailor-made in Nigeria (also worn here)
Photoshoot by GnBri Photography (Pic 1 & 2) on the porch of OXO2
Fashion Week and all its shenanigans was once reserved for the elite or fashion conscious alone, but thanks to Devil Wears Prada, social media, bloggers and genuine #FOMO (post coming soon), Fashion Week's ins-and-outs have become common knowledge. Interest in such was birth in our youth, with tween magazines trailing the must-wears and circling the shameful attires of the style-less. Now in one's prime, its critical to know what to try, what flatters your figure, and what colours will be in. Whether its what your favourite star is wearing, or what trends will trickle down to the high street, Fashion Week is a must on one's radar since the online millennia struck because it affords us an inside scoop far before its fully throttled down our throats by fast-fashion stores. 
The Bloggers' Fashion Week Collections & Catwalks
One of the questions on Sunday's #lbloggers chat (from 7-8pm every Wednesday and Sunday) was whether bloggers still posted original content? Or whether our posts were just clones of one another adapted to suit our target audience? Pardon me if I'm wrong, but BLEURGH has never quite fallen in line (which would probably explain its inability to 'blow'). Thus, I have always gone against the grain to discuss socially prevalent issues in a unique & thought-provoking way. Surely that's the purpose of having and writing blogs; finding and marking out your voice online.
Gifting Lounge with freebies from Berry White; Maison Ves; Miglio; Heaven Skincare & more
Being a life and style (or lifestyle) blogger allows me to weave between heavy topics, while juxtaposing it with stylish imagery of my #OOTD, and thats what tells BLEURGH apart from its competitors. That being said, the blogger market is saturated with many young people sharing that same vision for a platform to discuss prevalent matters, while still indulging in material interests such as style or photography. One need only attend an event during fashion week to see this. 
Studs : Swarovski | Necklace : eBay | Watch : Guess | Heels : New Look
Blogging allows you to belong to a community in an increasingly individualist western culture, and this is magnified somewhat during fashion week. Not to say we all roam around Somerset House/ Saatchi Gallery clone-like on a conveyer belt, rather Fashion Week indulges us mere mortals in another world of finer luxuries, beauty, style, and all things glamorous. Full immersion in said world gives us a unique sense of being a part of something different from your average 9-5. It is with this feeling bloggers run to their laptops and respective desktops to document its inner workings, leading readers to yawn at the duplicitous content we may churn out. Bear in mind however, the awareness being raised, the sense of inclusion such posts build...and revel in Fashion Week with us! 
"Every year...women...leave the past behind and look forward to the future. This is known as Fashion Week" Carrie Bradshaw - Sex & The City

Bloggers Love Fashion Week

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

A while back, one of my readers contacted me to commend me on a well-written post which resonated with her. We exchanged kind words, and she shared a dream of hers; to create a platform for Nigerians in diaspora to connect online, share ideas, and inspire one another in their various endeavours. I spurred her on, and without taking any credit for its fruition, she contacted me 6 or so months after to inform me she'd bitten the bullet and Nigerian Network Community was born. I expressed my interest in being a part of such a great initiative & she invited me to share my experience, motivations and career aspirations in a frank interview. Please read below and show Monsurat some love here.
Shell Top (tucked - croptop) : Marks & Spencer | Ankara Maxi Skirt : DIY (similar here)

