Claire Requa

Claire Requa: B.W.I.E 10th Anniversary Shero

Claire Requa, Designer: B.W.I.E 10th Anniversary Shero

B.W.I.E 10th Anniversary

Black Women in Europe Blog™ 10th Anniversary notes:

I chose Claire Requa to be a Black Women in Europe Blog 10th Anniversary Shero because she makes beautiful things. I first blogged about Claire in March 2011 and she made our Power List in 2013. She makes beautiful things to adorn the body or celebrate the home. She’s won multiple awards for her creations and she’s sharing that award winning talent with us by dedicating two pieces of jewelry to our anniversary. You can grab the earrings and necklace on Etsy and admire them up close and personal.

Thank you for adorning us with your talent Claire.

Black Women in Europe Blog 10th Anniversary Afro girl earrings and necklace

Clairely jewellery - Earrings - Afro girl - pink

Clairely jewellery – Earrings – Afro girl – pink

Clairely jewellery - Necklace- Afro girl - mirror

Clairely jewellery – Necklace- Afro girl – mirror

 

Claire Requa
Claire Requa

Claire Requa, American-Jamaican designer, did shows in 1975 at Devon House craft fairs, moved to Los Angeles in 1980 where she had a small fashion line of tie-dyed clothing. She has lived in Copenhagen since 1988.

In the 1990’s Claire Requa owned her own design shop /studio where she show-cased her own, as well as other international products and designs. Multi-faceted, her range of talents over the past three decades include clothing, textile and jewellery design, furniture “redesign”, interior innovations and renovations, graphic design and most recently, lamp design and product development.

From 2000-2007 working as a graphic designer by occupation for a product marketing company, Claire Requa was commissioned to design a lamp for an interiors publication in 2004. A prototype was made and put into production. This gave her inspiration to do more lighting.

Claire de Lune® Chandelier
Claire de Lune® Chandelier

In 2005, Claire Requa launched her own lighting creation Claire de Lune® Chandelier– a flat pack chandelier in polypropylene, PP, (and recently in acrylic), and branded her line of lighting products Claire de Lune®. She has also conceptualized and designed the carrying bag in PP as the packaging of the lamp, instead of using bulky cardboard that products typically are packaged in – making the product easy to carry from the retail outlet and very reusable. Exquisitely rounding out the concept, both the bag and the lamp are eco-friendly, and the consumer is encouraged to dispose of it in like fashion.

Claire Requa is an emerging talent and a true Designer Without Borders, taking inspiration from her current country of residence, her heritage and colorful cultural background and mixing it with her whimsical humour and creativity as well as function, to give the designs that are extremely unique and innovative expression. Claire’s creations have been featured in Danish interior magazines – Madog Bolig, Bo Bedre, Bolig Magasinet, foreign magazines such as Swiss Ideales Heim and UK’s MIX interiors, German Atrium, as well as included in blogs on Trendcurve.com and Homedecorhq.com and Design Sponge, to name a few.

She has exhibited at the following trade shows: Formland, Denmark; Tendence, Germany; Ambiente, Germany; Pulse, England; Maison et Objet, France; ICFF, NY, USA; IMM, Cologne, Germany, New Delhi, India. Most recently, has won design awards from Italy.

Claire's awards
Claire’s awards

For further details: info@clairerequa.com


Meet all of our Anniversary Sheroes.

DJ Candice McKenzie

Lyota Swainson by Odou John Andrews 150x150 Ellen Kountz: B.W.I.E 10th Anniversary Shero

Holistic hair care specialist Lyota Swainson

Ellen Kountz

Financial guru Ellen Kountz

Lola_Akerstrom_Headshot_2015 - 300px

Photographer Lola Akerstrom

Lesley-Ann Brown

Poet Lesley-Anne Brown


 

Lesley-Ann Brown

Lesley-Ann Brown: B.W.I.E 10th Anniversary Shero

Lesley-Ann Brown, Poet: B.W.I.E 10th Anniversary Shero

B.W.I.E 10th Anniversary

Black Women in Europe Blog™ 10th Anniversary notes:

I picked Lesley-Ann Brown to be a Black Women in Europe Blog™ Shero because of her beautiful way with words. She’s a prolific poet and essayist with her own publishing imprint as well as dedicated mother, activist and wordsmith. I first blogged about Lesley-Ann in April 2008. Lesley-Ann also knows how to pull together a picnic in Copenhagen where a sister can meet other funny, inspiring and lovely sisters. Somehow Lesley-Ann found the time to write two poems to commemorate the Black Women in Europe Blog™ 10th Anniversary. How fortunate are we? Download your copy now.

