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L’Oréal pursues its growth strategy in Sub-Saharan Africa

Leveraging 25 years of research and innovation on African hair, L’Oréal is pursuing its strategy of reaching new consumers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

To build on this knowledge, the Group opened “The L’Oréal Institute for Ethnic Hair and Skin Research” in the United States in 2003, the first centre entirely dedicated to studying ethnic skin and hair. Additionally, a centre in South Africa enables the group to evaluate formulas for the specific needs of consumers in the region.


This expertise allows L’Oréal to offer tailor-made products that are adapted to different lifestyles, habits and levels of purchasing power. Softsheen Carson is one of the leading hair-care brands in Sub-Saharan Africa. Its Dark and Lovely “No-lye Relaxer” kit has become the world’s number one hair straightener. In 2013, L’Oréal acquired Interconsumer Products Limited’s beauty portfolio, whose Nice & Lovely brand is the body care market leader in East Africa. L’Oréal Paris, Maybelline and Mixa, among other L’Oréal brands, are also present on the African market.

Geoff Skingsley, Executive Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, stated:

“The beauty market in Africa is very promising for the Group. We aim to make L’Oréal the number one beauty company in Sub-Saharan Africa thanks to our expertise which enables us to offer consumers in the region innovative, affordable, high-quality products that match their expectations and needs.”

Sub-Saharan Africa’s middle class includes more than 300 million people (which represents 34% of the population) and could reach more than 1 billion people in 2060 (source: African Development Bank).


L’Oréal has three commercial hubs in the region: in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, which cover neighbouring markets. With 650 employees and two plants in South Africa and Kenya, L’Oréal sold almost 120 million units in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2013 (+52% on 2012).

In February 2014, the Group inaugurated “The L’Oréal Professional African Salon Institute” in Johannesburg, the first hairdressing institute of its kind in South Africa, bringing specific know-how of ethnic hair coupled with the latest global hairstyle trends from around the world.

Meet David Habben, a remarkable illustrator and owner of

In a previous life before I graduated in Journalism, I majored in Fine and Graphic Arts. One of my biggest inspirations and arts was MC Escher, the Dutch graphic artist I admire for his mathematical and yet totally imaginarily driven illustrations.

It’s a rare to find an art that provokes such a deep sense of wonder, whilst transporting you to a parallel universe. The kind of art that makes you read and feel emotion through its strokes pen strokes and pressure.

It’s been a while since I felt that way. That’s until I discovered David Habben, the illustrator and owner of HABBENINK.

The introduction was quite humbling. HABBENINK got in touch with me, offering kind words to my blog, which is always an awesome feeling. In return I checked out who HABBENINK was, and discovered a talent that would be a crime to keep to myself. I love to art and I love to share it.

So I hope you enjoy my interview with David Habben, of HABBENINK.


What is HABBENINK, and how did you get behind that name?

My last name is Habben and when I was in high school I thought I’d brand myself as “Habben, Ink”. Of course, I didn’t realize I was “branding” then, but it sounded cool at the time. Eventually it morphed into “habbenink” and just kind of stuck. It’s almost become an alter ego for me.

Tell us about your journey into illustration?

I’ve always loved to draw and my mother is a librarian, so we were taught to really treasure books.

Being a talented and creative person herself, she always found the books with the best artwork as well. So, while I love to create art in many ways, illustration was ingrained as the way to really be an artist and create a career out of it. Now, I find myself trying to live in multiple art worlds and open my mind to other ways of being an artist, while still being true to my illustrative roots.

When was that point where you realised you had a special talent?

I don’t know if it was a realisation of talent (I’m still not sure about that), but I know that once I started my university education, I realised how much I really love art and how much I enjoyed creating it. Once the genie was out of the lamp, it did not want to go back in.


What/who are you most inspired by?

Wow, too many people to mention.

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Humanæ, portraits and PANTONE® skin tones

Humanæ is a “work in progress” by the Brazilian Angélica Dass. A chromatic inventory, that reflects on the colours beyond the borders of our codes by referencing the PANTONE® colour scheme.


Dass, the granddaughter of a black and native Brazilian and the daughter of a black father adopted by a white family intends to deploy a chromatic range of the different human skin colours. It’s a pursuit for highlighting our subtle-continuous of our tones that make more equality than difference… our true colours, rather than the untrue Red and Yellow, Black and White.

It is a kind of game for subverting our codes. You are free to read into it. The ultimate goal is to provoke a discussion platform on ethnic identity, creating images that lead us to match us independent from factors such as nationality, origin, economic status, age or aesthetic standards.

The project development is based on a series of portraits whose background is dyed subject’s face. The project’s objective is to record and catalogue all possible human skin tones.

“I understand photography as a dialogue from personal to global; like a game in which the personal and social codes are put at stake to be reinvented, a continuous flow between the photographer and the photographed, a bridge between masks and identities. For this reason, I raises my work as a tool of exploration, questioning and searching for identity, for each own and others.”

