British entrepreneur and philanthropist, Richard Branson has re-ignited his Voom project for 2016, calling for businesses to submit their idea in the hopes of pitching to him directly and securing funds for their dreams.
Nigerian designer Hazel Aggrey-Orleans of womenswear label Eki Orleans has leapt at the exciting opportunity, and is calling for votes on her pitch, which are needed to get her in the room with Mr Branson.
Currently at the first stage of Voom’s initiative, the Eki team are in need of votes to see them through to the final stage, where they can pitch to the Virgin Group founder, for a share of his £1million prize.
The brand need to get to 80th place in the voting stage (they’re currently at 101st) before they get through to the next phase, with Eki looking for an overall investment of £50,000 – the funds aimed to open a teaching unit in Nigeria from where they will kickstart a program on print and silk-cutting, working with students in the UK as well as local artisans in Nigeria.
With plans to eventually employ locals and maintain the traditional technique of hand cutting on silk, Ms Aggrey-Orleans explained to us at SPICE;
“Opening up a teaching unit in Nigeria has always been a dream of mine. It’s more of a longterm goal but definitely something I aspire to do. There are a few key people in Nigeria already creating a fantastic platform for African designers, and if we can help contribute as well, the more the better.
My dream is to create short term employment for UK fashion designers and take them to Nigeria to live and integrate with families, and then teach local Nigerian designers the traditional techniques of hand-cutting silk, as well as the concept of print design.
Hopefully both parties (the UK and local fashion students) will benefit, but the ultimate goal is to employ the best local students into our unit, whilst the others go on to create successful fashion brands of their own.It is so important we grow together.”
Other African pitches include a South African design engineering student’s innovative, green energy material, Moya Power, which harvests clean, sustainable energy from the wind; Chuku’s – London’s first Nigerian Tapas lounge by brother-sister duo, Emeka and Ifeyinwa Frederick; Binta’s Kitchen, which produces versatile, vegan North Nigerian sauces; aerospace engineering student, Sadat Moh’s Future Power initiative to increase the literacy of 5,000 girls across Africa by 2018.
For Ms Orleans though, there is also an upcoming collection to prepare, “inspired by the underwater sea world.”
Team SPICE wish Eki Orleans all the best in the Voom project and encourage readers to vote here before the deadline on Monday 23rd of May. As a thank you for your help, Eki Orleans are also running a competition online, giving away one of their signature silk print scarves, explained above in the competition flyer.
Image source: Ekiorleans.com, Vmbvoom.com