Could you tell us a little about yourself?
It feels like the start of every interview but I will broadly brush over my history by stating I was born and bred in Nigeria & moved to the UK when I was 9. Since then, I have studied law (professionally qualifying and being called as a barrister in 2013) and pursued a career in rights advocacy. I have worked both in the UK and Nigeria advocating for equal gender rights, and the eradication of harmful practices such as FGM, domestic violence, honour marriages and maternal mortality.
What inspired you to choose your career?
I don’t speak much about this, but the thought first struck me prior to my move to the UK with my family. I remember running under a market stall during the riots following the assassination of President Abacha, frightened that I would be killed by the open fire of military trucks parading the streets in broad daylight. It struck me: why are the people meant to be protecting us, posing a threat to us? Or a more elementary version of that sentence. That’s really what kept me motivated; the injustice and inequality that’s rife in all parts of the world.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Gratitude a client expresses when I intelligently convey their interests in court. People take for granted the need for legal services in this day & age. We understand we need a doctor when we’re ill or an engineer to maintain the basic amenities we’ve grown accustomed to, but the need for a lawyer is constantly played down, as evidenced by the drastic cuts to legal aid. Court is terrifying, and if you haven’t trained as an advocate and don’t have the paperwork ready, it can be a daunting process. Being able to assist litigants-in-person is so rewarding, and I hope to help on a grander scale in future.
What have been the challenges?
Pupillage, and the pedantic nature of the legal course.
Where would you like to see yourself in a couple of years from now?
Legal or rights advocacy on an international scale. I have come to accept the fact I am quite the romantic, and I idealise what it would be like to live in a better world. I think its possible, but others may not. It is up to me, in that case, to do my very best to prove it is. That means following through with my words, and helping to serve others through my speech, writing and other skills.
You are also a very vocal activist on women issues and empowerment, which is a running theme on your blog (BLEURGH). What inspired you to advocate on this issue?
I remember the first time my oldest brother asked if I was a feminist? I was genuinely outraged that he would think such a thing! I have since come to educate myself on that term, and seen that I have always been an advocate for equal gender rights (which is fundamentally what a feminist is), right from childhood. I was the ‘stubborn’ (Nigerian parents don’t like the word “no”) daughter who would pinpoint the difference in my upbringing time & again; why was far more emphasis placed on my culinary abilities than my brothers? As I grew older, I saw this same inequality mirrored in the education system and the workplace, and I thought it silly for us to sit on the side and complain, yet do nothing to effect change.
In what other ways have you advocated for women rights and if not do you plan to do so?
In Nigeria, I worked as a gender rights’ advocate and developed initiatives to tackle gender based violence in rural communities, and appeared in court to assist with injunction applications on behalf of female victims based on new legislation. I led workshops in other cities (Ogun, Osun, as well as Lagos and Abuja) illustrating the need for the implementation of solid legislative frameworks to protect women from discriminative practices such as child marriage and FGM.
In the UK, I volunteer as a McKenzie Friend and assist litigants-in-person in courts seeking injunction applications to protect their home, children and selves from perpetrators of domestic violence.
Stud Earrings : Topshop | Sandals : TJMaxx (similar here)

There’s certainly an awakening, and openness, on the sexism and discrimination women face in Nigeria with popular trends like #BeingFemaleinNigeria highlighting this. What are your thoughts and what more do you think needs to be done both home and in diaspora?
I love being a woman, and there’s a general misconception that this youthful uprising of females challenging the norm in Nigeria and advocating for equal rights is on the premise of hating what we are and wanting to be more like men. Sexism is the root of all the wahala we (as a gender) face; from polygamy being accepted in certain tribes, child marriage, adultery, high percentage of female-illiteracy, to name a few. We can close our eyes and pretend these issues don’t exist because we have the luxury of education to cushion the blow, but speaking honestly, we still experience it in one way or another. The extent to which might be relative, but speaking up via social media, and actively seeking to rectify it by challenging the norms within our respective families first, is the best way of changing gender-based discrimination in Nigeria in future.
A large number of young Nigerians abroad are becoming openly more in touch with the country and culture which was not so years ago; what are your thought on this?
I love it! I remember once claiming I was a 1/5 Brazilian or was it 1/6 American? All in a bid to ‘fit in’. Now our younger counterparts proudly choreograph dances to Afrobeats songs for school talent shows; I’m proud of how far we have come!
Do you think it’s important for young Nigerians to be connected and how do you think a community like NNC can support this?
I think it’s very important to remain rooted to our culture, and maintain ties to Nigeria and Africa at large. Building a community like NNC allows one to keep abreast of the issues that affect us as a nation, yet still experience authentic Nigerian life in our respective cities by connecting with others in diaspora. That’s the beauty of the current millennial age; we need to embrace it.


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