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Hazel Eki Osunde, the German-Nigerian Luxury Silk Print Fashion Designer Behind EKI

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Hazel Eki Osunde is the Creative Director and Founder of EKI. She was born in a rural town in Germany, raised in Nigeria and now residing in London. Hazel injects a bit of nature, culture and travel into her designs with Africa on her mind. After working in Asset Management for 8 years, it was her fascination with culture and colour that inspired her to pursue her own career in fashion. In this exclusive interview with Alaba Ayinuola, discover more about Hazel, EKI and her view on the fashion world. Excerpt.

 

Alaba: Tell me about yourself and journey as a fashion designer?

Hazel: I am of mixed heritage German-Nigerian. Born in Germany, spent my childhood in Nigeria and now reside in the UK. I spent my first 10 years in banking until I fell pregnant and found a new meaning to life. It was at this time that I decided to follow my passion which was a love for colour, culture and travel which I then translated into prints. My first love is designing prints that narrate positive African stories.

Alaba: What attracted you to fashion and what do you attend to achieve?

Hazel: Fashion can be very impactful. It can light up a room and also create a platform for change. It is powerful and it can be used as a tool to educate consumers on the importance of matters. My goal is to allow the EKI story telling of the prints to naturally evolve into other areas, creating the same magical feeling.

Alaba: When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career as a designer?

Hazel: I was working in banking when I recall a friend of mine talk so passionately about her career in media and it was at that moment, I realised I couldn’t put that much love and excitement into my profession. So, I ventured on a journey of discovery. It soon dawned on me that I had a love for textiles, designs and a nostalgia for Africa. And that’s how it started.

Alaba: How do you walk the line between being unique and having commercial appeal?

Hazel: Uniqueness comes from the interpretation of our prints. I don’t design prints for everyone, nor do I follow trends. I pick shades and colours that I am drawn to and know my customers like. The designs of our dresses are quite simplistic and classic allowing for that commercial appeal. I believe with the bold EKI prints are balanced out with the styles we choose.

Hazel with Models on her new collection at the Lagos Fashion Week 2021 Image: Lagos Fashion Week)

Alaba: How is your work received internationally and where do you look for creative inspiration?

Hazel: The pieces have a clear African influence, yet subtle and the fact that we print on silk gives it that international appeal. The garments are also quite flowy and can be worn casually or dressed up, as our international clients are often quite simplistic in their style. Inspiration is always drawn from Africa and I always tap into nature, culture or travel and narrate the story from an African point of view.

Alaba: What is your favourite part about being a designer?

Hazel: I love hearing clients’ stories on how they felt wearing the pieces; the confidence, the sexiness and the attraction they got from it.

Alaba: How do you want women to feel when wearing your designs?

Hazel: I want them to own their femininity and exude a palpable feeling of confidence and sexiness.

Alaba: The term Fashiontech is still quite new. What is your opinion of the state of the Fashiontech industry and its growth?

Hazel: Fashion tech will become the new norm. There will need to be discussions on how we preserve the authenticity and creativeness of fashion. There has been such an investment into slowing the fashion down and producing pieces of meaning by people we should care about yet fashion tech goes completely against this as it cuts out the middleman, replaces them with robots with the sole purpose of speeding up the fashion space. The smaller brands that focus on individuality and handcrafting will have to create stronger identities and brand stories to be able to compete with faster fashion spearheaded by fashion tech.

Alaba: There’s so much pressure for designers to come out with the greatest collection season after season. What advice would you give to young designers just starting out and hoping to make it in the industry?

Hazel: Keep it creative, small and don’t overstretch yourself financially until you have created your clientele base who not just likes and follows your pieces but also purchases.

Models on EKI new collection at the Lagos Fashion Week 2021 (Image: Lagos Fashion Week)

Alaba: Finally, what would you like to achieve before the end of the year?

Hazel: I just presented our latest SS22 collection in Lagos, Nigeria and my goal till the end of the year is that this collection is very well received and we pick up on how sales were pre-lockdown because fashion in the UK in particular really came to a standstill during our endless lockdowns.

Model on EKI new collection at the Lagos Fashion Week 2021 (Image: Lagos Fashion Week)

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CliniDo: Your Personalized Healthcare Companion

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CliniDo Mina Shawky CEO and Hitham Essam CTO, at GITEX Africa

CliniDo, a MENA leading health tech innovator, With CliniDo’s revolutionary voice search functionality, connecting with a healthcare provider takes mere seconds. CliniDo transcends the limitations of a typical healthcare app. They envision themselves as your trusted healthcare companion, offering unwavering support throughout your health journey. Whether you’re experiencing a new symptom or managing a chronic condition, CliniDo provides personalized and exceptional customer-focused solutions.

Founded in January 2020 in Assiut Egypt, by Wael Soliman, Mina Shawky, and Hitham Essam, CliniDo aims to be the ultimate healthcare companion, providing top-notch medical services in Egypt and the MENA.