Tak Lesley-Ann. Thank you for choosing your words wisely.

Hair Now
(A Poem for Black Women in Europe)

The memory of mother
(A Poem for Black Women in Europe)

Lesley-Ann Brown

Lesley-Ann Brown is an educator and writer. She writes for NBCBLK and has contributed to anthologies, both in Denmark and in the U.S. She blogs at www.blackgirlonmars.com and you can find all her recent writing here www.lesleyannbrownwrites.wordpress.com. She is originally from Brooklyn, New York and studied writing at the New School.


Meet all of our Anniversary Sheroes.

DJ Candice McKenzie

Lyota Swainson by Odou John Andrews 150x150 Ellen Kountz: B.W.I.E 10th Anniversary Shero

Holistic hair care specialist Lyota Swainson

Ellen Kountz

Financial guru Ellen Kountz

Multi-award winning photographer Lola Akerstrom.

Photographer Lola Akerstrom

Indra Rios-Moore in Denmark: Every story has a start, middle and an end.

Hat tip: Lorraine Spencer

Indra

Indra Rios-Moore’s story begins on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, continues across the Atlantic in Denmark, but as yet has not come close to reaching a climax, or thankfully an ending. Like every good story it has had twists along the way, ups, as well as downs, joy and pain, but also sacrifice and success. If art reflects life then it is little wonder that Indra’s album, Heartland is eclecticism in the extreme…it is an album that is both intensely personal but also broad in its musical sweep. Hardly surprising given Indra’s story.

Indra, named by her mother after the Hindu warrior deity of the sky and the rain, was born to a Puerto Rican social worker, Elizabeth, and an African-American-Syrian jazz bassist, Donald Moore (his credits include, the New York Contemporary Five, Archie Shepp, Elvin Jones, Sonny Rollins, and Jackie McLean). Growing up in a tough neighborhood, Indra spent her formative years in an imaginary world with her mother’s extensive record collection of jazz, soul, and rock music for company.

Singing was always a private experience for Indra, but at the age of 13, her mother convinced her to audition for a place at Mannes College of Music; despite her inhibitions about her singing Indra was awarded a scholarship. Indra developed her soprano voice and during the same year that she started studying at Mannes, she attended the Village Harmony, summer camp in Northern Vermont. Her teenage years were spent in a musical parallel existence; one full of classical arias and vocalization practice and the other filled with traditional American folks tunes and old Balkan folk songs in the woods of Vermont. 

While working as a waitress in a Brooklyn wine bar, she met Benjamin Traerup, a Danish jazz saxophonist; three weeks later they were living together and one year after that they were married and living in Denmark. According to Indra,

“If I hadn’t been young and a little stupid I would never have moved to Denmark, but I was in love, and I still am, so it was a pragmatic choice. It took me four years to learn Danish, as it is not a language that falls naturally from an American tongue. In the end we found that creativity was in part born out of hardship.”

Read Indra’s full bio on her website.

http://amzn.to/1H72suR

Introducing the ‘Our Voices” series – From Denmark, Black Girl on Mars

Our Voices

I have been, if not a friend, a friendly acquaintance and fan of Lesley-Ann Brown, a.k.a. Black Girl on Mars since 2006 or so. Her writing is so compelling I am grateful she has agreed to let me share her work here in a new series of blog posts titled ‘Our Voices’*. Her first contribution in this series was originally published on The Murmur.

Right. Wrong. Right. Wrong. Right. Wrong.

Two knitting needles and a ball of yarn – that’s what I used to integrate into the Danish society. Sitting together but separately, I wove myself into the fabric of this culture, though it was my fingers that did all the work.

