Kenyan actress Lupita Nyongo has been blowing up red carpets and magazine covers for the better part of the last year, and has now moved on to creating colours ('Nairobi Blue') and snagging massive beauty contracts with Lancome. Even her stylist Micaela Erlanger has just been named one of 25 of the most powerful stylists of the year. Style can be undeniably powerful in changing perceptions, but Lupita is not the only stylish Kenyan worthy of stalking on Instagram or showing the world some serious Nairobi cool. Meet Velma Rossa and Papa Petit, brother sister founders of style blog 2manysiblings. Kiran and I came across the self described 'duo composition of style and art enthusiasts' and instantly loved their refreshingly vibrant but indie-bohemian style. In a world where tumblr style bloggers are a dime a data bundle, what's working for these two is that it's clearly about something bigger than their outfits, which are of course always achingly cool.
Nairobi is fast becoming one of Africa's hotspots for creative entrepreneurs, so we reached out to Velma and Petit for a glimpse beneath the Insta filters to find out just how these two became so effortlessly chic, or were they just born with it?
It all began when...
Velma Rossa: We thought about documenting our style to showcase our little piece of the world and the talent we have here by working with various East African photographers that each have a different aesthetic. It's always been a passion project and has since taken a life of its own and the response has been amazing!
Papa Petit: For example 'The Colours of Nairobi' is a project that we started to show the world the various colours of Nairobi that exist in different elements; in architecture, diversity in people and nature which make the city such a beautiful consequence.
Born with style...
Velma Rossa: Our dress sensibilities have been embedded from our parents. Our mother made sure we dressed well for church when we were little and our Dad had an impeccable dapper way to him. They continue to inspire us. I am more boho-afrochic- I love mélange tissue thin t-shirts, ripped denim pants, maxi floral skirts with oversized blazers or sweatshirts paired with Ankara fabric head turbans or Maasai beaded bangles! My look is mostly Africa went to Soho, New York fell in love and got married!
Papa Petit: My style is dandy punk! I'm inspired by the style sensibilities of Sam Lambert (Art Comes First), Ouigi Theordore (Brooklyn Circus) and my father back in the 70's- looking at his albums he had incredible taste. Staples in my closet include denim & tweed pants, bomber jackets, Dr. Marten shoes and my collection of hats and scarves.
Papa Petit: A pair of old school original Versace sunglasses, my hats, this vintage canvas back pack for my thrifting trips, and bone rings sourced from the Maasai Market. The Maasai Market is great for locally made accessories, you can pick up great beaded, wooden, leather, bone, horn, silver, brass and amber assortments of jewellery. The Moo Cow store also stocks great pieces made by local Kenyan designers.
Velma Rossa: Plaid Shirts, Socks, Ruby Woo M.A.C lipstick, an assortment of rings and a pair of vintage high waisted leather pants sourced from this little FruitCake store in Johannesburg.
Nairobi fashion is...
Velma Rose: a mishmash of different tastes- there are the eclectic ones, the ones who absolutely love their labels, the artistic earthy types. The majority of us still play it safe and are shy to experiment with different textures. But the business side of fashion is growing, there are more events for the business savvy to promote and create awareness for their goods and services like 'The Nairobi Fashion Market Event' which is held twice a year. It's simple to get involved, attend gallery exhibition events, attend concerts by local artists, buy locally made products. Appreciate.
Papa Petit: The Kenyan industry is at an all time high but there is still so much room for innovation. Its exciting to see more spaces and events that support and make it possible for creatives to share their work and have the conversations and commentaries on the issues that affect artists and how to resolve them. We are willing to dare, push envelopes…but we need to get to a point where local designer labels have that to die for factor to generate enough revenue to become million shilling businesses. We need to stop aping the international fashion stories and create our own fashion power centre that suits our seasons and personalities!
We move & shake with...
Velma Rossa: The Just A Band music collective, they make really really good music with a massive following both in Kenya and internationally. They explore different sounds and merge them to create feel good songs like ‘Sunrise’, my current favourite from their 82 Album.
Shooting in style...
Papa Petit: The tea farm sets by Sarah Marie, Ugandan photographer, remain my absolute favourite to date. She takes an artistic angle to her photography, the picture titled ‘CHAI PETALS’ on our blog shows her artistic eye and direction quite well. This is my favourite photo on our blog. We shot it in Limuru, after a drive out of the bustle of the city to serenity. Beautiful landscapes, clean air and the sunset....it was a meditative experience for me.
Velma Rossa: My favourite has to be the ‘COLOURS OF NAIROBI: ROUGE CITY’ picture that went viral! It was taken on a lazy Sunday afternoon by one of our friends when we were out and about in the city... hanging, laughing, good vibes. Eric Saganda is one of my favourite photographers for capturing our very first photos, he understood our vision and concepts so well and captured the details brilliantly to create beautiful picture compositions.
The future holds...
Velma Rossa: It would be a dream to collaborate with other likeminded creatives (bloggers, photographers, designers) based internationally, bring our cultures together to create something inspiring and influence.
Fortunately they are both putting their innate style to good use with Velma working as a stylist at Connie Aluoch Stylist Management. She recently featured in the Karen Walker eyewear campaign she was assisting on after the photographer liked her look, resulting in her face all over this global campaign. Papa Petit is also a personal stylist and is venturing into a menswear collection this year.
You've heard it folks, 2manysiblings want to collaborate with you! Go find out more here.
Author: Alae Ismail, Co-Founder of Styled By Africa