Hello and welcome to the #RelevantWaffleGALspiration series, if you’re new, check out an intro post on this whole series here! To summarise, the #RelevantWaffleGALspiration series is basically me interviewing some amazing girl bosses who are doing their thang and together with me you get to find out the ins and out of their business, how they built their empire from the ground up and what the future holds for these boss babes. Today I interview, Rebeckah Kemi, a freelance textiles designer based in London, Rebeckah founded Embellished Talk in 2016, a safe space to explore and learn about textiles through the professional and personal narratives of people from different walks of life! I am so excited to share with you the journey of Rebeckah and how textiles is so much more than fabric. Stay tuned…
Hey Rebeckah, tell me about yourself?
I graduated from the London College of Fashion in 2007 with a degree in Surface Pattern for Fashion Textiles. During my time there I mainly focused on-screen prints with brief introductions to embellishments (beading) and machine embroidery. Printed surfaces are cool but I much prefer fabrics with three-dimensional textures. As for me, I’m from London, born and raised. My mum’s Ghanaian and my dad’s Nigerian. Typically they wanted me to study more academic subjects; I studied electronics for one year at college to please my dad but it was bloody awful, I dropped that class as soon I could! Textiles has been my thing for as long as I can remember but when I graduated ten years ago jobs were scarce, not paying that much or asking for years of experience which I didn’t have. I worked random admin jobs, qualified as an English teacher, taught in Paris for six months, came back to London to be with my boyfriend; but textiles was still calling my name. I’m still paying for my student loan and I refuse to not be a part of textiles! I started Embellished Talk last year in May. It’s a space to explore textiles through digital content and creative workshops. As well as that, I interview different designers about their craft and I teach people of all levels how to embroider and embellish.
So where did the name Embellished Talk come from?
Oh gosh, to begin with I was going to call my platform Kemi Apara (my middle name and surname) because I wanted to rep my west African roots but it didn’t really have anything to do with textiles. I thought about brands like Man Repeller, the WW Club and Sincerely Tommy and liked how their names meant something. So one day on the tube home from an inspiring talk with Peter Pilotto I just started brainstorming. Embellished means ‘to add on,’ either on a surface or literally, making something more interesting or beautiful. I added ‘Talk’ because I knew I was going to be talking to loads of designers. I also thought about logos and talk is synonymous with lips so it was perfect really.
What lead you to start Embellished Talk?
Many things. I want people to know how others found jobs in the industry and along with that, I want people to learn about different types textiles.
So how do you remain unique?
I’m not sure if I am. I guess I just make sure to continue to follow what I like and try new things. If I ain’t feeling it I’m not going to force it.
Okay so tell me what your average week is like?
As well as running Embellished Talk, I work part time as an ESOL Tutor teaching refugee and immigrant girls English while helping them get into schools and colleges. I do this through a charity organisation called the Baytree Centre. I work during term time Mondays – Thursday 11 to 5pm so I run Embellished Talk around those hours. I’m never not working but I enjoy it. I have to remind myself to chill and focus on non work related things though. Right now I’m working on finding more nice spaces to run workshops in. I want to start a family soon so I’m working super hard now so I can chill a bit later.
So what are your future plans for Embellished Talk ?
More workshops! I want to travel with Embellished Talk and run workshops in different countries. I also want to do more collaborations with brands I admire and I’d like to start thinking of merchandise.
Who inspires you?
Solange! She’s creatively and confidently weird. Old friends used to say I was odd and weird and it used to hurt my feelings but Solange gives me the inspiration to just be myself. She’s like no one else. I’m really inspired by the model Adwoa Aboah. I collaborated with her recently on her platform GURLS TALK. She’s doing amazing and honest work by helping girls deal with their internal or external struggles. She doesn’t necessarily provide each girl with a solution but she holds a space for them to articulate their feelings. She works hard and that really inspires me. I recently watched a documentary about Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine called The Defiant Ones, they are proper relentless hustlers!
What do you listen to and what do you read?
I’m a member of the WW Club’s and the founder Phoebe has inspiring newsletters. At the moment I’m reading a book about designer Elsa Schiaparelli’s life and how she mixed art and fashion. I’m currently listening to a lot of Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg to stay motivated and low key gully.
What practices of self care do you factor in to your life?
I like making my own facial scrubs with sugar, almond oil and rose water. I don’t work out as much as I should but when I use the Nike NTC app for yoga.
Yas so that is Rebeckah Kemi, the founder and babe of Embellished Talk, how amazing is her story!? I always love seeing people break out and do things their way, from almost studying Electronics to becoming a freelance textile designer.
Honestly, I love how the #RelevantWaffleGALspiration series is creating a space for millennial creatives to showcase their work, their story and their journey. If like Rebeckah you have a hustle and a passion, send me an email at email@example.com and become a #RelevantWaffleGAL for our amazing #RelevantWaffleGALspiration community.
For now, check out Embellished Talk on the links below.
Thanks for reading.
Lots of love,