Smooth + Confidence Series, Mother's Day Edition: Anwuli

To Be Careful + Carefree:
Anwuli Anigbo

 All Photos taken by  Khabrim Diallo

All Photos taken by Khabrim Diallo

The Smooth + Confidence series is our platform to highlight the skin, voices + stories of black women, from the Chicago, Illinois, to Accra, Ghana, through interviews + photography. It's important for our words and narratives to be captured with our pictures, for us, by us.

I met Anwuli Anigbo at Abena’s birthday party back in March. (Along with the friend she mentions, another cool woman we plan to feature on the blog later on, little does she know!) There's almost nothing better than a good, live party full of black folks enjoy themselves—and Abena throws a top-notch one; DJ Madame Shea is no joke, y’all, make sure you book up in advance when she goes professional—but sometimes hanging back + hanging out with the people who're keeping it low key is a great way to catch people on a good vibe, and Anwuli + I were on the same wavelength that evening. She's got a lot of dope stuff going on, what with writing, cooking, creating, mothering, and living, and her particular perspective on how she sees motherhood + creativity is pretty great, so follow her at @saykedu + read on below!

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Adwoa SeiwaaAnwuli! Tell us about yourself. Whether it's what you do, your passions, your drives, your faves, your feats—who are you?

Okay, I’m going to go for my faves: I love dinner parties + Moscato D’asti. I sit in bed + read cookbooks like The Art of Simple Food, because I think food is vital to the quality of life I want to achieve. I am African though, so I feel some kind of way about following strict recipes all the time. I just want to be able to get in the kitchen + improvise. I’m currently obsessed with my new green tea foam mattress + the white sheets I got to go with it; I recently discovered the joy of bedding. I can’t get enough of She’s Gotta To Have It; Nola Darling make realize I wasn’t paying enough attention to my bed. I had honestly never considered how important you relationship with your bed is. This list could go on forever, but last two things I’m currently loving are BLK MKT Vintage and the Museum of Contemporary Art

Adwoa Seiwaa: Yes! Teni mentioned your dinner parties—such a lovely way to help give people life. Food is life! So is bed, though; mine is set, but I'm def filing away this green tea foam mattress for the future. BLK MKT Vintageso well curated! And I've seen a few of those items at places like the Museum of the City of New York + Afropunk. All right, let's get down to our theme for the month with the next question: How do you balance motherhood with your creative +/or entrepreneurial endeavors? 

Anwuli Anigbo: I integrate them; for me, motherhood is a creative endeavor in itself. When I was pregnant, my cousin gave me the best advice to date: “Make sure you can do it yourself.” She didn’t mean not to ask for help, just that I should do my best to always be my own Plan A. I got into the habit early of taking my son along to things with me and developed a commitment to what I call "parallel growth." We grow side by side, you know, like a vine can only grow as tall as the surface it’s attached to. 

Adwoa Seiwaa: That's a really good analogy. Going off that, what strengths do you draw from being a mother + apply to everything else you do, and if it has, how has motherhood changed the way you see your work?

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Anwuli Anigbo: Motherhood is consistent problem solving and decision making. Often the decisions are big, like where someone is going to go to school, who they can be friends with, etc. It still blows my mind how much control I have over someone else’s life. It’s a lot of power + I am deeply thoughtful about how to hold that power. How I choose to do that was the most significant decision I made about motherhood + it informs everything else. Since I had my son so young, I didn’t have any understanding of what my work was, so I can’t say my work has been changed by motherhood. It is fully informed by motherhood like a vine + its surface, I guess.  

Adwoa Seiwaa: So for you, the two are intertwined, inseparable from each other—a naturally symbiotic relationship. It's wonderful that you're able to do that. As a black woman + as a mother, you also need to be able to take out time for yourself. What self-care + self-love practices do you currently engage in that relate directly to being both carefree + careful? 

Anwuli AnigboIt’s important to me that I make everyday tasks as luxurious a possible. I take breaks to put on a face mask before phone meetings or pour a glass of wine before looking over my son’s homework. I listen to music while I make dinner. I take long showers most nights, and also do the entire Korean 10-step routine + spend an outrageous amount of time putting on shea butter. That time after a shower is the perfect excuse for being left alone. I have a secret stash of chocolate that I incorporate into the routine. When everything else fails, that’s my constant because it’s cheap + always necessary.

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Adwoa Seiwaa: I like the way you put that—making the everyday "luxurious." The body butter really feels like an everyday luxury, because not only does it sink into your skin so smoothly—and I take my time + really slather it on too—but I also know everything that went into it, from the effort of all the black women involved (hay cousin!) to all the ingredients and, of course, all the love. The tagline Abena came up with, during a phone call with her friend Kenya, "Smooth + Confident," is really truthful of how Hanahana makes you feel both inside + out. What does the phrase mean to you?

Anwuli Anigbo: It makes me think of the water, the ultimate smooth + confident. Water is always smooth + always gets the job done. I remember thinking about the water while I was in labor, I didn’t have an epidural just deep breaths + the reminder to “be like the water.” Being smooth + confident means knowing that when you hit resistance that you are the water—water always gets through.   

Adwoa Seiwaa: Beautiful analogy. There's a wonderful poem called “You Are Oceanic” by Tapiwa Mugabe you should read if you don't already know it. On the theme of ebbs + flows, what's one thing that you want more of in 2018 +one thing you want less of in terms of personal growth?

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Anwuli Anigbo: I want more freedom. I want it to be borderline decadent, maybe over the border considering how culturally restrictive motherhood is. I realized over the past year that I had been accepting some things as facts that were not and therefore significantly limiting my own sense of freedom. I literally had a moment of thinking, “You mean I have been free this whole time?” It was the worst feeling. I want to know everything I am thinking that is in the way of my freedom and stop thinking it. I want less of anything that contradicts the things I want more of.   

Adwoa Seiwaa: “I Wish I Knew How it Felt to Be Free.” As a creative black mother, now you know—a nice note to end on. Let's close with the burning question: what's your favorite Hanahana Beauty product?

Anwuli Anigbo: The shea body butter, BUT my friend Akudo raves about the shea exfoliating bar + I have a strong feeling that it's going to change the game.

Thank you, Anwuli, for sharing your experiences and the freedoms you found as a black creative woman + a mother. You gave us some game changer too! Hope to see you at one of your dinner parties, and Happy Mother's Day, every day, all day!

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Stay Smooth + Confident

- Abena Boamah