Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Nigerian expat in London revives the art of the telegram

My Twitter friend Yemmi Agbebi, originally from Nigeria and a long-time resident of the United Kingdom, recently founded a new company, Telegramwire. Below is the company's press release (with British spelling, of course!). 

London, England - BBC Inspired News Broadcast, Inspires Telegramwire, A Worldwide Telegram Messaging Service And "Greeting Card Killer" which Launched December 16, 2013.

A BBC News broadcast of the closure by India of it's 160 year old #Telegram service, was the inspiration behind a new Berkshire dot-com and start-up, #Telegramwire, which is based along UK's M4 Berkshire Corridor.

#Telegramwire is a Worldwide, cloud based, Letter Telegram service, which gives control back to customers, to create and send, original and thoughtful contents in the form of telegram cards to friends, families and loved ones. Telegramwire's Letter Telegrams, are suitable for celebrating a range of special and exciting moments including birthdays, christenings, engagements, bar mitzvahs, weddings, new baby, get well and so forth.

Unlike pre-printed or online greeting cards which tends to recycle the same "production line" sentiments and poetry, Telegramwire gives customer the freedom to create unique, contextual and personalised greeting telegrams. This sender and recipient centric approach, encourages customers to do two things: (a) deploy their creative writing skills to create memorable telegram greetings that a recipient would value (b) the opportunity to engage the receiver, no matter how brief, on the common ground of memory; in order to write something meaningful and personally relevant; and which achieves something of an emotional connection between sender and receiver.

Telegramwire carefully laser prints each telegram message, on a retro-style Telegram Form, using a unique and evocative font. The finished telegram is then despatched in luxurious and uniquely branded Letter Telegram packaging via Special First Class Mail, Air Mail or Signed-For Courier. The whole experience is designed to make the sender and receiver feel connected; in particular - the recipient is left feeling very special by the sender's originality and thoughtfulness.

It costs only £4.99, EUR 6.20 or US $8.20 + P&P for one telegram from any country in the world to more than 190 countries Worldwide. This price point compares favourably with greeting cards, especially with some cards costing over four times as much as our telegram. Besides, it is not uncommon for some telegrams to be framed and cherished for their sentimental value. By comparison, no matter how pleasing a greeting might be, they are rarely framed.  Framing as a keepsake is a unique gesture reserved for telegrams only.

Life is full of many incredible moments worth celebrating, and Telegramwire's main purpose is to provide a unique and innovative channel to celebrate these exciting moments. Worldwide, telegrams have always enjoyed the unmatched distinction of conveying the most important news. For instance, in the days before Smartphones, Text Messaging, Email and The Internet; telegrams were the first messages to be read out at weddings, engagements, Christenings, Bar Mitzvahs, and so forth etc. The goal of Telegramwire is to bring back the wonderful feelings of exclusivity and nostalgia to our customer base of senders and recipients - during the most important moments in their lives.

Yemmi Agbebi, MBA, CEO and Founder of Telegramwire said '...Rumours of the demise of the Telegram, as Mark Twain once observed in a similar situation, are greatly exaggerated. The telegram and it's evocative symbolism are very much alive and can be found at http://www.telegramwire.com/ "

Visit http://www.telegramwire.com/ for an immersive 'test-drive' of the "greeting card killer"!

Media inquiries: Yemmi Agbebi, MBA, CEO & Founder +44 7894 952 046 or by email at yemmi.agbebi@telegramwire.com

Monday, November 11, 2013

African Travel Association congress in Buea, Cameroon

ATA Cameroon
Opening Gala Dinner
The following information was provided by the ATA after a successful event in Cameroon in October 2013.
AFRICA TRAVEL ASSOCIATION 38TH ANNUAL WORLD CONGRESS IN BUEA, SOUTHWEST CAMEROON
International event convenes delegates from business, government and the non-profit sectors to explore Cameroon's newest attractions in the Southwest Region.

