Feelspiration™: It's Like Candy...Red! ❤️

My oh my, how 2017 has flown by! It seems like only yesterday I was celebrating the start of 2017 and we’ve now only got 2.5 months of it left! However, goals are still achievable, much so fashion as well as life ones, and thus I come with an Autumn Feelspiration™ in the form of Caaaandy. Well Candy red to be exact.

With red being de rigueur for AW17, this scintillating shade has a reason for most people to invest, so a fitting Feelspiration™. Candy red is my shade of choice as its vibrancy works particularly well with darker skin tones; perfect to spice up a mellow Autumn afternoon. As my style has developed over the years, I think colour mapping to skintone is one piece of advice that I have stayed true to. I was a full fuchsia junkie when I was younger (very indicative of my excitable nature back then!) with pop colours my partners in fashion play. However, red, whether candy, crimson or rose, strikes the perfect trifecta between elegance, simplicity and…well, pure fire! I would encourage everyone reading this to find their perfect red. It’s the colour of energy and helps boost self-empowerment, which is never a bad thing! More importantly, it evokes passion which is something I truly believe we all should have. So, whether it’s a first date, important presentation or you’re just celebrating positivity changes in your life, there is a perfect red fit out there for it. This article on eBay is a great starter guide on finding the best shade for you but be open to experimenting; everyone is unique!

This drop hem dress was a snap purchase from Primark whilst prepping for what turned out to be an ah-mazing weekend (shout out to Sade, SOAB & SuyaSpot!). I teamed it with thigh high boots (thighs seem to be de rigueur for me right now!) to take the edge of the mini element but I felt so free and, dare I say it, sexy! Funnily enough, I actually bumped into an ex and felt too good to care – gotta love those moments!

Although you can’t buy this dress online, I’ve curated a collection of items which will suit a variety of shapes and sizes. Click, purchase and get your red on!

Ella pointed pumps – Pretty Ballerinas
Red Tassel Halterneck Midi dressPretty Little Thing
Red Crochet Lace Plunge Swing Dress – Pretty Little Thing

 SB x

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WACWW: Thigh High Slit

Yo yo yo, greetings from an island in the middle of Western Europe!  It was been a minute since I've done a WACWW (What A Curvy Woman Wants for all the newbies) but I'm back and I'm better :)  Keeping it 100% honest, I've had a hard time with my fluctuating weight and drastic change in an ever hectic lifestyle so I've not been inspired to take some Life Without Spanxs-worthy posts. However, like a hardworking woman should, I whisked myself away from the hustle and bustle of London and took some time to give myself some love. Et voila, this WACWW is the result!

So, I don't know about anyone else but I am absolutely LOVIN' Pretty Little Thing right now!  Somehow I missed the memo when it stopped catering for the modelesque statue and decided to throw some curve hugging pieces in the mix, but I am here for it!  For the longest time, I've wanted a maxi dress with a thigh slit for the gawds and amidst my hoarding  purchases on the site I came across this gem. Having big thighs, bum and hips (the trifeca of the curvy woman's manual), it's so hard to find a dress where the slit doesn't look like it's trying to cut shapes on your body, but this dress is as graceful on the curves as it is beautiful on the eye. I tanned whilst away so the burnt orange gave me delicious vibes against the tan but, like any great retailer, they have an array of colours, suitable for many skin tones.

You can purchase the dress here but if you're looking for something a tad more demure, this Forever Unique dress is also recommended, with a drape forgiving of many sins.

Right, off to get my Angelina Jolie leg pose on!

SB xx

SBism™: An Open Letter

Hey body,

How do I capture our journey? From pre-teen rolls and unusually large hips for a 12 year old to stumbling through puberty changes and unexpected attention.  You have made me feel amazing at times and so low I want to stay in an enclosed space forever.  In my ever-increasing age I am still yet to figure you out.  Every time I show an inch of you to the world, I have inner anxiety that very few seem to understand.  An attention-grabbing body does not equate to attention-grabbing.  But as the years go on I love you more and I'm okay to own you.  Your stomach is far too big by any of my demands and I've violently pinched you with wishes for that part of disappear, gym, diet and all. I legit think I can fly with your triceps, with your cooperation on looking toned having been approximately 2 times in my adult life.  Your bum; the epitome of the revolution against fitting into a pair of any trousers.

