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Inspired by people: Akudo of Shekudo

With a great enthusiasm in both listening and telling stories, Akudo Iheakanwa, co-founder of Shekudo, has always been pursuing a fusion of tradition and modernity. As a socially responsible label, Shekudo...

With a great enthusiasm in both listening and telling stories, Akudo Iheakanwa, co-founder of Shekudo, has always been pursuing a fusion of tradition and modernity. As a socially responsible label, Shekudo sheds light on local craftsmanship in Lagos, Nigeria. Just like herself, the brand represents the spirit of a modern woman across the globe who pushes boundaries and stands out. 

What was the inspiration behind Shekudo?

Shekudo originally started in Sydney Australia where we created pieces that we loved for ourselves and friends trying to merge an “African” aesthetic with contemporary silhouettes. It was fun, carefree and a chance to express our creativity through a medium we both love: fashion. Now it has evolved quite a bit, (still with similar principles in mind) but more direction and focus. Shekudo prides itself on local artistry and social responsibility with a purpose to generate employment and expose the craftsmanship that is alive and well in Nigeria. 

Why is it important to you that Shekudo sources ethically?

There’s just so many products out there which can’t be traced to anyone, or don’t really have a story to tell. I love being able to wear items that I know represent something or share a story. It’s important to me to be honest and transparent about our products, - to be honest, it was the only option that made sense to me.

What is your favorite Shekudo design from your most recent collection?

Ooo, always a tough one, choosing your favourite design is like choosing a favourite child. But there’s always one isn’t there! Definitely the Kakawa mule and the new Isoken choker - both quite minimalistic pieces.

As an Australian originally, what drew you to Nigeria and its culture?

Well I’ve always had ties to Nigeria as my dad is Nigerian and he and my mum have always made effort to take my siblings and I there since we were younger, so it felt very natural to come back. I like the energy of Nigeria- sometimes it can get overwhelming, but most times it’s just keeps you inspired. Its raw and constantly buzzing and made up of so much personality. We have a lot to offer so I wanted to be a part of sharing that with the world, however I could.

 If Shekudo was a person, how would you describe her?

She’s a colourful spirited soul, aware of herself and her surroundings. Completely unapologetic in how she puts herself out to the world, a woman who doesn’t sweat the small stuff and loves to tell a good story. Quite like many of the women I’ve been blessed to know.

 If you were to have a friend come visit Lagos with you, where are the three places you would make sure to take them?

I would definitely want to mix it up a little and show a few sides to Lagos as it’s so multifaceted.  I’d take them for a local beer and boogie at the Fela Kuti Shrine to watch Fela Kuti’s son (Femi) perform live - it’s like stepping back in time. I’d take them to Lagos Island to meet some of our artisans so they can make a pair of shoes or silver rings to go home with coupled with some local street food (my favs:  moi moi, plantain, fish and rice) and then we would dress up fancy and head over to 16by16 an apartment turned gallery/bar followed by funky NOK @ Alara for dinner.

Vogue or CN traveller?

Depends on the day and what mood I’m in, but definitely both.

What is a common misconception people have about Nigerian culture?

That it’s always rough, people are getting killed and kidnapped left right and centre. Look I’m not going to lie - those things are true to a certain extent (I mean, everywhere has its own risks to varying degrees), but it shouldn’t be the first thing people think of when they hear “Nigeria”. It’s all changing and people are recognising Nigeria more for the ever expanding events + music scene, the art, the glorious fashion, the entrepreneurs, the food. Most - when they come here say that it’s made them feel even more alive. To me, that’s Nigeria.

What are you excited about in the future for Shekudo?

Growth, change and being able to work with more women. We want to take Shekudo up a notch to be able to sustainably employ more people and create more of an impact in the local economy. We want to contribute towards the manufacturing sector here so that we can show the importance of diversification away from our much relied on Oil sector. So much to come, can’t wait!



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