Lili and Frank

So I have been playing with the idea of starting something new for the clothing and home side of the store; it is still in is early days; but it had all become a little much and I needed to make some sort of change. I decided to dedicate a name and space for something new; a shift to separate but also allow the clothing a space to develop at it’s own pace. My thoughts are… rather shift things now than later on when it’s more difficult to rebrand.

I started the clothing side of what of the store last year and it has grown into something wonderful. But clothing is really hard; there are some days when I want to throw in the towel and call it a day… but at the same time, it is extremely rewarding to see people happy in your clothing.

My grandmother left us with all sorts of bits and bobs. She left SO many kiddies clothes patterns. I guess I didn’t think of it before but now I am at a place where I want to start producing a small run of kiddies clothes along side the ladies capsule collection I’m building. When I think about it, it feels overwhelming. But when I really think about it, it all feels right an as it should be.

It is messy and not exactly the way I would like to change things over, ideally my new branding for L&F would have been in place; but I have learnt since building a brand that design and branding really come secondary to process, storytelling and playing. That is the stage I am in now with all of it.

So a few changes that will be happening; I am discontinuing my handpainted product; I find that it takes up too much time that I should be spending on my painting and illustration. All handpainted goods will be discontinued, what you see on the store now is the last of it.

Everything will still remain under the umbrella of Amy Ayanda; but Lili and Frank will have a dedicated content and social media space. I will be launching my new Website towards the end of March, for now everything will run much the same until its change over.

If you have any further questions please feel free to email me amyayanda@gmail.com

 

Best

AA x

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Our Birth Story 22nd of January 2016

“What would happen to our lives, our world, if the parent could unconditionally affirm the child, saying in so many words: “You are precious to us; you will always have our love and support; you are here to be who you are; try never to hurt another, but never stop trying to become yourself as fully as you can; when you fall and fail, you are still loved by us and welcomed to us, but you are also here to leave us, and to go onward toward your own destiny without having to worry about pleasing us.” 
― James Hollis, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up

All Images by Caroline Mackintosch for An Ode to Nude

 

Today you are three. While I say often, “I cannot believe how fast you have grown,” the space between then and now has been important, slow and full of growth in it’s own right. But today I tell the story of your birth.

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My labour started at 8am, Dean had just left for work and I went for my morning ritual on the porclain express. I was spotting, first sign. I called my sister and she told me she would come get me to take me to the hospital. We weren’t fully sure if labour had started so I told Dean I would confirm once in the Hospital and seen to.

I considered a home birth; but being so young and unsure of my body, I didn’t have the trust that things would run smoothly and did not have the knowledge of finding a doula to facilitate that process. I didn’t have medial aid when I found out I was pregnant. When we were five months I went to a doctor who said my birth at Kingsbury (just the birth and not the overnight stay) would cost us R60k. I lolled. So I went to Retreat for my next checkup, my local MOU. I hadn’t even driven into Retreat before. There was a long line already. I needed to pee. We all shared the same pee cup and the scale didn’t work properly. There were abandoned puppies outside. I remember seeing a group of very young looking pregnant girls, they must have been about 15/16. They were all standing together with their bellies. We always had to wait a very long time to see the doctor. I always regretted never packing a lunchbox and a book. The midwife would come in and do the same talk about how to put a condom on. Then we would go one by one for our HIV/AIDS test. It was finally my turn to see the nurse, I went in. “Are you still on medication?” “yes” I replied. “You will need to be transferred to Groote Schuur, you will be seen to by Doctor Bhavi”. I was transferred to our main Hospital of the Western Cape; were I would be seen to monthly by a psychiatrist as well as a doctor, to make sure my mental health was stable alongside my growing baby. They don’t issue medication at the small MOU’s so this is why I was moved.