Right. Wrong. Right. Wrong.

No, I am not being indecisive.

Right. Wrong. Right. Wrong. Right. Wrong. That’s me learning how to knit as, hunched over two knitting needles, I struggle to “capture” the “free” yarn into the stitches already cast onto my needles.

Although the rest of the English speaking world learns to knit purl knit purl knit purl, my teacher Anni, is Danish. She teaches me to ‘ret og vrang’ instead, but all I hear is ‘right and wrong, right and wrong’.

After all, I don’t speak a word of Danish and her English isn’t fluent, but together we are moving into uncharted territory. While I patiently learn to knit, I start my timid journey of learning Danish. And through me, Anni gets to practice her English. It is no wonder that I could read Danish knitting patterns years before I could actually speak the language.

At the time, I am four months pregnant and a new arrival in Denmark. Anni is my mother in law, and I spend hours with her while my then-husband busily prepares for the arrival of our child. During this time together, Anni and I manage to cultivate our own authentic relationship, based on love – a relationship solidified through knitting.

There is perhaps no greater show of love than teaching someone to knit. It requires patience and presence – virtues held by my Danish mother-in-law. Although I am no longer married to her son, she will always hold a special place in my heart. Her teaching me to knit plays no small part in this.

It was through Anni that I was introduced to a tolerant Denmark. An open Denmark. Through Anni I met her Tante Liv, Anni’s fiercely independent aunt. We got along famously. She introduced me to the herbal flowers in her garden and taught me how to make natural teas. Once she leaned in and whispered, “There is something about a young woman moving 6000 miles away from her place of home.”

Tante Liv’s husband, Onkel Per, was a character. He took my pregnant South African friend and me to his boat club in northern Denmark. You could tell he got a kick from all the stares he received, an elderly Danish man with two young, pregnant and very foreign women. I still laugh when I think about that day, the way his big blue eyes twinkled as we sat in his boat, out at sea, and the other boats passed us by.

Tante Liv, as well as the rest of her family, treated me with nothing but love, respect and openness. It was a family of women who read and think. I was in my element. We were of the same tribe, brought together through the craft of knitting.

I had always wanted to learn how to knit. Whenever my grandmother from Trinidad visited us on Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn, smelling like peppermint and airplane, she would always have a few knitting and craft magazines with her.

They were full of knitwear masterpieces and patterns I had not yet learned to decipher. Despite being a renaissance woman of sorts, my grandmother did not know how to knit. She offered other lessons, including her deep, unwavering commitment to me. “You are here for a reason,” she’d whisper in my ear. Her words would soothe my unsettled soul like a cool Caribbean breeze.

My great grandmother Beryl Nunez died from “the draught,” a reference that could just as much allude to the cold as to racism, I suppose, in Canada. She made lace. My other great grandmother, Frances Lopez, also made exquisite handkerchiefs, delicate lace curtains and tablecloths. But despite my burning desire, there was no YouTube back then and no one to teach me. Don’t feel sorry for me; the 80s furnished me with plastic bubble jackets and roller skates. We played ‘run, catch, kiss’ and I mastered Double Dutch. I was happily distracted from myself.

Fast forward. I meet my Dane. We court. I meet his mother. It was love at first sight. My ex-husband and his mother ushered me into Danish culture with love and patience. And I know it was love, because she took the time to teach me to knit.

I have now gone on to teach three grade five classes how to knit and I stood back in wonder as I watched the children teach each other. I saw how boys want to learn how to knit as much as girls. I simmered with joy as the students worked together but separately, sitting quietly and knitting.

When I hold the yarn in my hand, I feel as though it connects me to my great-grandmothers. But it was Anni who brought out that creative energy. Knitting is magic, knitting is healing. Knitting is immeasurable. When you knit, your brain produces beta waves. No matter what troubles me, if I catch a whiff of wool, spy a ball of yarn, or hold a pair of knitting needles (bamboo preferably), I’m in bliss.

My time here has been sustained by the energy knitting has given me. When I returned from my last trip to the States in the autumn, I knew that I wanted to incorporate knitting more into my life. When I was in Rhode Island at the Rhode Island Writers Colony, I went to see the writer Anne Hood read from her latest book, “An Italian Wife”. She saw me in the audience with my knitting needles and yarn, stopped what she was saying and called out to ask me what I was knitting. A baby blanket for my friend’s newborn baby, I replied.

