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


SBism™: Deuces to #NoFlirtFebruary



My first SBism on Life Without Spanxs isn’t what I expected it to be. It comes from a darker place which I only allow those closest to me to see. A place of self-doubt, anguish and genuine confusion. It’s a vulnerable part I like to control (for the most part) as it serves a painful purpose and can become quite indulgent, if given too much attention. But it’s somewhere I have to draw on today, if just to encourage someone else. As I write this, tears trickle onto my keyboard. Not so much for hurt but more for my blessings. I believe the best in people. It’s what I do, it’s who I am and, in an ideal world, it’s where I always encourage others to get to. Most especially in love. Men, however, have tried that blessing and made me wish I didn’t have it in the abundance that I do.



 Now, if you’ve read this far down I have to clarify this feeling does not stem from a few isolated incidences on my part or those I talk to. Rather, it comes from years of observing, listening analysing and attempting to understand the value of honesty and love. For the men who this is applicable to, I’ll address you directly. Why do you lie? Is the need to fulfil that sexual gratification really that overwhelming? The drain on your karma must leave you three shades of mentally inebriated because God knows how you don’t think that shxt won’t catch up with you. I thoroughly respect a man who tells you exactly what he is simply because he shares the choices that need to be made. And the best part? Other women actually agree with me. Yes, you’re welcome. Is it the insecurity of not being accepted for who you are and ‘player prowess’ invigorating your confidence? On behalf on the ladies, I say if we like you, we know why, even amidst the eccentricities. Trust the process and be honest when you doubt yourself for a moment and potentially fxck it up. Cowardice died in the days of Scooby Doo and our childhood cartoons. Or maybe things just change and you aren’t sure anymore. Suck it up and sort it out. Time is a commodity which neither person has to waste. Peace is an even greater one. The power you may consciously (or unconsciously, through lack of communication) wield over another human will never outweigh the peace of treating others the way you want to be treated. Unless you, in turn, want to be treated like a roll on, used to cover the shxtstorm that is another woman’s inability to be honest with you. In which case, ice your relationship needs and invest in some therapy. Seriously, it’s free (https://www.relate.org.uk/relationship-help/help-relationships/relationship-counselling).



I started this month as #NoFlirtFebruary, as my ability to see the best in people has its tendencies to be misinterpreted (and sometimes the wrong guys are still sexy AF – ladies, we’ve all been there). However, mid-way through I’ve consciously killed the notion. Why? I want to ride these growing pains out, and work out the worthy from the #WasteHerTime2017s. Just offloading these thoughts has made that a little easier already.

Though my tears have dried up, my feelings haven’t and, I suspect for some reading this, yours haven’t quite too. As much I want to end this on a quirky positive note, like I normally do, I won’t. However, I will make two vows. You are not alone. The time it takes to deal with being hurt, whether it was quick and dirty or over a longer period, works differently for everyone. But you will get through it and I’m always here if you want a chat. Honestly, no matter who you are. Second vow is that this is the last SBism I will make reference to the perils of singleness and passing through that stage of life. It’s a dimension of myself I care dearly about, given my feelings on the hope in love, but it is one of many dimensions I have. In ripping the band-aid off you expose weaker sides of yourself, like I have today, but some of those sides you eventually leave to heal. Change. Rejuvenate.  It’s not quite the perfect body but the battle scars give you something to tell the kids.

SB xx

Life Without Spanxs!




Keeping it short and sweet -  welcome to Life Without Spanxs (LWS)! I'm so happy I've finally built this platform; believe me when I say it's been a long time coming! For those who visited Gush, Gossip, Blog, my former blog, thank you so much for all your support and encouraging words.  I'm proud of what I achieved with GGB and really looking forward to the next stage with LWS.