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We didn’t do much reading or birth preparation. We didn’t have the money and Dean worked during the week. I suggested Youtube but we didn’t make the time. The labour pains started as small cramps, similar to period pain. The midwives told me I would only get a bed around 4pm, so I would have to wait. We walked alot, the pain got worse but not unbearable. I could hear woman in labour around me, it sounded as though they were possessed; I was pretty terrified. I hadn’t prepared at all for this. “excuse me sister, I was hoping I could get some pain meds before things get worse…” I was ready for the drugs, the nurse told me that she could give me some morphine for the pain in a bit…I eventually got my bed, the pain was more intense now. I was sharing a space with another woman in labour, the other beds were empty. The nurse was charting the baby’s heartbeat. I asked for the meds again… “Oh no, it’s too late now”, she replied. She looked at her watch “this baby will be out at the end of my shift, 7 o’ clock, don’t worry, you’re young and it’s going fast” she said. The pain began to get unbearable; as the contractions came I would get sick next to myself into a packet and clutch onto anything I could find. It wasn’t time to push. I was exhausted.

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“How long have you been on medication for?” asked Dr Bhavi. “since I was 18” I replied. I was diagnosed with Bipolar in 2014 and went off the medication as soon as I found out I was pregnant. “I don’t think you have Bipolar”, she said to me. Misdiagnosed by a doctor who refuses to speak to me now. “I am fine, I am more stable than I have ever felt”, I reply. “Pregnancy will do that to you” she said.

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The labour escalated fast. My mother had suggested I suck ice but they didn’t have that kind of thing in the public hospital let’s be honest. I shouted alot at Dean. It was time to push and I had depleted most of my energy. My eyes rolling back. I knew I needed to push but it was too difficult. They told me they could see her head, I pushed. They told me her head was out, I pushed again. Then she slipped out, along with a hella water and blood and magical things. They don’t tell you it feels like a big dump; but it does. She was out, and we took one look at her beautiful face and fell in love. That’s how it always is I guess. I hadn’t realized my power up until those moments, when the afterbirth came and I saw all the nutrients I had carried for her. I stood up and went to pee after that. It burnt alot but I was ecstatic. A new kind of energy overtook and has continued through to the third year of her being here. Frances Elliot was born at 8:05pm. Weighing in at 2,5kgs.

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I looked up with my new baby in my arms from the ward I was in, it was full moon then and it is full moon today. I watched the sun cover Devils Peak, gradually coming in and the moon descending. A new day, I hadn’t slept. It was all too new. She was on my chest and I left her there; where she suckled and has slept up until now. We were naked, wrapped in each other. You had arrived. It was glorious.

We received the bill for the birth about a week later, R30. R30 for the birth and all of my psychological care and maternal care covered. That’s about $2,15. I think I was so ready to judge our government care because I didn’t understand it. But there I was. Giving labour in a room with other woman in labour. Made to feel I was nothing special, made to feel a part of a bigger power. Held by everyone in the space. I am in awe of the midwives who work in Government care and have devoted their lives to every single kind of woman in this country. I was taught how to get her to latch by the other woman who slept in the ward with me, it was all their third or fourth time giving birth. Surrounded by woman who were welcoming me into motherhood. They showed me how to change her nappy, how to latch, how to wrap. They told me to just leave her on my chest so she could hear my breathing. I felt so held. That evening was worth more than R60k, sorry Kingsbury.

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Frances, I hope one day you read this. There is so much I wish my mother wrote down. You are three today. This time three years ago I was still walking. You have brought me a sense of peace that is very hard to describe but I want you to know I will love you unconditionally, forever. You are precious to us, you will always have our love and support x Happy Birthday, Mom

Our new Summer Collection, Wild Flower

A Fashion Story from the Cape of Good Hope
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“Bone by bone, hair by hair, Wild Woman comes back. Through night dreams, through events half understood and half remembered…”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype
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Photographer: Paige Wood
Models: Electra Nathania & Jacqui Baker
Direction: Amy Ayanda Lester
All garments sewn by Claudine Huijser for Amy Ayanda Studios. All handpainted garments by Amy Ayanda.
 
This month, friend and photographer Paige Wood came on board to help us tell a story for our new Summer Collection, Wild Flower.
The Collection was shot at Good Hope Nursery in Cape Point South Africa, where Roushana Gray from Veld and Sea lives, runs workshops on sustainable living and promotes off the grid life.
 