Your Voice Heard: Instant Connection Through Voice Search

Imagine needing medical attention and simply voicing your needs. With CliniDo’s revolutionary voice search functionality, connecting with a healthcare provider takes mere seconds. Forget complex menus or frustrating typing – just speak your needs, and CliniDo will connect you to the right healthcare provider. This innovative approach showcased at GITEX exemplifies CliniDo’s commitment to streamlining healthcare access.

Guiding You from Symptoms to Solutions: AI-Powered Support

CliniDo takes the guesswork out of your healthcare journey. Simply describe your symptoms to their AI-powered system, and it will recommend the most appropriate medical specialty for your needs. This ensures you receive the right care, right away – a testament to CliniDo’s commitment to efficiency and patient well-being, a theme that pervaded GITEX discussions.

Personalized Content Tailored to Your Needs

CliniDo doesn’t stop at connecting you with healthcare providers. Recognizing that knowledge empowers, they provide customized medical and educational content that aligns with your specific condition. This empowers you to make informed decisions about your healthcare journey.

A Complete Healthcare Ecosystem at Your Fingertips

CliniDo offers a comprehensive suite of healthcare services, all conveniently accessible through their platform. Here’s a glimpse into what attendees at GITEX found particularly exciting about CliniDo’s offerings:

  • Book appointments with doctors: Find the right doctor for your needs and schedule appointments in seconds.
  • Book clinic consultations: Schedule in-person consultations with your chosen healthcare provider.
  • Book home visits: Get the care you need from doctors or nurses from the comfort of your own home.
  • Book lab tests from home: No need to go to a lab. Order your tests and have them collected from your home.
  • Request Medication: Easily request your medication.
  • New! Book medical services: This exciting new Product allows you to directly book any medical service you require, streamlining the process and saving you valuable time.
  • Next: Bookings and Payment Solutions: CliniDo’s commitment to continuous innovation is clear. you will soon be able to book surgeries and procedures directly through CliniDo, with a convenient installment payment solution built into the platform.

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Making a Measurable Impact

CliniDo’s dedication to patient care is reflected in their impressive achievements. They’ve proudly served over half a million patients, connected them with more than 11,000 doctors and healthcare providers, and facilitated over two million dollars in healthcare transactions. These numbers represent countless individuals who have received the care they need, thanks to CliniDo’s innovative platform.

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Rhea, a women-led Kenyan startup is cultivating change in AgriTech

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Rhea CEO and Co-Founder, Priscilla Wakarera (Image: Supplied).

Rhea is a dynamic agritech start-up that is revolutionizing soil health management with innovative IoT sensors, empowering smallholder farmers to practice precision agriculture for sustainable and profitable crop cultivation.

GITEX Africa 2024, was held in Marrakech, Morocco from May 29th to 31st, 2024. The event was an incredible platform for tech enthusiasts, startups, and industry leaders to converge, showcasing the dynamic growth and potential of Africa’s tech ecosystem.

Participating at GITEX AFRICA allowed Rhea to make meaningful connections with service providers who will be instrumental for our growth. The showcases by established market players were a source of invaluable learning and inspiration as we continue to build our vision.

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Additionally, engaging in insightful conversations with ecosystem drivers has opened new avenues for collaboration and support. Rhea is looking forward to the days and months ahead, the organization is excited to foster collaborations with the connections that were made during GITEX Africa 2024.

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Tapiwa Guzha: making African-inspired ice cream with local flavors

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Tapiwa Guzha is a South African entrepreneur and founder of the Tapi Tapi ice cream brand. This amazing journey all began in July 2018 which already feels like a lifetime ago. What began as a self imposed dare by Tapiwa to share a passion for ice cream, any sort of ice cream, has evolved into an amazing storytelling vehicle. A unique way to share African folklore, rituals and cultural practices through frozen morsels and crunchy cones. A way to celebrate our diversity and embrace our differences while also realising we’re far more similar than we are different. Very creative, Tapiwa stands out for his ice creams with new flavors. Dried fish, hibiscus, Mphepho, toffee, chilli, dried blackjack leaves with caramel. Flavours that are simply unprecedented.

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In February 2020, Guzha launched Tapi Tapi, and the shop quickly became a success. Tapi Tapi is a Shona expression that means “yum yum”. Tapi Tapi began as a direct-delivery service that dropped off ice creams all around the Western Cape. While also orchestrating pop-up tasting experiences where people could engage with the diverse food and food practices from all over the continent. It is a one-of-a-kind shop that showcases the flavors of Africa. Tapi Tapi’s ice creams are tasty, bold, and unique, and they’re a great way to experience African cuisine.

This Zimbabwean molecular biologist, PhD in biotechnology at the University of Cape Town, passionate about cooking and entrepreneur, he makes African-inspired ice cream with local African flavors after experimenting with dry ice (dry ice making process). Tapiwa began experimenting with dry ice, a form of solid carbon dioxide that sublimates into carbon dioxide when exposed to heat. This allowed him to create ice cream faster, smoother and tastier. 

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