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Faatimah Mohamed-Luke | Creative Nestlings

Creative Network of Young Africans + Research and Development Agency

Fashion | Dillion Phiri | 9 February, 2017

Faatimah Mohamed-Luke

Founding member of clothing brand Adam&Eve and visual artist Faatimah Mohamed-Luke tells us about the fashion world, the creative community in Cape Town and her recent career shift.

Creative Nestlings: Please introduce yourself to the world.
Faatimah Mohamed-Luke: My name is Faatimah Mohamed-Luke. I am a creative and a founding member of a clothing brand called Adam & Eve; which I’ve helped grow and shape for the last ten years. Six months ago I took a break from fashion to focus on art and interior design, luckily I have two business partners who are happy to continue on the fashion end.

CN: What got you into the fashion world?
FM-L: My mom worked as a patternmaker in a factory since she was twelve. I’ve been in factories since I was a little girl – during school holidays and Saturdays. It doesn’t really feel like I had much of a choice. I was in that world from the beginning.

CN: Great! What’s it like to run a fashion brand?
FM-L: It’s pretty amazing. Having the freedom to design what you, being able to see it become a reality in stores, and have the public liking it and buying it. It’s an amazing feeling; seeing people walking around in something you created. It’s definitely not as glamorous as people think it to be. It’s extremely stressful to coordinate all the different people and processes that go into making a garment. The more successful the brand becomes the more admin, paperwork, and legal compliance becomes important. I’ve learnt the hard way that it’s best to surround yourself with people who are good at different things so that you can share the load and focus on what you are good at.

CN: What were some of the highlights in your journey of being part of the brand?
FM-L: There’s an odd sense of pride that comes from showing at South African Fashion Week. To have garments you’ve spent months creating on a stage with brands you respect and admire. it’s  a great experience, and then to have your work appreciated is amazing. Adam & Eve has showcased collections in London and Scotland as a South African representative. It’s very interesting to see where we fit in globally, and how other nationalities perceive the brand and the country.

CN: Who are some of the fashion brands you like in Africa?
FM-L: I love the South African brand SELFI and the Ghana-based brand Totally Ethnik. My absolute favourite right now is Kisua Africa who really champions African design and invites collaborations with designers across Africa, making the most amazing designs, giving great quality, and is easily accessible.

CN: Dope brands! So, you told us earlier about leaving fashion; what made you leave your brand?
FM-L: Almost every creative I’ve met loves their main focus yet also feels passionate about other creative areas; be it music, architecture, fashion, art etc. I started a fashion brand straight after studying and hustled hard for a decade. I’m blessed now to have a company that is established and partners happy to allow me to try other things which are the biggest reason for leaving; because I can. We all have those amazing ideas that we just don’t have the time to pursue, so for me, it has become the most important thing. Having time to play and experiment has opened up so many new options. My journey is evolving and that’s pretty exciting.

CN: So what’s the new roadmap for you?
FM-L: I’m really enjoying building large scale art pieces out of plastic building blocks right now. I love the medium because it’s relatable and takes some of the pretentiousness out of the usually elitist art world. I love that I don’t need a degree to do what I do and I could teach this skill to anyone excited to learn. I would like to experiment with abstract, landscapes, even portraits, and really push little plastic blocks as a valid medium. I’m planning a few local and international group shows, collaborations with some amazing artists, and furniture options for 2017.

CN: That’s dope! You really got traction for this; Superbalist, Southern Guild, art10k etc. How did that come about?
FM-L: I think people find the art new and interesting. We all have new and interesting ideas, the trick is to drop it in their laps. I emailed stores that I liked and asked them to give me a chance. I emailed pictures to galleries and asked them for feedback and to keep me in mind. I’ve made the most amazing contacts because of Creative Nestlings, and that gets your foot in the door of so many companies. Companies are always looking for new and interesting, so make it easy for them; drop your product right in their laps.

CN: And how do you make money out of it? How has the public received it?
FM: For me, it has worked best to create two avenues for art and revenue. There are the big expensive gallery pieces and because I believe art should be for everyone, I’ve created smaller affordable pieces that sell at Superbalist.com and PRESENTspace. Together these create a steady income stream. When I’m busy building the big pieces the smaller ones are selling and then the big pieces sell while I’m building the smaller ones; it works out nicely. I’ve been amazed at how well the public has received it. People become extremely excited and start touching it and ask how long it has taken to make pieces. It appeals to so many age groups because it’s nostalgic and relevant at the same time.

CN: That’s amazing; the interest peaked quite quick. Glad to see revenue is coming as many creatives have hype but no revenue.
FM-L: Although I’m new to the world of art, I’m not new to design. My experience and contacts have allowed me to push forward faster and avoid traps that would’ve hindered my progress. I know what it’s like to start out and I always offer my advice and contacts to people starting out because I wish I had that when I started out.

CN: What is the Cape Town creative community like?
FM-L: It is as cliquey as everyone says it is. This past year I’ve met tons of new creatives and have found that everyone feels awkward. If you take the first step they are happy to meet you halfway. The creative talent here is crazy, and the hustle in Jozi is strong. I think we can learn a lot from each other. I’ve managed to find some amazing authentic creatives and we are all rooting for each other and it’s a beautiful thing.

CN: What do you think the city needs?
FM-L: It needs more inclusive, well-publicised initiatives and platforms for problem-solving; whether it’s social issues or design thinking. Our youth is unheard and under-nurtured and they are the only ones who will come up with lasting solutions. Right now the most vocal people are those without the life experience needed to solve our biggest issues.

CN: Very true. How has traveling influenced your creativity both in life & work?
FM-L: Travelling is my drug of choice.I don’t smoke or drink so this is where my money goes. Whether it’s a town I’ve never been to a few hours drive away or ten-hour flights. I have to travel at least once a year. It’s inspirational for your creativity; you experience diverse cultures, food, architecture but it also cleans your spirit. It allows you to put life into perspective, realizes how blessed you are and start fresh from a place of positivity and clarity.

CN: You are married to Al Luke who we have spoken to before, what’s it like to be in a creative couple?
FM-L: It’s pretty amazing. We encourage the best in each other; offer objectivity, perspective and strive to be better than our past selves. There’s always room to grow. When you hit a creative block and your partner is trying to help you through, you know it comes from a place of love and appreciation. There’s also the perks of utilizing each other’s strengths and skills to grow and improve your own work which is a massive help.

CN: That’s amazing. Now tell us, what is creativity to you?
FM-L: Creativity to me is the ability to get out of your own head. To push the logic and rules aside and do something that makes your soul smile. Whether it’s cooking without a recipe or painting your version of a flower, creativity is essential to living a full happy life.

More on Faatimah Mohamed-Luke: Facebook | Instagram

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