Cameroon delegates emphasize importance of attracting U.S. tourist arrivals and investment.
November 7, 2013 - The Africa Travel Association, the leader in tourism promotion to Africa, held its 38th Annual Congress in Buea, Cameroon from October 16-20, 2013. Under the banner of "Re-Discovering Cameroon," nearly 200 international and local delegates, including tourism ministers from Cameroon, Uganda and Zimbabwe and representatives from the public and private sectors, gathered at the
Buea Mountain Hotel
newly-opened Mountain Hotel to explore how tourism is one of the most promising industries across Africa and an evolving industry in Cameroon.
The Congress was hosted by the Cameroon Ministry of Tourism and Leisure under the auspices of Honorable Minister of State, Minister of Tourism and Leisure, Bella Bouba Maigari. In his opening remarks, the Minister said, "The 38th edition of ATA's Congress in Buea is taking place at a time when tourism, a sector with a strong added value that cuts across sectors, is ranked as one of the biggest industries in the world. The important role it plays in Cameroon's economy contributes significantly to improving the trade balance."
Drawing on the theme of the event, the Minister said Cameroon will be "re-discovered" time and again, particularly when there is so much "to newly discover, given the country's incredible tourist potential, natural resources, cultural diversity, peaceful cohabitation of religions and political stability, which makes our country a tourist El Dorado, known as "All Africa in one country."
Also building on the theme, ATA's Executive Director challenged the delegates to take a new look at Cameroon and to share ideas and insights on how to grow the industry and refine products. "Please consider how we can diversify a country's attractions by investing in new niche tourism products; please also consider how the public and private sectors can partner together to support the packaging and growth of tourism in the region."
Reaching out to the U.S. Market
Throughout the deliberations the Cameroon delegates from both the government and private sector emphasized their desire to connect with the North American market. In his remarks, Minister Bella Bouba Maigari spoke about the importance of turning Cameroon's diversity into innovative products that could be sold to the North American marketplace. He said, "The Government is determined to spare no effort in order to boost up the tourism industry," announcing that Cameroon recently opened a new tourism information bureau office in Washington, D.C.
A number of U.S.-based speakers explored this topic in their presentations. John Riggin, President of Partner Concepts, spoke about how to promote a successful African destination, product or service in the U.S. market. Bianca Menendez, Political/Economic Chief at the U.S. Embassy, spoke about the realities of doing business in Cameroon; and Mark Walton, Managing Director of Onyx Global Marketing, spoke about strategies and tactics for a country to adopt to improve its brand.
Engaging New Partners in Tourism Growth in Africa
For the first time, representatives from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) participated in an ATA congress. Both in the Opening Ceremony and in a panel on public-private partnership, Estherine Lisinge Fotabong, Director-PICD at NEPAD, spoke about NEPAD's role in economic growth across the continent and the possible role travel and tourism can play in increasing trade and investment. African Development Bank (AfDB) representative, Beejaye Kokil, Division Manager of the Economic & Social Statistics Division, provided an overview of what's happening in business in Africa right now. 
ATA Cameroon

