Saturday was an incredibly hectic day for me. I was up at 6am for a sponsored walk (Lekki 1 – Falomo Bridge and back again) as one of the events to commemorate my dear uncle and godfather’s 25th year anniversary of his architectural practice. I couldn’t help thinking: ‘but wait, Uncle here has been paying salaries for 25 years, which is almost as long as I’ve been alive, keeping calm and not seeming stressed at all – huuuuuge kudos’. This is me who feels resentful when small direct debits like phone bills etc come out of my account. Clearly I have a long way to go yet, LOL.
And then after that, I had committed to working at the Regalo stand at Lost in Lagos. Lost in Lagos is a great lifestyle resource for Lagos run by a lady called Tannaz Bahnam – she basically tells you the where and when of what’s happening in Lagos and she gives publicity to a whole range of exciting events, businesses and products, mostly via newsletter. Although I was dog tired by the time I arrived at Lost in Lagos, I perked up once I got there, because I saw a few stands (many of them food based, but not all) that made for a fun and adventure-packed event.
Below is a run through of my favourite exhibitors from the event.
Regalo is a project I am involved with, set up by my aunt and we had a stand at Lost in Lagos. Regalo is a wonderful emporium of African made luxury/fine goods. It ranks sustainability and ethics on exactly the same level as taste and aesthetics, so what you get is a treasure trove of some known and some slightly more exclusive brands, all authentically African, and all of world-class quality being retailed here in Lagos. The products are carefully selected for the discerning customer who likes discreet but tangible luxurious quality and values a whisper of elegance above loud branding and labels. The shop is as the CentroLekki Mall in Admiralty way if you feel like dropping in – there’s still time to pick up a few thoughtful gifts for Christmas. And finally, thank you to everyone who came out to support us!
I had the most fragrant and fantastic coffee I have even had in Lagos. Have you heard of a brand called Neo? Neither had I, until Saturday; but I tell you it was beautiful coffee – Rwandan made, and mixed by an award-winning barrista. No seriously, he won some award, though I forget the name now. Over the course of the fair, in and out of attending to customers, I had two cappuccinos (N500 each) and a delightful Americano (N400). I also bought three bags of their ground coffee (N1,100 each) and have stashed these very nicely in my store cupboard at home. Christmas season, here we come! Apparently, they have a coffee shop in VI on Aboyade Cole, near the Nail Studio, with free wifi, and a nice theme going, so do stop by if you can, whether just to enjoy a coffee or to hold a meeting while you’re running other errands in town. They also have an express stand in Lekki, on Victoria Arobieke outside Beehive and I am ashamed to say that I did not know this until I met them at the fair… I was so excited about the coffee that I started talking to someone standing near their stall about it, asking him whether he liked it and telling how much I enjoyed mine. He let me finish my gushing and then pointed to his t-shirt. Yes, he was wearing a Neo t-shirt and turned out to be the owner of the brand, no less. There I was preaching not only to the converted, but to the evangelist himself. I had a good laugh at myself at that moment but looking back, I’m glad it happened because good, honest, positive feedback was given and received without any obligation, and I think it’s nice for brands to get that sometimes. Hahaha.
They had me at the marrow and spinach. Both of these green goodies, sitting just so on the table, looking so delectable and fresh and impossibly good for you. – I couldn’t resist. They had baskets and baskets of fresh produce, from fresh herbs like coriander and parsley to efo and onions and tomatoes and salad greens, all grown and sourced locally. I spoke to Lanre Shashore who runs it, and was impressed to find that their supply/value chain is entirely Nigerian. I was very impressed by the professionally packeged bags of Ofada rice and garri which are produced in Abeokuta. There is so much food in this country, it is just beautiful. The best thing about these guys is that they deliver. So you literally order, and they bring the produce to your door. In one neighbourhood where I lived for some time in London, Abel & Cole were doing a roaring trade. In reference terms, I suppose this is the Abel & Cole of Nigeria. We need to patronise them and support local food businesses. I once bumped into a restauranteur ( I shan’t say which one) in a supermarket and he proceeded to try to impress me by saying that all his ingredients are imported, even the tomatoes. He said it in a boastful manner, as though that was something to be proud of. I decided there and then that I would no longer patronise his establishment. I mean what kind of nonsense is that? You are doing business in this country, sure you can import some stuff, but refusing to use local produce is not something to be proud of, when we have such wonderful produce here in Nigeria if you care to find it. I’m sure brands like the Grocer would not be averse to helping restaurant businesses like this to ensure a steady pipeline of fresh locally grown produce. I will definitely be ordering from them – watch this space!