But your skinny little ankles have supported me when men have broken my heart for not having you and women have shamed me for not understanding you. Despite the aggravation I give you to mould you into an idea of 'perfect', your broken knees have had enough strength to get down on onto the ground and join my voice and mind in prayer.   You keep me warm through my insane stubbornness not to wrap you up and held your form long enough for me to appreciate you for who you are.  Not who you were or who you will be.  Who you are.

Bikini - Pretty Little Thing

By no means can I promise I won't cry over you again or wish you had the grace of Ashley Graham or the confidence of Danielle Brooks. I'll probably still struggle to explain you for a while longer. But we are a team.  We roll with the punches, the criticisms, the praise and the pains together.  Thank you for your glow, your melanin making me proud to be a black woman everyday.  Thank you for your patience and not giving up on me. It's truer now more than ever that we can do anything through Christ that strengthens us. And our duty?  It's to remind every single person we come across that insecurities don't go in a day, habits die hard and time is a perfect healer.  The struggle may not be publicised but it truly exists.  But there is no way we are all still alive not to make our own impact, to build on life's little lessons everyday.  I hope you enjoyed our solo trip as much as I did. It feels good to be one step closer to liberated.


SB xx

SBism™: Relationship 101

I started writing this believing, for the most part, that I do not consider myself sexy. On a day-to-day basis I work with what sleep and the scales bless me with, with somewhat of a resigned understanding that hubby-to-be will really have to push through if he happens to meet me on a weekday. Moreover, when I do make an effort, I now mainly admire the fact that I've found a dress that does not require Spanxs (it is, after all, a lifestyle 😉). That geeky woman that shakes her booty in the mirror when she's alone but is too shy to do it one-on-one in front of a hot guy I most certainly am. I was so sure of my status, I looked up the definition of sexy with the intention of listing exactly how I did not fit the description. Then I read it clear as day. Exciting. Appealing. Attractive. I would be a liar if I didn't consider myself these things.

My ability to hold an intelligent conversation with a man, igniting those sparks, that chemistry, with witty banter and hotly debatable topics is my definition of choice. Yet, to deny my physicality would be highly naive on my part. At least I've learnt that now. For years I've struggled, and sometimes still do struggle, with that side of me. As I've gotten older it's become clearer that attraction is subjective and if you're physically attractive to someone, there's not much you can do about turning that off completely. Put on weight? Not a huge factor. Less figure-hugging outfits? With an ass on blast and a sizeable waist:hip ratio, that notion died quicker that rice falls at a wedding. Not to put it all on the opposite sex though. I'm a sucker for chemistry. Not so much about type (although my blacker berried men have got the slight jump 🍇) but the aforementioned banter can unconsciously shift into flirtation on my part if that chemistry is there. However, here's the thing about sexiness, about flirtation, about physicality in its rawest form. If you aren't aware of it, it has the ability to overwhelm. Like I mentioned before, I struggle with my own. I'm truthful in my knowledge that social media is indicative of moments in time and I am unashamedly the first to admit that my moments can be when I put the best hourglass poses forward. But those images aren't the full story. And when I connect with someone and evoke that flirtatious side to me that 'fits' my body, it's still hand in hand with the SB the homebody who could watch reruns of the Good Wife all day. Whilst the focus may be on the former side for him, my focus is always on both because I live it. In the past, I genuinely thought that the two were also evident to all but people see what works for them. And so, I find myself at the stage of trying to understand the balance of flirtation.

 I would, again, be a liar if I said I wanted no attention. I am who I am and was fearfully and wonderfully made (thanks be to God). But there is a need to be conscious of exactly who you are, your physical impact and not letting it emit false intentions for you. Whilst I've had guys try to force the agenda, I too am, and have seen many women, guilty. Guilty of not understanding that even the most innocent of actions can play their part in placing the focus on the wrong place of a budding friendship or relationship. Not to play the blame game here. I am a firm believer that each situation is unique. But it's important to being aware of your interactions at all time. Chemistry is biological, and flirtation is psychological but sense rules all. Ladies, we especially have the bigger part to play. Communication is goal-orientated but patterns highlighted around communication in the form of flirting indicate that "men view flirting as more intimacy-driven whereas women are more inclined to more fun and relational motives" ¹. A bit of a 'no-shxt-Sherlock' observation but I had to remind the ones in the back.

