Today, I'll share how I was introduced to fabric and learnt all that I now know.
Some of my earliest memories of time alone with my mother was our trips to go fabric shopping in one of the largest African prints markets in West Africa. It was a hot, sweaty business, lots of walking, huge crowds-a sea of bodies going in all directions, a raucous cacophony of busy-ness. She would either grip my hands so tight and drag me along, afraid to get me lost in the crowds or set me walking in front of her, her sharp reminders from behind kept my little legs pumping as fast as possible.
We would walk so far down the line of shops to the ones at the end of the lane which were usually the dingiest and smelliest, filled to the brim with freshly milled African prints stacked precariously high with barely enough room to perch on a chair. The interminable waits in the tightly cramped stalls that make up African open-air markets was HORRIBLE! I was always imaging the fun I was missing out on back at home.
*Photo credits to buzznigeria.com
Over time, watching her, I learnt to select fabric. I learnt to contemplate both colour and pattern; and pick out the best ones that would be most suitable for whatever purpose I needed, in the midst of so many beautiful fabrics.
It was from my mother that I learnt to appreciate fabric, colour, texture, patterns and grew to love the smell of 100% cotton African prints, it smells like no other, a mix of natural fibers and dyes. I close my eyes and I still hear the sound of her scissors cutting through the fabric for a customer after a purchase. It's not surprising that 30 years later, I will be doing the exact same thing myself, scouring the markets for the best colours, designs and patterns of African fabrics for my customers!