That’s what I love about knitting: it brings people together. So when I returned to Denmark, my intention was to start a knitting group.  I shyly put out a call of interest on Facebook and, to my delight, the Geeky Knitter’s Club was borne. Every week, a group of other expat women and myself gather to knit, talk, and offer support. It is one of the best ventures I have embarked on.

And the kids? Although I am no longer teaching, I still knit with them. All of this I owe to Anni Bomholtz – the most loving of ex-mother-in-laws.

Lesley-Ann Brown
Lesley-Ann Brown

A Trinidadian American freelance writer living in Copenhagen, Lesley-Ann studied writing at The New School, NYC.
Read Lesley’s full bio. It’s fascinating!

*”Our Voices” aims to provide a platform for writers to share their work. The stories may have been published previously and are posted here due to their relevance to the black women’s experience in Europe.

I was a first-time mother, far from home, when I discovered that my three-year-old son had a hearing impairment.

In the 12th article in our “Inside View” series Lesley-Ann Brown shares what her deaf son taught her. Lesley originally published her story on The Murmur.

Black Girl on Mars
Kai. Photo from Black Girl on Mars

I was a first-time mother, far from home, when I discovered that my three-year-old son had a hearing impairment.

It was a shock because he had passed all his hearing tests and was even one of the first babies in my mothering group to say “bye bye” on cue. I thought he was not only developing by the book, but excelling too.

In retrospect, there were signs that something was amiss. When he played alone he was so deeply concentrated that he was hard to reach (“he’s just ignoring you”, people told me), he had a deep physical attachment to me (he would never just run off on his own), he hit other kids in daycare and kindergarten (anything to get a reaction he could understand) and he had started to mouth the words I was saying (apparently he was teaching himself how to lip read).

I was relieved when we received his diagnosis. The worst part was not knowing what was wrong. It also explained so much, and of all the things that could have been ‘wrong’ with my little boy, deafness was certainly not the worst. His father took the news less well. “But I wanted him to study music!” I remember he exclaimed.

We later learned that it’s quite normal for a parent to experience this depression and mourn the “perfect” child they used to have. The trick is to see that your child is still perfect, that they are the perfect expression of what they are meant to be.

Kai’s world blossomed after getting his hearing aids. It was obvious that he needed them from the moment he put them on. Having not heard for so long, he appreciated how this piece of technology could change his life completely.

Fitting in

But even though he took to his new technologically-improved life, I needed him to know he wasn’t alone. I made sure he was surrounded with imagery of other children with hearing aids and brought him into contact with other hearing-impaired children.

Ironically, he isn’t actually “deaf enough” to join the deaf community and we did not have the choice to send him to a special needs school for deaf children. If we had, he would have learned to sign and would now be part of – what I have experienced to be – a proud parallel society with its own culture, identity and role models. Instead we gave him hearing aids and sent him to ordinary schools where he received additional learning support.

This approach is called ‘mainstreaming’ and superficially it sounds like a good idea. If we could choose to be part of a bigger society, wouldn’t we? However, studies have shown that children like my son with moderate to heavy hearing loss tend to experience a lower quality of life than children who are more profoundly deaf. The latter go to school with each other, where they learn sign language and spend time with people who have the same issues as they do. This trend has been changing, to great debate.

Ambitions

Kai is now a teenager and seems to be thriving. His father’s fears were unfounded and he has already been in two bands, playing guitar in the first and drums in the second. He is even experimenting with music production. I’ve seen him design his own t-shirts and his father told me he’s a great skier. I know he’s not too bad on a skateboard either.

He still sticks out, though. One morning, a little girl came up to us and asked me, “Do those hearing aids help him?”

She was sweet – I love it when people just come right out and ask instead of gawking at him. And I understood why she asked. I was on my way to pick Kai up from school one day, when a group of kids from the deaf school boarded at Østerport Station and sat across from me. Despite having a deaf child, and against my better judgment, I stared at them.