Against this backdrop, Associate Director of New York University-Africa House, Eddie Mandhry, announced the release of the first Africa Tourism Monitor, a joint publication produced by AfDB, New York University-Africa House and ATA. "This report presents some of the major opportunities and challenges facing Africa's tourism industry," said Mandhry. "The facts, figures, commentaries and case studies presented in this inaugural issue show how stakeholders across sectors and the continent are taking an innovative approach to growing the industry." Mr. Mandhry also revealed that Africa continued to show a growth trend, growing from 37 million in 2003 to 63.6 million in 2013.
After the launch of the report, the tourism ministers from Cameroon, Uganda and Zimbabwe participated in the Tourism Ministers' Roundtable, in which delegates had an opportunity to directly address the ministers and to learn about their tourism agendas.
Africa Rising
Tea
Bags of tea 
The Congress captured the spirit of Africa's economic growth in a number of sessions, beginning with the keynote by Valentine Ozigbo, Managing Director and CEO of Transnational Hotels & Tourism in Nigeria. Ozigbo spoke about the growth of hotels and lodging in Africa, its impact on the tourism industry, and how governments can support investment through public-private partnership.
Angelle Kwemo, founder of the Congressional African Staff Association, also articulated the message that Africa is on the rise in her presentation on global investment in tourism. "In the twenty-first century economy, any company that needs to grow needs an Africa strategy and any African country that wants growth needs a global strategy," she said.
The discussion on airline connectivity also captured the spirit of "Africa rising." Presenters included Esayas WoldeMariam Hailu, Managing Director of Ethiopian International Services at Ethiopian Airlines, serving 46 destinations in Africa; Bobby Bryan, Commercial Director of Delta Air Lines, serving 4 in Africa; and Djanabou Ali, Sales Executive at Brussels Airlines, serving 20 destinations in Africa.
Discovering Southwest Cameroon
The Ministry of Tourism and Leisure organized two separate afternoon excursions for delegates to learn more about the products and attractions in the region. The first included a tour of the Tole Tea plantation followed by a visit to the Limbe Wildlife Center. A former zoo, the center is a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation project that is home to endangered wildlife including gorillas, chimpanzees, and several species of monkeys.
The delegates then headed to the neighboring Botanical Gardens in Limbe for some cultural entertainment. The day wrapped up with a special dinner, a blend of French and African cuisine, at the Fini Hotel. The Fini boasts a view to Limbe's black beaches and is home to one of the region's top night clubs.
The second Host Country day included ATA's annual tree-planting ceremony at the entrance of Buea University's
ATA Cameroon
Bimbia
Medical School. Then, delegates visited Bimbia, the trans-Atlantic and trans-Saharan slave port. In the words of one of the delegates, "It was an incredibly memorable experience, unlike no other heritage site I've visited in Africa, including Ghana and Senegal, but it requires an all-terrain vehicle to ascend the Limbe hills and sturdy and comfortable shoes to walk through the canopy of trees."
The potential of Cameroon's attractions was presented at a session with the country's leading tourism specialists, who all made strong cases for more increased attention and investment not only from the U.S. market, but also the Chinese one. Moderated by Elimbi Ebenezer, former Director of Tourism Marketing at the Ministry of Tourism and Leisure and a consultant to the UNWTO, presenters included Adam Mahamat, a Cameroon tour operator based in China;Elangwe Peter, a tourist delegate in the Southwest; and Rodolphe Simo Kam, Managing Director of SOFITOUL, one of the country's largest travel companies.
Additional Program Highlights
Amini Kajunju, President & CEO of the Africa-America Institute (AAI), http://www.aaionline.org/, set the tone for a number of presentations in her spotlight on "Building the Capacity for Inclusive Tourism Growth in Africa." In her remarks, she explored why tourism, if managed properly, has the potential to improve lives and support equitable growth on all levels. She also spoke about how tourism can create opportunities for marginalized communities like women, rural areas and youth.
On this basis, a number of sessions focused on the role nonprofits can play in expanding socio-economic growth. Georges Bwelle, a top ten "CNN Hero," spoke about how his non-profit, Ascovime, delivers medical services to underserved communities across Cameroon. Khalid Elachi, Chief Operating Officer of MCW, and Joseph Okelo, Country Director of Global Travel and Tourism Partnership, shared how their nonprofits create tourism jobs for youth.
ATA Cameroon
Edward Bergman, S. Emile Engoulou, Pierre Thiam
Chef Pierre Thiam, author of the cookbook on Senegalese cuisine, Yolele, who was joined by local Chef S. Emile Engoulou of Le Club Municipal Restaurant, spoke about the importance of using local food and ingredients in the tourism industry.
The congress also emphasized the diversity of Africa's products beyond the traditional sea and safari packages. Highlights included a spotlight on Nigerian fashions and textiles in a fashion show organized by Chief Margaret Bolanle Fabiyi, who is President, Webisco International Federation of Women Entrepreneurs & Tourism in Nigeria.  Additional topics included religious travel, diaspora tourism, national parks, and mountain climbing.
Also, Travel trade and mainstream media delegates explored the relationship between tourism and the media at ATA's second annual media exchange. Moderated by Claudine Moore, Managing Director of C Moore Media International, journalists spoke about how to leverage the global interest in Africa by adopting international communication strategies to increase tourism traffic.
The Congress welcomed strong participation from students and young professionals. "The YPP participants
ATA Cameroon
played an active and direct role in the Congress this year, organizing a presentation on Cameroon and a social night at the Chariot Hotel," said Bergman. "They participated in all the sessions, maximizing all the opportunities for networking and learning. Their enthusiasm and dedication makes us all excited for the future of Cameroon's tourism industry."
Taking the lead with the Young Professionals program were Eyong Ayuk Ako-Ebot, MA Tourism Management, and Hyppolite Mouaffo, Adjunct Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Stratford University.
The congress wrapped up with the "Africa's Destination Travel Specialists Forum".  Participating travel agents included from the U.S., Dr. Gaynelle Henderson-Bailey, Henderson Travel Services; Michael Madison, President, Arbor Travel Associates; and Mohammed Zaki, President /CEO, RZ Travels, Inc., as well as Abigail Lubliner, Associate, Adventure and Eco Tourism from Israel, who shared top tips on how to conduct business in their markets.