I wish I could advise on ways to stay conscious, like I normally do in my posts, but I haven't quite got this one figured out yet. I'd definitely say be honest at all times if things are going left and SNTCT: Say No To Community Chat. Those compliments that have done the rounds are not for you boo and should not trap you into those conversation-turning responses. I think mainly is to just be real with yourself. If you think it'll be misinterpreted, it probably will and if you want to take the risk then do you. But keep it 100 percent; if we ask for a man's intentions to be transparent, then so should ours. As always, I hope this helps someone on their journey. If you'd now kindly excuse me, I'm off to practice my mirror moves.

SB x

Spotlight: SuyaSpot

The first Spotlight on Life Without Spanxs had to be different and dear readers, I’ve delivered. Switching over from fashion to food *mini squeal for my fellow foodies* and shining an inaugural light on the men this time, SuyaSpot is definitely a brand to be reckoned with. Headed up by brothers Tomi & Tobi Akinbolagun and Folaju ‘FJ’ Oyegbesan, the suya-centric pop-up is the perfect balance of great vibes and moreish bites, bringing the kind of spice needed to London’s cultural melting pot.

Now about to see their 4th event come to life, I can personally say how much I have enjoyed watching the brand grow and meeting the eclectic mix these gentlemen bring together. Below, we discuss all things SuyaSpot; from the vibrancy of African heritage being at the heart of the brand to building on past experiences and personal strengths to take their events to the next level. Read on and, if you’re lucky, you may just learn a li’l something about bringing the heat to your love life.. #ChickenWingsShowCharacter

SuyaSpot: the brand

From bar talk to building blocks.. 

Tomi: Well, the concept for SuyaSpot was born in a bar one Friday night in 2016. The three of us met up for drinks after work as we tend to do with a number of other friends too. Amongst many other topics of discussion, we started to talk about food and the lack of African cuisine on the London culinary scene. A few ideas were bouncing around on the kind of ventures that could potentially work and fit in to where there was existing demand. Suya was one we all had passionate ideas on, after a few back and forths we arrived at the SuyaSpot concept and name. I was particularly keen to ensure that this wasn't another idea that fell by the wayside and started investigating venues and an executable project plan. Now here we are 3 events later and still growing.

Dealing with challenges head on 

Tomi: The whole planning process has actually been pretty seamless and anything that may have initially appeared as a challenge we've attacked head on. Naturally, there were lessons to be learnt
from our first event, which have been applied to each following event and we've seen that learning process pay off.

Support Squad goals 

All: We have learnt from the lessons of the first event and are not afraid to ask for a hand or two. The guys you see in the SuyaSpot badges are the SuyaSpot squad, they’re our close network of friends who are all highly skilled professionals in media, marketing, writing and cooking yet they lend us their hands, helping out in areas often outside their comfort zone to make this dream a reality, without the squad these events would be a myth. Our families have also been incredible providing us with their time, resources and much needed words of encouragement, will never forget how proud they were after that first event. And of course the fans, we love the positive vibes everyone comes with to each event. Seeing their big smiles and hearing those hearty laughs at each event, motivates us to keep on going.

SuyaSpot: the experience 

Tomi: Food is at the centre of what we do, so this always will be the area we ensure is of the highest standard and it’s imperative that our attendees have an incredible tasting experience. Based on the feedback we've received so far, this appears to hold true. Beyond the menu, is the energy and ambience at our events. There's a soul and vibrancy to Africa and Africans when it comes to gathering. Whether that is for a meal at the dinner table or for the celebration of a life event, the vibe and soul of Africa is always tangible and this is something we're keen to capture and infuse all our events with. Each Suya Spot is such a great time and you'll enjoy more than just the food. The music and the variety in our attendees is also a unique element to each of our pop ups.

FJ: We want to recreate the experience of having a good home cooked meal with your family but away from your family and everyone that comes should feel right at home.