I stared at their hands and the speed that they signed. I stared at their hearing aids and wondered if Kai would have preferred hearing aids like the blue pair worn by one of the boys. They didn’t notice me, so wrapped up and secure in their own little world to give me notice. I wish that my son was sitting next to me so we could witness this silent beauty – the incredible ability of human beings to adapt.

Then I remembered the little girl who so openly approached us the other morning. Some day, she and Kai could get on a Copenhagen train and talk, and continue their lives together with everyone else in the city. He too has adapted and, despite his limitations, is thriving.

I remember when he first learned about Einstein and he asked me what type of scientist he was.

“A physicist,” I replied.

“Well, I want to be one like him when I grow up.” I smiled, knowing that Kai didn’t necessarily want to be a physicist; he just wanted to earn people’s respect like Einstein had.

Kai may go on to learn about general relativity. He may even study music at the Royal Academy. We really don’t know what he will do. As long as the society he finds himself in is committed to accommodating everyone, the only limits he will ever experience are the limits he chooses to accept.

Lesley-Ann Brown

A Caribbean American freelance writer living in Copenhagen, Lesley-Ann studied writing at The New School, NYC. Lesley-Ann blogs at Black Girl on Mars.

Claire Requa, Denmark – Powerful woman

Slide 11

Design
Award winning jewelry and lighting designer

Much of my work starts with observing nature, window shopping and seeing what is NOT there, and then to my computer. After 3 years of doing just decor, I went into upcycling the acrylic from the production of chandeliers and CLAIRELY upcycled jewellery was born. Accent has participated in trade shows in Denmark, Germany, England, France and New York, USA. My products have been sold in over 20 countries, Illums Bolighus, Denmark; Normann Copenhagen, Denmark; Chateau Versailles Museum shop, France; ABC Home, USA to name a few.

Visit: http://accentcph.wordpress.com

Black Women in Europe™: Power List 2013 – A List of Our Own©

Slide 1

In 2010 the Black Women in Europe™ Blog released its first Power List naming 58 women across Europe in 6 categories. This year we name 8 women the following categories: Design, Leadership, Politics, Social Activism, and Socialite.

This list, presented in alphabetical order, is intended to acknowledge powerful black women in Europe and to inspire others to reach their full potential.

  • What constitutes power?

Power is defined as the ability to act or produce an effect.

  • Methodology:

The list does not aim to assess rank but rather to showcase influential women who, in some cases well known and in others, are up and coming stars.

Black Women in Europe™: Power List 2013 – A List of Our Own©

Rioch Edwards-Brown, UK

Slide 5
Social Activism
Founder: So You Wanna Be In TV?
Addressing Youth Unemployment And Lack Of Diversity In TV
Endorsed by Secretary Of State For Business Innovation and Skills

A former TV Researcher and Media Campaigner with 16 years experience of television and media work. Expert in placing difficult news stories both in television and the national press . She has over 40 on-screen appearances as an Expert Interviewee – on Newsnight, BBC Breakfast, C4 News, Sky News, GMTV, The Wright Stuff, among many others.

So You Wanna Be In TV? are open to anyone approaching them who want to work in television but don’t know where to start and those whose career path may have changed but need to know if TV is the right move for them.

Visit: http://www.soyouwannabeintv.com

Obiocha A. Ikezogwo, UK

Slide 6
Leadership
2013 MILEAD (Moremi Initiative Leadership and Empowerment Development) Fellow

Citing herself as “an engineer of social justice”, Obiocha is dedicated to promoting the rights and causes of women in her community. Her passion for empowering African women led Obiocha to co-found ‘Yaaya’, a response to the social invisibility and negative stereotypes that shadow them in Europe. Established as a platform for women of African descent to share their achievements, stories, and ambitions, Yaaya aims to promote fairer and positive images of African women in European society. Her dream is for ‘Yaaya’ to inspire meaningful dialogue and action amongst organisations, governments, and civil society, on the issues of African women.