Congress Sponsors
Arik Air,  www.arikair.com, served as the Official Congress Carrier and offered special discounts to delegates.  The Nigeria-based airline also served as Official Media Carrier.
ATA, in partnership wit Arik Air and the Ministry of Tourism and Leisure, organized a media delegation to the Congress, which included journalists writing stories for Travel Weekly, Canadian World Traveler Magazine, The Atlantic, CNN, Black Enterprise, Bet.com, Newsone.com and African Sun Times.

Photos above are all courtesy of the ATA. For additional photos, visit ATA's https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151757418252545.1073741832.92120452544&type=1
For copies of presentations and speeches, contact ATA at info@africatravelassociation.org.

Chef Pierre Thiam put together his own "foodie" photo album, which I posted on Facebook.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

African puppets

A photo gallery of new African puppets by Vickie Frémont, representing various regions and fabrics in the continent.
Indigo
Mudcloth
Baule woven cloth
Bazin fabric
Korhogo fabric
The puppets are to be shown at the upcoming SIRA event at the Maison de l'Afrique in Montreal, Canada, on November 7, 8 and 9, 2013.
Vickie will be holding three workshops on Saturday, November 9.

Maison de l'Afrique: 6256 Henri-Julien, Montreal - for more information: tel. 514-701-1433.


Monday, September 30, 2013

Ifeoma Anyaeji - "Transmogrification" at Skoto Gallery, NYC



Detail Cancer and Contours, 2011, 
Discarded plastic bags (Plasto-yarns
and bottles, twine and wood. 39 x 41 x 8 inches
Skoto Gallery has unfailingly shown high quality art in New York since 1992. The gallery’s specialty is African contemporary art, and Skoto was the first to provide an NYC space to El Anatsui, for example, whose art is now displayed in many museums worldwide.

The current exhibition, on view through November 2, 2013, is called Transmogrification: works by Ifeoma Anyaeji. It is a very original and also timely exhibition using surprising materials for the three-dimensional art and sculpture.

Ifeoma Anyaeji
Ifeoma, born and raised in Benin City, Nigeria, studied painting at the University of Benin in her hometown, as an undergraduate. However, sculpture was always her passion, and 3 years ago she won a Ford Foundation Fellowship award and attended Washington University in St. Louis (Missouri, USA). She eschewed traditional materials to concentrate on used plastic bags, “up-cycling” them, rather than “recycling,” in order to add value. One of the techniques she uses is threading, a traditional West African hair plaiting technique which uses thread.
Oche Onodu (Couch), 2012, Discarded plastic bags
(Plasto-yarns) and bottles, metal cans, wood, metal, 
twine, carpet yarn and video on DVD, 
128.04 x 68.04 x 27 inches (Couch);
 51.96 x 18.96 x 18.96 inches (for TV stand) and 14 mins 36 secs (for the video) 
Due to the petroleum industry in Nigeria, and plastic being a petroleum-based product,
plastic bags have become ubiquitous in Nigeria, and are usually discarded without being recycled, often polluting the environment.
Ifeoma’s works celebrate the extension of value in a material, otherwise condemned to be discarded, with no guarantee of being recycled. Not only does her work embrace this peculiar medium but it promotes a craft process, a hair braiding technique, that has been considered “out-of-fashion” in Nigeria. Thus, Up-cycling both material and culture.