I remember the exact moment I came up with the name for this blog.  I was getting ready for a night out and started freaking out because I couldn't find my Spanxs underwear.  This was during a time when I was less confident about my body (thankfully, that's changed now!) and I remember thinking to myself "I want to live a life without Spanxs!'.  Whilst that hasn't happened yet (and may possibly never happen) it led to a year-long journey of self-discovery. I pushed myself to 'rip the band-aid off'; developing my confidence, self-worth and accepting the weird and wonderful things that make me who I am. I'm still on the journey but my aim for LWS is to encourage others to join me.  I thoroughly believe every person is born to be a creator in their own way.  Discovering what it is that you're made to do, however, starts with you. So, ladies, gents, let's do this!

I'll be posting regularly on the blog under four areas (WACCW, Spotlight, Feelspiration and SBisms - more information on my homepage) as well as posting weekly on my Soundcloud and YouTube channels. Subscribe and let's build something together!

SB xx


Regeneration: Stronger || Sexier || Cooler




Back to regular scheduling!  As you can see, I decided to jump in front of the professional lens again and have some fun turning my thoughts into visuals.  As much as individuality is celebrated more and more in society, it's still so easy to fall victim and believe other people's interpretations of your uniqueness. I say throw up the deuces to them! I found myself almost consumed by what others thought of me for many, many years but I'm growing more and more to love all the different parts of my personality and how I represent it outwardly.

I am still the biggest advocate of colour but I chose all black fits because I wanted it to be representative of taking it back to basics - the very essence of anyone's beauty cannot be based solely on how they look outwardly but the spirit they hold within. Never judge a person but their cover but by their character. 
Heels - Nicholas Kirkwood
Sometimes, I want to kick it in my tee and jeans and keep it low maintenance.  Sometimes, I want to dress up and the curves naturally come alive.  Sometimes I strip down to the bare essentials and fight out my insecurities in ways that are my personal therapy.  They are all very different parts of my personality but I embrace them all because they are underpinned by a spirit of happiness, with the intention to bring joy to those I meet and wanting to encourage others to love themselves.

I had the chance to work with my dear friend Ininaa back in February to bring this to life and loved every minute of it!  Even though I was 2 ½ hours late *face palm* she was patient, supportive and maaaaan, does she know how to get those angles!  Safe to say though, I much prefer life behind the lens -  I can be so awkward!  She is available for bookings so contact me if you want a quote :D

Photography by Ininaa Camp

**THIS WAS WRITTEN AS PART OF GUSH, GOSSIP, BLOG, MY PREVIOUS BLOG **


Spotlight: Ibiye Camp


It's been a while since there's been a Spotlight on the blog but it's back with a bang! Known as Ibiye Camp to many, Ibs to a few or Chicken, as her sister affectionately calls her, this lady is a fellow celebrant of what expression is all about - doing something great with your passions.  Turning her love of art across various disciplines into a successful fashion art line - Such A Fan - is no easy feat but, with Ella Eyre and Bluey Robinson as fans and her work being showcased in Sister Magazine, Ibiye takes in all in her creative stride.

Ibiye's journey is one that I've had the pleasure to see over a number of years so when we met up while she shot  new pieces from the line, we talked Fine Art, finding strength in Paris with a li'l Rihanna inspiration and why it's good to talk..

Ibiye the Artist

 

Fine Art Beginnings..

Fine Art Beginnings..


I’ve always known I’ve wanted to do art so it was an easy choice to do my foundation course at Kingston.  You do a number of disciplines; illustration, moving image, fashion design, fine art and you have to pick a pathway.  We were scored within the first few weeks and, even though I scored best in design and worst in Fine Art, I knew I want to pursue Fine Art as I really wanted to paint.  I would create these huge paintings, film myself painting them and hang them in the streets.  I was just as interested in the creation as I was in the finished product.

Studying at Central St Martins

Getting a place at Central St Martins studying Fine Art, I was placed in the XD class which was in north London, a lot further away from the busier main campus.  I tried to change to 2D on the main campus but my tutors reviewed my work again and could see that I had been already been doing much more in terms of multidisciplinary work.  Ultimately, my paintings had become much more than just paint to canvas. 