Cécile Kyenge Kashetu, Italy

Slide 7
Politics
Minister for Integration

Cécile Kyenge Kashetu is a Congolese-born Italian politician and ophthalmologist. She is the Minister for Integration in the current Italian government. She has founded an intercultural Association (DAWA) to promote mutual awareness, integration and cooperation between Italy and Africa, particularly in her country of birth, the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is also the spokesperson of the association “March First”, which works to promote the rights of migrants in Italy. In February 2013 she was elected member of the Chamber of Deputies for the Democratic Party in Emilia-Romagna. Two months later she was appointed Minister for Integration in the grand coalition government formed by Enrico Letta, becoming Italy’s first black cabinet minister. She supports the introduction of a Jus soli law to grant citizenship to children of immigrants born on Italian soil.

Visit: http://www.cecilekyenge.it/

Emma McQuiston, UK

Slide 8
Socialite
Viscountess Weymouth

The daughter of a Nigerian oil baron says she faces racism and snobbery from the upper classes unwilling to accept her. ‘There has been some snobbishness, particularly among the much older generation,’ she told society magazine Tatler.

There’s class and then there’s the racial thing. It’s a jungle and I’m going through it and discovering things as I grow up. I’m not super-easily offended but it’s a problem when someone’s making you feel different or separate because of your race. I have never had anything horrible said or happen, but it is something you sense. You can just tell with some people.

Visit: http://emmamcquiston.com/

Justina Mutale, UK

Slide 9
Social Activism
Founder: POSITIVE RUNWAY: Global Catwalk to Stop the Spread

Multi-award winning Founder & CEO of POSITIVE RUNWAY: Global Catwalk to Stop the Spread, a worldwide HIV/AIDS response campaign with presence in over 150 countries, spanning 6 continents spread across the globe. POSITIVE RUNWAY is registered on the United Nations Department for Social and Economic Affairs Civil Society Database, and is also a member of the ENOUGH FOOD FOR EVERYONE IF Campaign, a coalition of leading UK development organisations working to end world hunger. Ms. Mutale hold numerous other honors and titles.

Positive Runway Reel 2012 from SystemENT.com on Vimeo

Visit: http://justinamutale.com/

Ade Onilude, UK

Slide 10
Leadership
Founder: Women in Marketing Awards

Women InMarketing is a forum for showcasing and providing thought leadership for female marketers. The essence of WIM is to educate, inspire, engage and empower. It’s delivered by senior practioners in marketing and leadership via online and offline platforms. After six years of successful annual WIM events held in March to celebrate International Women’s day, and with a succession of successful events featuring prominent speakers from high profile brands, it seemed liked the natural next step. I was truly inspired by the amazing women I had recruited to speak, and their contribution to the success of the organisations they worked for or had created. WIM awards was my way of celebrating their success and through them, inspiring the next generation.

Visit: http://www.wimawards.co.uk/

Claire Requa, Denmark

Slide 11
Design
Award winning jewelry and lighting designer

Much of my work starts with observing nature, window shopping and seeing what is NOT there, and then to my computer. After 3 years of doing just decor, I went into upcycling the acrylic from the production of chandeliers and CLAIRELY upcycled jewellery was born. Accent has participated in trade shows in Denmark, Germany, England, France and New York, USA. My products have been sold in over 20 countries, Illums Bolighus, Denmark; Normann Copenhagen, Denmark; Chateau Versailles Museum shop, France; ABC Home, USA to name a few.

Visit: http://accentcph.wordpress.com

Susan Enie Muyang Tatah, Germany

Slide 12
The Arts: Germany
Founder & CEO
International African Festival

Susan is an Entrepreneur and Visionary and African Leisure tour promoter and events manager. Her goal is to gather and empower the African Diaspora worldwide, irrespective of their country of origin, religious background, gender and status for a short vacation, cultural bath and spiritual pilgrimage once a year at the African village in Tübingen, south of Germany. This is the fastest and largest growing African festival in Germany with more than 30,000 visitors over 4 days.

Visit: http://www.afrikafestival.net

2013 List editor:
Adrianne George

Slide 15

Design (logo and slide show):

Slide 16

Photo research*:
Adrianne George and Mark Derek McCullough
*Every attempt was made to attribute photo credits. Please email contact@blackwomenineurope.com with additional photo credits.