Mmili (Water), 2011, Discarded plastic bags
 (Plasto-yarns) and bottles, wood, and twine. 
42.5 x 39.5 x 10 inches
My work embraces the idea of material usefulness and reuse through the transformation of a discarded object’s physical state, as an alternative to recycling by mechanized chemical disintegration. Using these unique mediums to create forms that visually express the narrative of a domestic object’s possible transition from the discarded to the aesthetic pictorial or the decorative or functional, in the absence of a mechanized process. This I conceive by creating a complexity of sculptural forms that allowed for multiple interpretations of the functionality of an object after it has been consumed. The object referred to been the discarded or that bound for the waste bin, as no longer having a value. Using forms inspired by architectural structures and household furniture I try to explore the possibility of achieving an environmentally sustainable practice through the means of unconventional Up-cycling (recycling) processes.”
Ifeoma calls her style of art "Plastoart", coined from the words plastic and art. She hopes her concept of “up-cycling” will encourage others to follow her lead in making art from plastic bags; it would form a model for small-scale entrepreneurial Up-cycled Plastoart craft initiatives in her home country, especially.
Ifeoma teaches at her alma mater in Benin City and also has another solo exhibition, Plasto-yarnings: a conversation with plastic bags and bottles, simultaneously showing at the Alliance Française in Nairobi, Kenya.

Detail of Akpalakpa II, 2012, Discarded plastic bags, metal wire and wood. 84 x 66 x 18 inches  
Akpalakpa II, 2012, Discarded plastic bags, metal wire and wood. 84 x 66 x 18 inches  

Oche Blue (Blue Chair), 2011, Metal, discarded plastic bags 
and plastic electric wire rim, and wood. 44.4 x 36 x 27.6 inches
Eze na Ozo (Red cap chiefs), 2013. Discarded plastic bags (plasto-yarns) and bottle caps, and twine  

Hair threading video demonstration, 2012

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Doual'art - a Cameroon center of art


During our recent stay in Cameroon, we were fortunate to find a group exhibition showing at Doual'art, the cultural center in downtown Douala. This is one of the rare, if not the only, nonprofit exhibition spaces in Cameroon. It is managed by Marilyn Douala Bell and Didier Schaub, located in the business center of Douala, Place du Gouvernement.

Pieces by Joseph Francis Sumégné
"Petit Masque I," Joseph Francis Sumégné
"Petit Masque II," Joseph Francis Sumégné
"The Family," Romuald Dikoumé, 2012
"La déchirure," Merlin Tefolo, 2012
"Deido Plage," Salifou Lindou, 2012
"Mental Thown I," Salifou Lindou, 2012
Marilyn Doualla Bell in the upstairs office
Didier Schaub
It is also the best place to meet with our old friend, the artist Koko Komegne.



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Portraits: Raphael Sack-Tina, Bruce Maier, Rolande Hodel, Frédérique Hervet

Raphael Sack-Tina
Raphael Sack-Tina attended high school in Douala, Cameroon at the Lycée technique, at the time an institution similar to Pratt University until recently: a small percentage of applying students were accepted into 7th grade, and received a scholarship for the next seven years. Students hailed from all over Central Africa, and it was a boarding school. Friendships endured throughout life. Raphael went on to become an engineer and is currently living in Canada.
After the book crowdfunder, Raphael wrote: "Congratulations for such a great idea for a book. Its inspires me to work on a positive contribution in Civil Engineering in Africa in the near future."
Raphael Sack-Tina, M.Eng., P.Eng.
Bruce Maier
Senior Structural Engineer at Candu Energy Inc., Mississauga, CANADA

Bruce Maier is a software specialist with a quirky sense of humor--a self-described "lifelong computer geek," living in Long Island, New York. He wrote his first software program in 1968, and worked as a Manager of Emerging Technology at New York City Transit. He published a book on the sciences, asking the question: Are we living in a computer game/simulation? To find out more about the (virtual) book, please visit http://realityisvirtual.com/.