On balancing work and SuyaSpot event planning

Tobi: We all work to our strengths and sharing responsibilities really helps lessen the load. My primary focus is on maintaining our identity in the food we serve which is a lot more involved than it sounds. Suya is and always will be central to what we do so my most important role is ensuring the quality of the Suya is consistently high. Each item that makes the menu needs to be thoroughly tested and refined; this can often take a month or so in and around our busy schedules. There are a couple pages of ideas, but we are currently planning the special features for our summer events, it’s going to be sensational!
I am fortunate to have some flexibility around working hours, I will typically work from home the Friday before each event which helps if there are deliveries to be taken or orders to be finalised. However the bulk of the shopping and prep is done on the Saturday as we want our food to be as fresh as can be. Every SuyaSpot event has involved pulling at least one all nighter in the run up to the big day but as we learn the tricks of the trade we are becoming more efficient with prep, maybe we’ll even manage to get some sleep before the next event!

FJ: I am lucky enough to work for myself, so I am able to allocate as much time is needed to SuyaSpot. Also having three people dedicated to the vision helps, like Tobi said we share responsibilities and pick up the extra workload if one of us is busy or not readily available.

SuyaSpot: The men behind the machine

Date night x SuyaSpot – let’s bring the fire! 

Tobi: Haha, I love this question. As you know we don't really do the whole three course thing, it's a bit too formal but if it was a really really special date with an immensely special lady then here's how it would go.

Starter - BBQ corn x Suya Butter, let's start the meal with something simple, sweet and fun. This is one of my favourite sides. The soft juicy corn is contrasted in parts by coal caramelised kernels, not only is it ridiculously tasty but there's also some symbolism here; the butter is going to melt all over the cob as she will in my arms by the end of the night.

Main - Beef Suya, our take on a timeless classic. The heat of the Suya is unencumbered. Ginger and chilli are two of my favourite spices, not only do they make the base of yaji (Suya spice) but they are also well known aphrodisiacs. That ought to heat things up and help this date along! Our cooling salad will help control the rising fires, after all we want this date to last all night.

Dessert - Plantain Pie. This game changing pie is making a debut at February's pop-up and is me on a plate. We’ll start from the bottom up, there’s the traditional well grounded short crust base topped with a soft, smooth, familiar but unique plantain filling finished by the hardened gold caramel crumb. All together this is a well-balanced and truly outstanding specimen.

FJ: Mmm... A SuyaSpot date night event this could be a new thing but back to your question.

Starter - I would say the Gizodo probably it’s the only thing we have on the menu that is kind of like a starter and it’s probably the easiest thing to eat on the menu at the start of the date. Imagine eating the BBQ corn x Suya Butter like you are playing the harmonica at the start of the date, it would be a madness.

Main – I would say a combination of the Beef Suya and Suya Wings in a sharing platter, it would be nice to see dynamic over sharing food – who goes for the last piece? Do they offer first or just grab the last wing? Also how you eat a chicken wing is crucial to character judgement, you have to see if they clean the bones, leave some bits on the bone or they chew the bone (stay away from that person!).

Dessert – The most important course on the date, in my opinion, when I pick a restaurant for dinner I always check the dessert first. If they have a good selection then I go. So for this SuyaSpot date it would be the new Plantain Pie, I tried the finalised recipe over the weekend and it was banging. It would be great to share with someone you like, personally I would get two cause Joey doesn’t share food.

Individual personalities can create a synergy 

All: It's amazing how our respective strengths compliment to make this work. Tobi is the creative one in the kitchen so everything to do with the menu from prep to presentation he's got that covered. FJ is our resident creative; his eye for aesthetics ensures our brand is consistent throughout all our platforms. He works passionately to communicate our story through his photography and design background. Tomi is the man with the plan; he gets stuff done and works on SuyaSpot to keep us all focused and moving in the right direction. We're all perfectionists in our respective areas, but it's awesome to have someone from another perspective help critique your thoughts and ideas.

Next stage for SuyaSpot.. 

All: With only 3 events under the belt so far, we re still newbies on the food scene, but with every event we improve and refine our offering. This year we aim to continue putting on #SuyaSundays at least once a month keeping the same consistent standard of sumptuous spicy BBQ'd food, in a warm and friendly atmosphere.

 SuyaSpot in 3 words? 

Tobi: Family, Food, Fire | FJ: Passion, Legacy, Love
Tomi: Family, Heritage, Soul

Looking forward to Sunday like the electric slide at a wedding! You can buy tickets (£3) for the next pop up this Sunday here

Follow SuyaSpot on Twitter (@suyaspotuk), Facebook (SuyaSpotUK) & Instagram (@suyaspotuk).

Photography by Folaju Oyegbesan