Meet our Spring vendor Quemamu Mosaics , started by mosaic artist Dionne Ible. Dionne creates moasic art pieces, greeting cards and leads her own design workshops. Learn more about Qemamu Mosiacs in the Q&A below.
How did Qemamu Mosaics come to be?
Qemamu Mosaics was borne out of a need to do something more creative and to stimulate my mind differently from my 9-5 job working as a Legal Secretary. Although I didn’t have a background in art I knew that I wanted to do something creative so I went about searching for a course that would satisfy my needs. I decided to get a prospectus and search for something and eventually found a mosaic course. I enrolled on the 10 week course and was soon hooked on the practical hands on craft. After completing the course, I knew this was something I was going to continue doing at home. A few years later in 2007, after having made and sold a few pieces to friends and family, I decided to form my business and start marketing myself more professionally.
I also support a charity called Read Across Africa and donate a percentage of my earnings to this cause who are based in Kenya. It is my intention to create merchandise based on some of the images I did for this year’s calendar to further create awareness and extend my services.
Inspiration behind the name?
My company name derived from a naming book I had, from which I named my children. I wanted a name that reflected what I was doing and also had its roots in Africa. The name Qemamu is an ancient Egyptian word meaning creation or creator, something worked, workers in wood or metal.
Walk us through the creative process, how do you design your greeting cards?
So my cards are just prints of my original mosaics. I receive my inspiration from a number of sources e.g. my personal ideas, other people’s artwork, nature, African and Caribbean influences. Once I get an idea I draw it out very loosely either on paper or sometimes straight onto the base I’m working on. I then pick out a few pieces of tile and build on that. Once the piece is completed, I make the decision as to whether I want it to be available as a card or not. When that decision is made I send the image to my printer and they work their magic.
Greatest accomplishments and challenges as a business so far?
As a sole trader I wear many hats i.e. artist, social media expert, accountant, marketing expert, administrator, mother etc. With these essential parts to balance, it is sometimes challenging to manage my time accordingly especially when all I want to do really is create.
Despite the challenges that come with my business I have managed to receive some amazing commissions, one of which led me to appear on ITV’s 60 Minute Makeover program and I also have a large piece in Royal Warrant holders Joel & Sons premises. I have also featured in Art of Luxury Magazine and Good Housekeeping magazine.
What does it mean to you to be a Black owned business?
It makes me feel so proud to have a business which is not just Black owned but also brings me joy and brings joy to others whether viewing or purchasing. I hope that I am a great example of what is possible for the young Black children coming up behind me who want to pursue a career in my industry.
How are you adapting your business to a COVID-19 world?
I have been able to continue creating as before and sell my pieces but also managed to tweak my workshop service and offer online tuition. I am truly grateful for that.
Any advice for Black creatives or entrepreneurs?
Study your industry so you become one of the leading experts in your field. That way you become the go to person for your niche. Keep learning and finding ways to push your creativity. Explore other creative practices and reach out to others to collaborate. Don’t be afraid to show off your creativity to the world. There will always be someone who needs your talent in their lives.