Dr. Hodel during a
trip to Cameroon
Rolande Hodel has already been written about in this blog, when she spoke about her nonprofit work at Harvard University last December.
Dr. Hodel is the founder and president of the non-profit organization, AIDSfreeAFRICA, an organization which has greatly improved the health and well-being of the women of Africa in countless ways. Dr. Hodel has a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Queens College, City University of New York. Dr. Hodel volunteered at the United Nations where she became aware of the fact that in many African countries women are disproportionately infected with HIV/AIDS. This information inspired Dr. Hodel to found AIDSfreeAFRICA, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Africans become self-sufficient in producing essential, generic drugs. 
Since founding AIDSfreeAFRICA in 2003, Dr. Hodel has spent much time in Africa and has been involved with establishing start-up pharmaceutical companies in Cameroon. Her work includes researching the type of equipment the company needs, making sure the company complies with acceptable manufacturing practices and, of course, raising money for these causes.  
In addition to providing the women of Cameroon with improved access to urgently needed pharmaceuticals, Dr. Hodel's organization has helped Cameroonian women in countless other ways.  To increase access to health care and reduce the maternal death rate associated with childbirth, AIDSfreeAFRICA has shipped ultrasound machines and other medical equipment to Cameroon and has provided medicine to help stop bleeding during delivery, a major cause of maternal death in African countries; and shipped scientific books and laboratory equipment to the University of Buea in Cameroon. To create jobs for Cameroonian women, the volunteers of AIDSfreeAFRICA sell the women's individually designed and crafted necklaces in the United States. For some Cameroonian women, this assistance has tripled their yearly income. Furthermore, AIDSfreeAFRICA has been instrumental in establishing the program "Kick it to Cameroon" which promotes soccer training for girls in Cameroon by providing them with soccer equipment. 
When Dr. Hodel is not in Africa, she teaches chemistry at Westchester Community College in New York, and is a public speaker


Frédérique in Paris
"Fragment de Pékin"
Frédérique Hervet trained and worked as an architect, with a degree from the Paris School of Fine Arts, before finding her true calling as an artist. She has exhibited in a variety of cities, and was chosen as an artist-in-residence in Beijing, China. Her website shows the evolution of her work, and her blog, "Walking Beijing," describes her Beijing experiences.
In between shows, she teaches art at Paris schools of art and architecture, and in workshops for disadvantaged youth. 


Recent posts:
Richard McMillan, Architect and Publisher
Landry Tientcheu: Landry at the Bayou

About the De La Case A La Villa campaign, and the campaign site.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Richard McMillan, Architect and publisher

Ab incredible variety of talented people contributed to the book, De La Case A La Villa. Many are not of African origin, although all share a certain vision of the world, I think.

Book cover design by Pollyn C. Horvath
Richard McMillan is an American registered architect, trained at the University of Tennessee, with an MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business.
Besides working full-time in the architectural field, Richard is also a publisher. His book, 101 Cool Buildings (The Best of New York City Architecture), is an ode to the plethora of interesting contemporary architecture in New York City.
Beyond architectural themes, he also publishes choral music (RM Choral Music).








Landry Tientcheu: Landry at the Bayou

Landry Tientcheu
Landry Tientcheu is a specialist in sustainable energy by day, and a talented singer by night. 
Landry, who is of Cameroonian origin, and currently lives in California, USA, wants to use the platform of his music to tell a different story about Africa. He wants to tell the story of a gifted Africa, of an educated Africa, of a knowledgeable Africa, of a prosperous Africa, one that doesn’t inspire misery and neediness. As Landry eloquently states, “Misery is real, but it doesn't bring out the best in us. Successful and inspiring stories of Africa, on the other hand, inspire people to invest in themselves and in others. People only invest when they feel good about themselves, about others, and about where we are going as a species."
I call Landry's new album "Jazz with a French African accent" - it's called Landry at the Bayou
Landry at the Bayou album cover

Ali Baba's Cave: Calabar Imports in Brooklyn

Atim in the store
Atim in the Front Street store
Calabar was an international sea port as far back as the 16th century. Calabar Imports is a fitting name for Atim Annette Oton's Brooklyn-based stores. I visited her in the seasonal Dumbo store, at The Shops at 145 Front Street.
Atim is one of the first African-born architects we met in New York. At the time she was teaching, and publishing a design magazine called Blacklines; she had interviewed my spouse, Epée Ellong, for an article about his architectural projects in Cameroon. It's now my turn to write about her!