Angélica Dass (Rio de Janeiro, 1979)


Nykhor Paul Volkskrant Magazine’s Spring/Summer 2014

Nykhor Paul photographed by Petrovsky & Ramone

Volkskrant Magazine’s Spring/Summer 2014 issue


Josue Comoe – Numero Homme Spring 2014 #menswear

Josue Comoe - Numero Homme Spring 2014

Jean Baptiste Mondino (Photographer)

tumblr_n2tixz9vSn1ryq2zfo1_500  tumblr_n2tixz9vSn1ryq2zfo2_500

Kente inspired menswear from Toronto based designer STREET CHIEF

Loving the Kente inspired shirts from Toronto  based designers, STREET CHIEF.



Giannina Antonette By fashion photographer Adam Reyna

Giannina Antonette By Adam Reyna



This is our quest: to leave the branches and find where our tree is standing on


This is our quest: to leave the branches and find where our tree is standing on.

How far do our roots go?

What is it on the soil that fed the seed?

From concrete jungle to urbanized savanna, we followed the path to the start.

The Root to our morals, our ideologies and identity.

Don’t you just love this? A new blog I’ve discovered and love.




Eritrean-Canadian model Grace Mahary in The Room Spring 2014 Campaign

Eritrean-Canadian model Grace Mahary is a gorgeous sight in The Room‘s Spring 2014 campaign.

Photographed by Paola Kudacki, she wears selections from Versace, Prabal Gurung, Emilio Pucci, Nina Ricci, Charlotte Olympia, Oscar de la Renta, Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler and more.

The Canadian-born model, who made her show debut last season, graced the catwalks of every fashion heavyweight for spring/summer 2013 – from Marc Jacobs and Prada to Chanel and Saint Laurent, the latter of which she closed. The 22-year-old beauty even joined in on Hedi Slimane’s post-show celebrations, when he was given rounds of applause, with glasses raised to celebrate his debut for the label.


Tweets from my travels, thanks guys!

Elegushi Beach, Lagos, Nigeria.

Elegushi is located off Lekki expressway. It’s one of the busier beaches, offering a mix of music, food and beautiful scenery of the sea.

Elegushi has an assortment of assortment of huts which turn to clubs at night) scattered along the beach.  I’ve heard the best time to visit is Sunday night from 10pm until the early hours of the morning.

I’m not sure I have the stamina for a Sunday rave, but I certainly had a great time in the day.

Click on an image to enlarge. 

APRIL – Editor’s Letter ‘From London to Lagos’

Editors letter april

I’m Back!

Having just landed back from a ten day trip to Lagos, I’m still buzzing of the high from visiting Africa’s most populous and vibrant city. Full of character and culture, my trip to Nigeria was explosive and unforgettable.

Thank you to those that followed  my travel journey on Instagram and Twitter (@afroblush) along with your kind comments and tweets.

All too often mainstream media images of Nigeria are plighted with war and corruption, over population and disorganisation. It hasn’t gone unnoticed that Nigeria’s political mismanagement has stifled both public and private sector attempts to boost its economy to its full potential. However, my time spent there (although short) revealed a country that despite a bruised reputation, is in fact pioneering, prosperous and beautiful, in addition to being one of the most welcoming places I’ve had the pleasure of visiting.



I spent the majority of my time in Lagos, the second fastest-growing city in Africa and the seventh in the world. With an estimated population of 20 million people, it is the largest city in Africa. An international hub for business, technology, fashion and music. I look forward to sharing my adventures dabbling in West African cuisine, Lagos night life and theatre.


I had a short spell in Ibadan, the third largest metropolitan area, by population, in Nigeria, after Lagos and Kano. I was charmed by Ibadan for its history and influence in African literature. The University of Ibadan was the first to be set up in Nigeria and is a premier educational institution in Africa. Its notable Alumni include (to name a few) Chinua Achebe, author of Things Fall Apart, John Pepper Clark, the Nigerian poet and playwright and Elechi Amadi, author of the 1966 novel ‘The Concubine’, which was my introduction in African Literature. It was all very humbling.

Other adventures of mine include visiting Lagos’s stunning beaches, dress-making and my encounter with palm wine.

From Lagos to London

Out of Africa and back in London, I’m excited to officially welcome British Summertime. Although, what sounds like an oxymoron, the days will surely get longer and hopefully warmer, with several brands and designers stocking the shelves with their latest spring and summer collections.

In my last post, I revealed the new Spring Summer collection from EDUN, and its collaboration with Belfast born Kenyan designer Penny Winter. This season I look forward to sharing collections from The Room, modelled by Eritrean-Canadian model Grace Mahary, and Nykhor Paul’s stunning editorial for Volkskrant Magazine, and the ultra-cool Kente inspired menswear collection my Toronto Based designers STREET CHIEF.

