‘And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom’ – Anaïs Nin
The above quote was the very first post by BLOOM when they launched their Instagram account, on the 1st of September this year; the first month of spring. It encapsulates the vision founders Nandi Dlepu and Farai Simoyi have for their platform. BLOOM seeks to provide spaces for women to meet, converse and inspire each other. “A platform where we can communicate freely about the challenges and triumphs we face in our careers, our relationships, our spirits and with our bodies”. Their bi-monthly conversations take place in Johannesburg, New York and Harare. I caught up with co-founder Nandi to get a feeling for their philosophy of blooming, together.
The seed for BLOOM was planted when Farai and Nandi met through a mutual friend earlier this year. Nandi hosted a pop up event in NY and Farai offered her coffee shop as the meeting spot for the Brunch & Ride. Soon after Nandi’s return to SA Farai hit her up looking to link up with like-minded women on another project of hers. From that conversation they found themselves talking about organizing like-minded women together to chat and collaborate in the same way that they had done, and the seed for BLOOM began to grow. “From conversation to conversation we haven’t stopped imagining and building,” Nandi explains. “BLOOM was in part inspired by all the good conversations we ever had with our girlfriends and/or mentors, and sometimes even with strangers. That feeling you get after such meetings. It’s as if your heart and mind have opened themselves up to more. I would leave such conversations inspired, motivated and challenged. So I sought to package that experience with and through BLOOM. That feeling of being open to more, being and doing is the feeling I want women to leave BLOOM with”. All event themes and uploads on their IG account always relate back to their idea of growing together.
September saw events hosted in all three cities .Their first meet up in Johannesburg also took its cue from their overarching theme for September, conversations around creativity, and so BLOOMERS headed off to Keyes Art Mile in Rosebank for a guided tour by Whatiftheworld in their collaborative space with Southern Guild followed by lunch. Conversation on Creativity, their Johannesburg event for the month, was conceptualized by Nandi and focused on “getting and staying inspired as well as finding and establishing your own authentic & creative voice”. Founder of Art Talks Kholisa Thomas (@kholisa) and poet Lebohang ‘Nova’ Masango (@novatruly) were invited to lead the conversation and speak to the importance of everyday creative habits and the practical side of living a more creative life. The event in NY, themed Free You Mind, Free Your Spine, was conceptualized by Farai and her event was all about blockages; from emotional and mental to physical blockages. They explored the things we do and say that hold us back and the power of freeing your mind. In Harare the Keep Afloat in a Challenging Business Environment event, organized by entrepreneur Langa Lloyd, was about having a space where women could share their challenges, insights and offer support to one another in the context of Zimbabwe’s difficult socio-political environment.
Their Instagram account is a continuation of the conversations that emerge from their events, or as Nandi calls it, the “conversation between the conversation”. Their BLOOM Playlist greatly inspired by their BLOOMERS, can also be found on their IG and is another coordinate in the journey of growth and discovery that the Bloom ladies are trying to map out for and with other women. Suggestions on visual and audio content such as empowering TED talks to watch are shared through the Playlist.
“I cite this often,” says Nandi, “‘The best project you will EVER work on is yourself’. I hope that BLOOM will be a great compliment to the journey of self-discovery and affirmation for all BLOOMERS”.
BLOOM’s Johannesburg coterie will be hosting another conversation in November. To stay up to date with BLOOM news check out their IG account, @bloomorg.