Overcoming My first Challenge

Part of me knew that XD was a bigger challenge for me as it would help me develop the research and conversational aspects around the artwork I was producing.  My tutors Sarah and Trevor were amazing; I was definitely inspired by their work, and I got the opportunity to explore North London in a new way with other students.   As time went on, I found I was a lot more interested in Performance, as well as Fine Art and my final degree show was a mix of both.  I didn’t get to just do what I was good at but I explored art a lot further and, to quote our class motto, it was about the Xperience!

Paris & Perspective

After graduating from CSM, I went to visit my sister in New York and New Orleans to for a month.  It  was a great time to reflect and to think “what next?”.  I came back and hosted my first show in London with my friend Lina called Beyond Time; it was a participatory show, all about being playful, dancing and getting people involved which was another great way to experiment with performance art.  I also hosted another event and a pop up show in East Street market, making for a very busy summer.  Later spending time in Venice and a longer period in Paris gave me some time to discover other sides of myself and it was during this time I started to work on the concept which developed into ‘Such A Fan’

Doing it for Myself

During my degree, I was commissioned to do paintings for few people and I didn’t really enjoy the experience as my colourful style wasn’t well received.  I went to Paris a good 6-7 months after I graduated and I realised that I wanted to get back to the place where I loved painting again; to regain the love I had from painting when I was a child.  Spending time in Paris, rediscovering my passion and so much more, played a big part in where I am now.


 Ibiye the Woman


Artist vs Designer

I really don’t see myself as a designer, having started the ‘Such A Fan’ range. To me,  the denim is a canvas and, incorporating my interests in performance art, people wearing the clothing brings that artwork to life.  It’s a different way of looking at hung artwork; instead of walls you have people.  Self-portraits have always been seen as a gift of luxury and being able to treat yourself to something special.  I wanted to bring that into my designs; it’s about being proud of who you are, whether it’s with  a pair of selfie jeans or a t-shirt showing your love of an inspirational person. 

 


My Inspirations

Frida Kahlo for me, and so many other artists, is a big inspiration as she did portraiture and began to tell stories through her portraiture.  She inspired me from a young age and I’ve found that many people relate with her image on my t-shirt, having grown up with her also. Painting her has shown the power of self-portrait as she was a pioneer of embracing your imperfections, showing that people are beautiful in their own differences. Frida Kahlo is a pretty amazing person.



My Motivators

My sister Ininaa.  She’s the photographer behind all the imagery for the line and has taken me around London with all my crazy demands! My mum, Sokari and dad Alan are also my inspirations; they’re both creators and know the pressures of being your own worst critic so they help with dealing with that.  I’m lucky to have people around me who are really supportive.


 

My Advice to the Newbies

My Advice to the Newbies

Always create what you love.  When you take in consideration your target market and pricing you got to make something that you would be happy to buy yourself and love.  I’d also say to keep talking to people about your ideas; it allows to think more about what works, what doesn’t and how people react to them.


My favourite item from the collection?

It would probably be a combination of my favourite image of Tiffany, the beautiful model used to debut the line,  wearing the Rihanna jeans that I made as they were the first pair of jeans I created; I actually sent them to Rihanna so I hope she got them! I also love the Kanye jeans, they’re a mix of smiling Kanye and that infamous Kanye Scowl.
  

Ibiye in 3 words?


Not too sure; I’m still working it out!

A woman as beautiful as her art!  You can buy Such A Fan items on www.ibiyecamp.com, follow Ibiye on Twitter (@ibiyecamp), Facebook & Instagram (@ibiyecamp).  If you'd like to meet Ibiye in person you can go to the following places:


She'll also be doing a show with jewellery designer Charlotte Agullano and nail artist Metta Francis - stay tuned!


Photography by Ininaa Camp