The UK Nigeria 100 Initiative

The lovely ladies at Styled by Africa brought to my attention the brilliant initiative UK Nigeria 100, which aims to connect British and Nigerian SMEs in the creative industry to share ideas and explore business opportunities. So keep checking back to find out. I’m proud to be able to play my part in supporting SME’s in the UK and Nigeria to trade bilaterally.

Music of the month

STRUT AFRICA by Various Artists (Strut Records)

strut_africasmI bought this album Strut Africa, on iTunes just before my travels and truly loved it. Strut Records have skilfully put together a digital package featuring some of the cream of the crop from their African Catalog, dating back to their very first release of Club Africa in 1999.

The album features music legends like Malatu Astatke, Ebo Taylor, Tony Allen and many more. Strut Africa hosts 26 tracks for £5.99, with a wealth of incredible sounds ranging from Nigerian Afrobeats to South African Township, Moroccan Gnawa and much in between.

Here’s a track from Strut Records on Soundcloud and a link to the albums iTunes page.






FABA (For Africans By Africans) Spotlight on EDUN SS/14

FABA (For Africans By Africans)

Today, both domestic businesses and global brands creating products for Africans are realising that, in order to offer real and relevant solutions, their offerings must reflect those customers by adopting as many region-specific features, elements and quirks as possible. Because for more conscious consumers, not only are FABA innovations, products and services more suited to their needs, but in many cases, they are also closely linked to ethical and/or sustainable business practices. This is especially true when these offerings make use of local resources such as homegrown talents, workforces or materials.

Next for FABA? In 2014, the most absolutely FABA-ULOUS products and services will attract the attention of consumers everywhere. Watch out for ingenious, wallet-saving, resilient and/or sustainable African solutions, competing with their global counterparts. Yes, even more competition, on an ever-more global scale.

Spotlight on EDUN Spring Summer 2014 Collection

In 2013, I posted an exclusive on the launch of Diesel EDUN, and their collaboration with Studio Africa. The Studio Africa collection is made from raw, untreated denim, which woven from cotton sourced from EDUN’s Conservation Cotton Initiative in Uganda and manufactured in Africa. The creative project was designed to promote young African talent, with the latest campaign featuring three musicians from across the continent.

You can read more about that post here: Diesel+EDUN-A global loudspeaker for a new African economic + creative paradigm

In 2014 EDUN continues to work towards increasing trade throughout the continent with its apparel and accessories business. Along with its commitment to building long-term, sustainable growth opportunities by supporting manufacturers, infrastructure and community building in Africa. This season, 85% of the EDUN Spring Summer 2014 Collection was produced in Sub Saharan Africa.

My favourite item from the EDUN Spring/Summer Collection is the Horn and Crystal Neck Cuff, produced by Belfast born Kenyan Artist, Penny Winter. In June 2013, EDUN’s Daniel Sherman travelled to Kenya to meet Penny Winter and began developing the piece. Since moving to Kenya in 1997, Penny Winter has established a clothing and jeweller business in central Nairobi which uses native materials and employs local artisans.



Check out the EDUN Spring Summer 2014 collection below


Google Juice bar presents Black Women in Business. The regret is real


The regret that I won’t be able to go to this event is real.


This Friday Gori Yahaya of Gori Digital is running the free Google event as part of Google’s Juice Bar entitled ‘Black Women Mean Business (BWMB)’; and although I have to miss this event, I strongly urge you not to.

As I’m currently reading Sheryl Sandberg’s novel ‘Lean In’, and leaving Birmingham’s NEC centre today after four days evaluating The Big Bang Fair which promotes science and technology. I guess it doesn’t come as a surprise that Google’s BWMB event is an area that is close to my heart as a women who’s in search of opportunities to lean in, learn more and up-skill in all areas affecting my personal ambitions as an insight and communication professional, and increase my online presence as a blogger.

photo 3

Sheryl boldly states in her novel that as a woman, “we have to be more careful, and more communal. You have to say yes to more things than men, you have to worry about things that men don’t have to worry about. But once we get enough women into leadership, we can break stereotypes down”.

Over the last four years I’ve spent a significant proportion of time looking at the motivations and barriers that women face entering science, engineering, technology and maths; and as changes in the digital landscape continues to accelerate, events like this are a fantastic opportunity to learn the importance and technical skills needed in order to use digital technologies to our advantage.

Read more

The new official UK trailer for Half of a Yellow Sun

Here is the newly released official UK trailer for the upcoming  film Half of a Yellow Sun, based on the award-winning best seller by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Release date, April 11th 2014.

HALF OF A YELLOW SUN is the feature film debut from London based Nigerian playwright, novelist and screenwriter Biyi Bandele.

Starring Oscar-nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave), BAFTA-winner Thandie Newton (Crash), BAFTA-nominee Joseph Mawle (Birdsong), Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls) and John Boyega (Attack the Block) HALF OF A YELLOW SUN is an epic love-story weaving together the lives of four people swept up in the turbulence of war, produced by Andrea Calderwood of Slate Films (The Last King of Scotland).


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