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Behind The Design

atelier | 55

Behind The Design is a better business and lifestyle podcast for creative entrepreneurs. Behind The Design takes you behind the scenes into the studios and workshops of established and emerging creatives from across Africa and beyond. Each season I, your host Tapiwa Matsinde chats with ordinary women and men who are doing the extraordinary by turning their dreams into reality. Our conversations give you an insight into how they are building their businesses, making their mark in their industries, and sharing the lessons and experiences they have picked up along the way. Be prepared for many nodding along moments. If you are an established, new or aspiring creative business owner seeking relatable and inspiring conversation then this podcast is for you.

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This is episode 8 where I am joined by product designer Olubunmi Adeyemi.


Lagos based, Nigerian born designer, Olubunmi Adeyemi is an internationally recognized designer, interior architect and lifestyle entrepreneur, He is the founder of AFROMINIMATM a design and lifestyle movement inspired by minimalism, and The DÅ brand. He has studied design in both London and South Africa. An alumni of the prestigious Lagos Business School, he is currently pursuing a masters at Central St Martins, in London, UK.

We talk about:

  • His focus on minimal design, what drew him to it and the difficulty in achieving a minimalist aesthetic
  • Creating his own design aesthetic and how that is helping to develop his business and make him a better designer
  • How culture impacts design, and the importance of seeing things from different cultural perspectives
  • His thoughts on inspiration and appropriation
  • Getting your products stocked in high profile outlets and how to attract opportunities
  • The importance of connections to grow and develop your business
  • How his jewellery design collaboration with Adele Dejak came about and what it has been like designing fashion accessories

Links and resources mentioned in this episode

British Council Nigeria -

Central St Martins - Applied Imaginations in the Creative Industries -

Adele Dejak -

Sanlam HmC -

Where you can go to find out more about Bunmi

Instagram: @afrominima -

Instagram: @the.da.brand -

Get the full show notes at:

Behind the Design is brought to you by atelier 55

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This is episode 7 where I am joined by digital marketing expert and t-shirt brand founder Kwabena Oppong Boateng.


Kwabena Oppong Boateng is a dynamic communications professional with extensive social media, telecommunications and advertising experience across public, private and corporate sectors in Ghana, Nigeria and the United Kingdom. He is the founder of Kayobi clothing, and Nkanee, a 21st century strategy consultancy based Accra, Ghana that specialises in innovative physical and digital experiences powered by ideas and creativity.

We talk about:

  • His LinkedIn article, Blackout, which discusses social media outages in Ghana, and the effect this has on businesses and sales
  • The dangers of using social media platforms as the sole place to run a business
  • The difficulty for African brands and access to reliable commerce solutions and the solutions
  • Why having a website even if it is a simple webpage matters, and the advantages of having your own platform
  • The importance of using offline in your marketing strategy
  • The value of collecting customer data and cultivating real relationships with your customers
  • How to create a business marketing strategy that works for your business
  • Analytics and how to use them in your business
  • Attracting attention to your your business

Links and resources mentioned in this episode

Blackout LinkedIn -

Jumia -

Shopify -

Bigcartel -

Bigcommerce -

Orijin Culture -

Christie Brown -

Duro Olowu -

Quicksell App -

Where you can go to find out more about Kwabena

Get the full show notes at:

Behind the Design is brought to you by atelier 55

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This is episode 6 where I am joined by fashion accessories designer Akosua Afriyie-Kumi.


You are listening to episode #6. And joining me on the show is Akosua Afriyie-Kumi the founder of A A K S, a fashion accessories brand that tells an exciting story of Ghana, and offers a different perspective of Africa as a whole. A A K S’s raffia bags are handmade by a women’s cooperative in Northern Ghana, and uses ethical processes inspired by old-age craft traditions. Through her brand Akosua wants the world to see how luxury and quality can grow from traditional designs and is using AAKS bags to change perceptions of Africa through fashion. She has been shortlisted as an emerging designer from Africa by Vogue Italia and has been featured in leading press titles and the A A K S collections are stocked in 20 countries and 70 stores worldwide.

We talk about:

  • Moving from the UK back to Ghana to explore her idea and start her business
  • Her desire to build on traditional crafts and give them a place in the modern world
  • Finding weavers to work with and overcoming communication barriers to develop her design ideas
  • The process from concept to getting her first saleable bag, and how she plans and develops a collection
  • Building an authentic brand in a content noisy world
  • How she retains her ethical values whilst meeting commercial demands
  • The challenges of business in balancing passion and purpose with making a living
  • Her big break and her experiences of working with stockists
  • Creating a brand and developing her brand aesthetic
  • The relevance of having a website to attract stockists

Links and resources mentioned in this episode

Kingston University UK -

British Library Business & IP Centre -

Anthropologie -

British Council -

Design Network Africa -

Lagos Fashion Week -

Pitti Trade show Milan -

She Trades -

UNHCR Weaving for Change -

Where you can go to find out more about Akosua

Instagram: @a.a.k.s

Facebook: @aakshandcrafted

Get the full show notes at:

Behind the Design is brought to you by atelier 55

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This is episode 5 where I am joined by textile designer Eva Sonaike.


