The land is good to me: Ilé.Darásimi

Meet summer vendor Ilé.Darásimi that creates African inspired homemade gifts. Learn more in our interview below!

How did Ilé.Darásimi come to be?

It all started in 2017 I would say when I went back home to Nigeria for the first time, since I left when I was a teenager. I really was just so inspired and mesmerised by the landscape, nature, going through the market and seeing all the beautiful displays of colour and ankara. Just seeing the ways the fabric was being used in a modern way was breathtaking. It wasn't the typical fabric that we used for a skirt and blouse to wear when we were growing up. I loved all the fabrics I saw that I bought so many of them to bring back to the UK with me you can say I got carried away. I began crafting with all the fabrics I brought back. Our house was ankara central. We had picture frames covered in the fabric. Cushions, covers headbands etc.

Flash forward to 2018 to 2019 I began my transition back into the workforce. I was taking my certification courses and classes. Then we found out that our next posting would be abroad. My husband is in the military.

I wasn’t too happy about having to move after just now settling down to life in the UK. I realised I had to start over basically. And my husband suggested hey, you know we probably will be moving around a lot. Why not start your own business selling your crafts? That way it doesn’t matter where we are, you can make and sell them. He said that I can sell them on Instagram, I'm always shopping on there anyways. So then the journey began slowly in January 2019.

Inspiration behind the name

The inspiration behind the name is my tiny human. He keeps me motivated. Darasimi is my son's name and it means ‘good to me’ in Yoruba. I added the ile part which you could say means land. So basically the translation is the land is good to me or the Earth is good to me. I love fabrics with nature inspired prints on them. The iconic vintage fabrics, as well as the newer modern vibrant fabrics.

Walk us through your creative process! How do you create your notebooks?

The notebooks process is actually one of the less complicated procedures compared to other items. The hardcover lined notebooks occasionally have been pre bounded which makes the process faster depending on whether I’m making a soft padded one or simply hardcover. The padding is cut to size. For me the pattern placement of the print along the notebooks is what I’m intentional about. I want to make sure the lovely print is visible and evenly distributed.

Where do you source your fabrics?

My fabrics are now mostly sourced from Ghana and then Nigeria. If I need something urgently then I'll get them from the shops locally. I chose to source my fabrics from the continent for two reasons. One is to help support their economy indirectly by supporting a female owned businesses. And two Ghana is one of the few African countries that actually manufactures their own African print fabric with excellent quality. As we all know African print/wax fabric is actually made by the Dutch. So most of the other fabrics are imported from Holland. And most of these major companies still refuse to set up their factories in Africa. Now we have fabrics being brought in from China as well.

Favorite product to make and why?

Favorite product to make is actually the frames, which I don't make enough of anymore. But I will resume again soon. I really love seeing them hung up on the wall or sitting on a shelf. What have been your greatest accomplishments as a business? Greatest challenges?

My greatest challenge, I would say is that I am an introvert. And that often translates into me staying in my corner, doing my thing rather than putting myself out there as a person and as a brand. For accomplishment, I would say getting started is an accomplishment? I have had this idea for the longest, but I was always in school, busy working full time or making excuses for myself. It was always never the right time, not enough funds, or self doubt that no one would like my items, seeing that there are a lot of Ankara products out there.

What does it mean to you to be a Black owned business?

For me being a black owned business means sharing my culture through my products. I want people of all backgrounds to use my products in their everyday life because it sparks joy, they look good but they are also functional. Taking up space in an unapologetic way, like hey why not buy this bright printed shopping tote rather than that boring, mass produced brown one that big business wants you to have. They serve the same purpose!!! Being more confident in myself and knowing that I belong at the table so to say.

Any advice for other Black creatives or entrepreneurs?

I'm still new at this but my advice is to get started. Learn and grow from each experience. I believe networking with others also plays a big part. Also get a website/ retail outlet as soon as possible. I was one of those people that started with ‘DM for Price’ I didn't realise how much of a turn off that was for customers. The current climate, everything closing and opening inconsistently due to Covid, having an online space to direct people to is essential. I relied so much on markets, fairs etc for sales and had to pivot and re-evaluate my strategy.

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