Dumbo
The store is in Dumbo, in the shadow
 of the Manhattan Bridge
The store and business is owned by Atim Annette Oton and her mother, Heloise Annette Oton. The main store is located in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. 

Calabar Imports carries a dizzying array of unique handcrafted items: affordable fashion clothing, fashion accessories, jewelry, home decor and gifts.
The business was created in 2004. Atim and Heloise had originally planned to open a store in the city of Calabar, where Heloise had lived for 16 years, and Atim was born. As they had collected many beautiful items, they decided to sell it in New York. At first they participated in street fairs in Brooklyn International African Arts Festival), Queens, Manhattan (Black Expo, Harlem Book Fair), the Bronx, and in Connecticut.
While participating in the Washington Avenue Street Fair in Prospect Heights, Atim noticed a atore for rent, and so in August 2004, the store was opened. 
Calabar merchandise
All types of merchandise - home decor, accessories
 including these incredible rings made of a seashell (to the right)
Calabar, Nigeria is at the estuary of the Cross River on the Atlantic Ocean; it was a trading post for the Portuguese, Scottish and English traders. It was settled in the 17th century by the Efik people, and served as a center for trade between Europeans and the people living further inland.
Dresses
Colorful dresses 
The name is fitting for a business focused on such an international variety of goods, from Africa, Asia and more. I saw items priced at $2 (little coin purses), $7, $30, $50... there is something for all budgets.
I hope that all you gentle readers will do your best to help support this business!

Bios:
*Atim Annette Oton is a designer and architect by education and training; born in Nigeria, she attended the City College of New York in Harlem and the Architectural Association Graduate School in London, England. She worked at several firms including Davis, Brody, Bond in New York City.  In 2000, she was part of the design team that won the African Burial Ground Interpretive Center. In the same year, she was hired as the Associate Chair of Product Design at Parsons School of Design. She also worked as a design consultant on the Underground Railroad Railroad Experience, a cultural education website from 2000 – 2004; and won an Independent Grant from the NYSCA on her work, the Black Hair Salon in 2002. In 2002 and 2004, she participated as a designer for the 3rd and 4th Annual Bridge Street Development Corporation’s Bedford Stuyvesant Design Showhouses. Recently, she was a consultant to the Bronx Council on the Arts for its Artisan Institute, an innovative idea focused on micro-enterprise for craftspeople in the Bronx. Atim's work has been published in Architecture Record, Design Build, Design Architecture.com, Oculus and Blacklines Magazine. She has exhibited at the Architectural Association, London, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Institute for the Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC), the Bronx Museum of Art and the City College of New York. She has been profiled in Office.com and Diversity.com for articles on Blacklines Magazine.
*Heloise Annette Oton is a retired educator, born in Harlem, New York of Trinidad and Jamaican parentage. She spent her formative years in New Rochelle, Harlem and the Bronx before going unto to Hunter College to study Sociology and Columbia University where she focused on International Education and received a master’s degree from Teacher’s College. In 1962, she met and married E. U. Oton, a Nigerian diplomat, and went off to live and work in Nigeria for about 25 years. In those years, she traveled extensively in Nigeria buying and collecting Nigerian art, clothing and some craft products that she sold occasionally on her trips to the US. She also worked in education as a teacher in a secondary school and finally as a Vice Principal of in Calabar and later ran her husband’s printing company, APCON Limited. In 1986, Heloise returned to resettle in New York and to return to work in social service before moving back to teaching after acquiring a Masters in English as a Second Language from Adelphi University. From 1997, she taught at a public high school in the South Bronx where she remained until she retired in early February 2005.

Locations of Calabar Imports Stores 
My purchase: a "boubou"-style dress
(I was't leaving without buying anything!) 
DUMBO:
145 Front Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Telephone: 718-928-3970.
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 11am – 7:30pm; closed Tuesday
CROWN HEIGHTS:
708 Franklin Avenue,
Brooklyn, NY 11238.
Telephone: 718-638-4288.
Hours: Wednesday to Monday, 11am – 7:30 pm; closed on Tuesday