Eva Sonaike is the founder of Eva Sonaike, a London-based interiors and lifestyle brand creating luxurious textiles and home décor products. Eva, who was born and raised in Germany and is of Nigerian heritage, has taken the best elements of these two cultures to inspire her work. The result being designs that bring the vibrancy of African colours and aesthetics to the luxury home décor and accessories market.

We talk about:

  • What led her to starting a textile design business, and the journey of turning a hobby into a full-time business
  • How her first collection attracted the attention of Selfridges and Liberty London, two prestigious London department stores. How being in the right place at the right time has led to some of her biggest opportunities.
  • Celebrating ten years of Eva Sonaike and what has this journey taught her about herself and as a business leader
  • Developing the characteristics of a textile designer and the importance of business acumen
  • Using trade shows to help get her brand exposure, and what participation has taught her about branding and building a world-class brand
  • Why you shouldn’t say yes to every opportunity
  • The perception of luxury African Design in a western market
  • Getting her products into African countries, the ease of doing business
  • Overcoming discouragement and seasons of doubt
  • Balancing family and business

Links and resources mentioned in this episode

Selfridges -

Liberty London -

Fenwick -

The Observer Magazine -

Alara - @alaralagos

Temple Muse -

Concept Store in Rwanda get name

Eki Orleans -

Lisa Folawiyo -

Aburi Gardens Ghana -

Google Analytics -

Where you can go to find out more about Eva

Instagram: @evasonaike -

Facebook: @evasonaike -

Get the full show notes at:

Behind the Design is brought to you by atelier 55

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This is episode 4 where I am joined by user interaction designer and tech conference organiser Farai Madzima.

ABOUT FARAI: Farai Madzima is a UX Lead at Shopify in Ottawa, Canada. Born in Zimbabwe, Farai has spent the last 14 years helping to design and build products and teams in the UK, South Africa and Canada. He is the organiser of Pixel Up!, a series of UX and design conferences and meetups in South Africa created to connect designers and developers in Africa with their peers around the world.

We talk about:

  • What is UX design and why it matters to business
  • Why product and service creators need to see the product and user experience from the customer’s perspective
  • The increasing effect that technologies such as voice activated platforms will have on businesses and the user experience and how to prepare for the change
  • His talk ‘Can Being African Make You A Bad Designer?’ and how it explores the understanding of culture and how that shows up in us at work
  • The lessons learnt from being fired from one of his first jobs and how the experience helped him to grow into leadership
  • Managing teams where age differences and cultural expectations could be an issue
  • His thoughts on the future of Africa’s tech industries

Links and resources mentioned in this episode

Andela -

Udemy online courses -

Figma -

forloop -

Udacity courses -

Interaction Design Foundation (IDF) -

Can Being African Make You A Bad Designer? -

Where you can go to find out more about Farai




Twitter: @farai_uxguy

Get the full show notes at:

Behind the Design is brought to you by atelier 55

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This is episode 3 where I am joined by textile and product designer Edith Tialeu.


Edith Tialeu is on a mission to share the rich craft heritage of her home country, Cameroon and the wider continent with the world through her brand Frida 54, which produces collections of woven textiles and lifestyle accessories such ceramics handcrafted in collaboration with the local artisans she seeks out, many of whom are women. Through her brand, Edith seeks to define a new African aesthetic, one which exists between tradition and contemporary style and upholds creativity, human input, and know-how.

We talk about:

  • Moving from Paris to her home country of Cameroon to start her design brand, and how she prepared for the transition
  • Overcoming resistance from family who wanted her to do something else
  • How she went about identifying and finding the different kinds of artisanal talent in Cameroon
  • The significance and meaning behind the name Frida, and the connection to her African heritage
  • How she works with artisans, the relationships she has created and why it was important to learn hand on how they work to help her better understand the types of products that could be created
  • Why preserving local artisanal skills is important, and the importance of taking on young interns to help pass on the skills
  • The costs and challenges of logistics, getting stock and products into the hands of her customers
  • Taking part in trade shows and learning from the experiences to make her business better
  • What being in business has taught her about herself

Links and resources mentioned in this episode

Le Grand Palais -

Where you can go to find out more about Edith and Frida 54

Instagram: @frida_54

Get the full show notes at:

Behind the Design is brought to you by atelier 55

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This is episode 2 where I am joined by interior and furniture designer Siyanda Mbele.

ABOUT SIYANDA: Siyanda Mbele is the founder of Pinda Design, the design studio he set up in his hometown of Durban, South Africa. He designs and manufactures hand-painted furniture inspired by South Africa’s diverse cultures.

We talk about:

  • The financial implications of starting design business - finding funding and getting support from family to support his dream
  • The costs of manufacturing, and finding the right manufacturers to work with
  • Who turns to for advice and business support
  • The early mistakes he made and how he fixed them
  • Learning to connect and negotiate with global buyers
  • The challenges of getting his product to market, logistics shipping internationally from the continent and how he works around the challenges
  • The role of culture in design, the impact it has on society, and why it's important for him to express his culture in his designs
  • Cultural shifts in South Africa, and the emergence and impact of young black furniture and product designers making a name for themselves and contributing to the South African design aesthetic, and what has changed to make this possible

Links and resources mentioned in this episode

Durban University Of Technology -

Design Indaba -

SABS Design Institute -

Where you can go to find out more about Siyanda

Instagram: @pindadesign | @siyandambele

Get the full show notes at:

This podcast is brought to you by atelier 55

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