If you’re an Instagram regular and you’re into the kind of mama merch that centres around slogan tees and big prints skirts/dresses/palazzo pants, there is absolutely no way you won’t have heard about Yvonne Telford. She is the mastermind behind the brand Kemi Telford. Yes, her name is Yvonne, not Kemi 😏
I first came across Yvonne back in 2016, while her brand was still called Kemi Kids. I was an instant fan as (1) I had found a Nigerian sister, (2) the name Kemi is very dear to me, (3) she wrote a blog that I loved and I aspired to one day write a blog that I (and others) would love as much, and (4) I loved the “I Am Enough” message that she was promoting. Whether it was about being good enough as a mother, or, more simply, just good enough, when faced with the daily barrage of comparison opportunities flowing from Instagram, hearing the message that each of us offers what we and others need was so refreshing. Back then, it was all about tote bags, clutches, purses and limited jewellery pieces. I remember thinking, “Am I enough? Yes! I am enough! God! I really want one of those tote bags! But, I’m also just a basic b*tch from Enfield. I can’t possibly walk about wearing a slogan tote bag, can I? People will think I’m totally up my own arse, won’t they?” But, guess what? I bought one and I rocked it and I’m not up my own arse at all.
Gradually, more and more people realised how liberating Yvonne’s message was. I definitely noticed that those I followed on Instagram were almost falling over themselves to post a pic in which they were wearing a MAVERICK MAMA clutch or a G.E.M. (Good Enough Mother) necklace. And, when I say “those I followed”, yes, you can include me in that group 😉 At the beginning of 2017, Yvonne’s pieces began to flood Instagram, especially after being seen on the likes of big hitters, such as, Natalie Lee aka @stylemesunday. Remember when we first started seeing those pendant necklaces featuring powerful, positive affirmations: QUEEN and WARRIOR and FIERCE? Remember how we loved them all?
Since then, Yvonne has expanded her brand to include a full line of clothing – everything from slogan sweatshirts (“SOLID GOLD”, “EPIQUE”, “ALWAYS FABULOUS”) to African wax and leopard print dresses, and everything inbetween… and, I’m sure there is more waiting to be released. I especially adore how she has brought African prints to the masses in a totally authentic way.
Authentic is a word that I will forever associate with Yvonne. Oh, and integrity. Yvonne’s gig is to create #sloganwithmeaning while ensuring that she adheres to her #stayinyourlane policy, and she does it incredibly well. She does not use professional models or influencers to market her wares. She asks customers to send her photos of them wearing her clothes/jewellery/bags and she reposts these on Instagram. Authenticity and integrity! Her slogans do not only appear on sweatshirts and tees. Each Instagram post is accompanied by a story from her life, or a quote from someone who has inspired her or a Nigerian proverb that transcends nationality, aka ‘a slogan’. She is proud of her Yoruba heritage and has spoken about her “inbuilt Nigerian arrogance”. To be honest, that is one of the reasons I will always come back to her. Yvonne understands her worth and that is pretty amazing to witness.
She has built this business while married to John and raising 2 beautiful daughters, all of whom often feature in her Instagram posts and stories. Running a successful, small business plus a family is not easy, and Yvonne has also faced adversity along the way. She often opens up to her followers about this. But, nothing is gratuitously done for the likes or the “you ok, hun?” There is always a lesson, a moral, a reason for her sharing. And we are always grateful.
Thank you for letting us have a sneak peak into your life, Yvonne – my personal person 😘
My darling, Yvonne! Please tell us a bit about yourself!
I am a Nigerian woman married to John. We live in Surrey with our two daughters. I work full-time, running my Kemi Telford clothing brand.
Direct and straight to the point. I like it. So, first things first, what time do you get up on a typical weekday morning and what is the first thing you do?
Every day, I wake up at 5.00am (sometimes 4.00am depending on how much I have to accomplish). The first thing I do, before getting out of bed, is to thank the Universe for another day. Then, I grab a cup of hot water, coffee, meditate, read, exercise and do some work. Because I work for myself, I am very flexible with what time I start work.
Sorry, I’m still reeling from this “sometimes 4.00am” wake up. Give me a few seconds, ok? Also, hold up – Breakfast? What is a typical breakfast for you?
Just coffee, as I fast in the mornings.
Oh…that’s not very exciting. Let’s hope lunch is better. What about the girls? How do they feature in your morning routine?
I get their packed lunch ready, wash them (like all Nigerian mums do) and walk them to school. I try to leave the house for school drop off at 8.30am but this never happens. It is more like 8.40am. Our walk to school should take about 15 minutes, but we do it in 10 minutes – we always sprint!
Ha! Sounds very much like my school drop offs! (#neverofficiallylate) So, you’re back home. Tell us about your day.
No two days are the same for me. I pack orders. Get in touch with suppliers. Reply to emails. Do some housework. Basically, I just work until 3:00pm when I have to leave the house to pick up my daughters from school.
Hold up – lunch?
Yes, I have lunch at about 12.30pm. A piece of protein and salad.
Oh…that’s not very exciting *briefly acknowledges de ja vu moment* At this point, I have all my hopes pinned on dinner. What are your girls up to once they get home?
They have a snack, rest and do some studying while I am getting dinner ready.
Sounds reasonable. And you have finally mentioned dinner! Who does dinner in your household?
I make Dinner and dinner is usually 7.30pm, when John gets back home. We sit down to dinner as a family.
Nice, nice…now what are you eating? Make it good…
It is always a hot meal. Mostly roast chicken with vegetables, rice or potatoes. We eat a lot of fish and chicken.
Hmmm… well, I can safely say that you love your protein and veg. Can’t go wrong with roast chicken tbh. What happens after dinnertime?
John and the girls clear up. He gets the kids to bed while I fall asleep on the sofa.
Lol! I should think so! 4 or 5am starts will do that to a person. Do you get any opportunity to relax in the evening?
The girls go to bed at 8.30pm. If I am not yet asleep, my phone will be switched off. I am on the sofa with my husband watching a movie. I am in bed by 10.30pm.
How heavily does social media feature in your day?
Social media is how I market myself and my products, so, it features a lot.
You can shop Kemi Telford here: https://kemitelford.com/
Or you might just like to follow Yvonne on Instagram here: @kemitelford