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12 months of creating a diverse art world, one artwork at a time.

Name: Ayok’a

Born on: 17/10/2017

Weight: a ton of creativity and talent

That’s what our birth certificate would have looked like if we had one. It’s official, Ayok’a is one year old! It’s a milestone that naturally lends itself to some introspection; so we wanted to relive some of our most significant memories with you, who have made this adventure possible with your support and purchases.

We started with a bang, in the shape of a video interview on BBC Afrique. It was the ideal way to share our mission with the world: showcase the talents of black artists and provide at an affordable price, contemporary products inspired by African and black culture.

Other features followed in publications we admire such as Ogojii, The Voice Online, Atelier 55 and Okay Africa. Our founder was also interviewed on several podcasts, including Making Money Moves.

About 6 months into our adventure, we moved beyond our online interactions and attended Pop up Africa and later Africa Utopia at the Southbank Centre in London to connect directly with our customers.  It was heartwarming to make the consensus across all age groups and see our products celebrated for being expressions of diversity and inclusivity.

These sales events and press features boosted our visibility from the onset, resulting in sales for 75% of the artists on our platform. 

We finish the year the same way we started it, on a high note that came courtesy of two very different collaborations. First, we teamed up with Ayiba Magazine and Vlisco, the leading manufacturer of wax prints. Two of our artists were commissioned to create exclusive artworks featuring wax prints for Mystique Afrique, an art and culture event organized in Toronto.

Then in October, in conjunction with other brands, we attended our first trade show in Paris: Who’s Next.

As is the case with any new start-up, our momentous year was also filled with challenging moments. Growing on a tight budget and having a limited time required us to constantly make tough decisions. For every opportunity we seized, whether it was a collaboration, an event or even a published piece of content, there were 10 more we couldn’t pursue, and that was at times a hard pill to swallow.

However, on the whole, it was a year filled with lessons and our main take away is that people have a real appetite for unique artistic products that speak to them. We have started shipping to the US and Canada ahead of schedule, giving us a glimpse into the potential of these regions alone.

We wouldn’t have been able to achieve any of this without you. Every single one of your purchases has contributed to both turning our idea into a viable business and rewarding the creative efforts of the artists on the platform.

We are excited about the future, and we will continue to offer you artworks from our existing line-up of artists as well as newcomers. Our mission, a more diverse art world that is a reflection of the multicultural world we live in, is way bigger than us. In that spirit, we will bring you stories of Black creatives who share our ethos and in their own ways and in their own industries are working towards the same goal.

We couldn’t finish without proposing a toast, at least a virtual one anyway. Here is to another exciting year surrounded by a growing community of art lovers. Thank you for being part of our journey.

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