I forget the name of this brand but I didn’t want to post this piece without including them. They had really stunning looking hampers, all festive and indulgent, mostly filled with wine and chocolate and other luxurious pantry staples. I didn’t get to try anything but they looked very well put together, and I would be happy to receive or send something that looked like this. They are made by a lovely Italian lady called Carole, and she has just started this business. So whether it’s for Christmas, or Valentines Day, or birthdays or whenever, she builds lovely hampers that are different from the usual run-of-the-mill ones you get.
I noticed this brand in Ebeano a few weeks ago while I was idly cruising the aisles. It is a Nigerian brand of baby food which is made up of 100% organic pureed fruits and vegetables. I was initially attracted to the packaging which is bright and colourful, and I was delighted when I found out it is made in Nigeria. You know how excited I am about Nigerian brands doing big things. I am not yet a parent, but if you do have kids or are looking for something to get for someone who does, Tomi’s Treats are one to watch. I actually want to try these flavours and see what they taste like. I am going to pick some up when next I go to Ebeano. For some reason, I am dreaming of the mango one warmed up slightly and drizzled over vanilla ice cream, like a coulis :).
I cannot believe I forgot to take photos of this stand because they were right beside us at Regalo. If you love vintage stuff, which I do, then I am glad to report that Lagos has it’s very own fully-fledged vintage shop. I had no idea. They are based on Muri Okunola and they have a full boutique of vintage finds from jewellery, to accessories, to clothes. Sunshades, rings, shoes, turbans, candles, bags, jackets, shorts, dresses, you name it. On Saturday, I ended up buying a pair of retro sunshades, a pair of earrings, and a necklace/bracelet set. The particular charm with vintage goods is that time has cleansed them of that desperate, garishly new shine, and when you wear them, they lend a certain maturity to the rest of the outfit (when put together well). This lady had some good stuff, I tell you, and I am definitely going to be visiting her shop soon. Also because she had the most adorable baby boy, and I thought he was so well behaved with the hustle and bustle of the fair. He slept like an angel with his little hands clasped on this chest and head turned just so to the side – such a cute and good baby. Honestly, this is the first time I’ve ever felt like famzing with someone because of their baby. He literally was the sweetest, and he made all the Regalo hearts melt. We spent the whole day gushing over him and trying to steal glances without freaking his poor mum out.
Again I forgot to take photos, sorry, but luckily I was able to find a similar dress to the one I got when I came home and looked online. I was minding my business most of the time, but this one dress kept on winking at me. Every time I looked up from the hustle and bustle of selling stuff at my stand, this dress was in my direct line of sight. Eventually I bought the damn dress. Don’t judge me. Ejiro has a wonderful signature wrap dress that she’s designed, and it comes as trousers or iro and buba too. I like how effortlessly glam her clothes are without looking like they are trying too hard. And the fabrics have lots of bold character but are still light and playful. I tried on the green and the purple dresses – both were very flattering but I could only get one so I chose the green as the colour was a bit more unusual and unique. I absolutely love it, and I know exactly which wedding I’m going to wear it to in a couple of weeks time. I have been accessorizing it in my head and I have a really bad feeling that I am going to vex and buy another one. Ejiro Amos-Tafiri retails via Grey Velvet (Ikeja City Mall and CentroLekki Mall). I feel an Ejiro habit forming. Remember me in your prayers, please :).