A Note From Ali
“Shadé once told me that in her experience "women carry the culture" and I have had a similar experience being raised in a Guatemalan American home. One of the reasons I started Nena & Co. was because I wanted to immerse myself into my Guatemalan culture and teach my kids where they come from. When I look for people to collaborate with, I look to feature artists that have depth and exude individuality. When I came across Printed Pattern People I was infatuated with Shadé’s Nigerian American heritage and the way she presents her work to her viewers. She made me want to learn more about her and when she agreed to be a featured artist at Nena & Co. I was able to learn so much more about her, and I realized that we had so much more in common; not only as designers but from a family values standpoint. Shadé and I both started women owned businesses that pay great tribute to our family heritage and we are also trying to present them to people in a way that makes them feel more comfortable with integrating different patterns and symbols into their wardrobe and home. The design Shadé created for Nena & Co. was made after she explored our brand and the Nena Society and it was then that Shadé wanted to focus on symbols that represent prosperity, strength of community. We named this collaboration “Prosperity” and the finished product is a true collaborative effort and melting pot of culture; the pattern was designed by Nigerian American artist Shadé Akanbi, printed on organic cotton canvas here in the USA and assembled into the finished tote and clutch that is adorned with our customer formulated full grain leather by our leather craftsmen in Guatemala. I’m so proud and excited to finally release Prosperity to the Nena & Co. Society”
-Ali, CEO and Founder of Nena & Co.
The Featured Artist
Nena & Co. is proud to feature and work with Shadé Akanbi, founder and designer of The Printed Pattern People. Raised in the Bay Area of California, Shadé credits her Nigerian-American upbringing and extensive international travels as her main creative influences for designing. With a Studio Arts degree from Spelman College and an Accessories Design degree from Fashion Institute of Technology, Shadé works as a freelance surface print/pattern, apparel and accessories designer in New York City. From her Brooklyn home, Shadé currently shares her work with several brands at a time while cultivating an ever-growing global textile collection filled with influential prints, patterns and colors.
As the Creative Director and designer of Printed Pattern People, Shadé translates traditional ethnic patterns and textiles into modern reinterpretations for everyday wear. She seeks out textiles rich in color, print, pattern and texture from artisans around the globe, to incorporate into their line and to showcase the handmade work and love of these cultures in their pieces.
The Meaning Behind The Pattern
As Shadé began the design process for our collaboration, she did a lot of research and wanted to provide a design that had significant meaning not only for Printed Pattern People but for Nena & Co. as well. She loves the meaning behind symbols, and everything in her culture is symbolic, which really resonates with Nena & Co.
In West African culture, the cowrie shell is a type of currency, and has come to represent prosperity. It represents not only money, but prosperous relationships with your friends and family. It is the cowrie shell that inspired the name for this collection. The cowrie shell in this pattern is enclosed in a diamond. Every time a symbol is enclosed it is a symbol of community, which is a beautiful touch to bring both of our brands and communities together. The separated triangles in the pattern are symbols of strength.
When all of the symbols and colors are brought together, it makes a beautiful work of art.
Good To Be Good Foundation
We are honored to be partnering with the Good to Be Good Foundation to help provide relief, support and essential items to those who are experiencing poverty, marginalization, adverse social circumstances, and domestic violence during this COVID-19 pandemic. 10% of the profits made this week from our #NenaProsperity Collection will go towards this effort.