Our new collection consists of our new Ramie Cotton Jumpsuit and Cotton Wrap Skirt, a new summer wrap dress and new colour ways of our timeless Georgie wrap and tote bag.
Our handpainted bags, head wraps and sarongs are one of a kind and created once off.
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For the full collection of images, check out our facebook page ❤ Our store goes live soon! Look out for the post xx AA Studios

Remember, France

I cannot believe how fast you have grown before our eyes. You are utterly exquisite in your words, impulses and little songs which you like to make up for each action. I am so proud of you already and I guess there was such a huge part of me that wanted to share this with everybody.

I recently found myself in a deep reflection of who I am and what you will take from me as you go out into the world to become YOU. The world is a big beautiful scary place France… full of things that will inspire you and equally exhaust you. Fears run through my mind of how I will keep you safe from all of it but at the same time give you agency to be brave and carry things alone.

If you become anything like me, you will feel alot. And that is ok.

While I know I am strong, I also know that it is ok to crumble. While I know that working hard is important, I also now realize how important soul work is. Time to rest and recharge. Play music, dance, draw, cook at home. All the things I do already but with complete and total attention.

As trivial as this might seem; I want you to know that I will not let you have the memory of me telling my phone what I had for breakfast. Because well, who the fuck cares. This life is just too short to be wasting it the way we have on social media and honestly, I am sorry or exposing you to it without giving you the privacy you deserve as a tiny person growing and learning, taking it all in.

As I removed your photographs, there was a sense of huge relief within me. There was a sense of power and protection. While I want the world to see my love for you, I also want to be your shield while I still can.

I want you to remember that while this world is phenomenal in its beauty (which gives you even more impulse to share); it doesn’t need to be enjoyed by anyone else except you. So enjoy it. Take it in, relax, breathe. (I’m pretty sure this has become a letter to myself…) The modern world is so incredibly fast paced;I have become desensitized by the way in which we sit and watch Instagram stories or by the way we curate things to seem perfect when they are not. I have felt an incredible sense of pressure to share and it all left me this weekend. I feel relieved.

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I want you to remember my resilience, my passion and resourcefulness.

I want you to remember that I love you.

 

 

 

 

Playing with India Ink Home Decor

I traveled to India when I was 17 for a school conference and fell inlove with the smell,  colours and it’s people. Stepping into India you are greeted with an overwhelming colour explosion dripping in floral motifs and careful stitches. It really is one of those places where as you step into it, you are not sure what to think but as time goes on you fall inlove with its intensity and never want to leave. It has a hustle to it which is soon broken by the quiet temples and cold, ancient, stone forts you will find yourself in as your journey continues. I still have my old stitched quilts which I bought during my time there; they take me back to my memories of India. I was presented with a similar nostalgia stepping into India Ink.

I heard of India Ink via word of mouth; there was a little green house in a secret garden that was full of treasures. The shopping experience (for someone with a toddler) was truly perfect. It is intimate, peaceful and efficient. Their unnique collection concentrates on bringing handcrafted products that are done by the smaller communities in India rather than the mass produced; hand selected by Jane on her travels.

As you drive into Weetwood you are greeted by Janes scottie dog and lab. Frank ofcourse loves this and goes straight to play in their beautiful garden. My mother had a hair salon which she ran from home and I guess I have always admired people who keep their passions at home, tucked away like treasures and gracefully welcoming people in. There is an honesty to it which I appreciate so much. The shop space itself is small but is pouring with natural light, making each Indian dyed fabric pop out like spring for your eyes.

I first fell inlove with their selection of mats; there is a wide selection of designs and colours. For someone with a dog and a baby, I can get behind a good plastic mat very easily. They have three different size options which makes its great for all kind of spaces. We grabbed a whole bunch of products and I played around at home. What I love the most about their products is that they are well priced but great quality, and are adaptable to each room I place them in which is super evident in the photos I took. Our home is very eclectic and the products compliment this so much.

Thank you India Ink for reminding me how much I love India. I will definitely be back for more. You can check out the full photo story on my Facebook Page with our shopping experience and playing at home.

You can explore their full collection in their Garden Studio in Constantia, every Wednesday from 10h00 – 15h00, they also trade at the Secret garden market on the last Saturday of every month. Not everyone can shop on weekdays, that is why the have their online store! Use my discount code ‘amyayandaliving’ and receive a 10% discount off your first purchase until the 2nd of October, they also offer free shipping in South Africa for any purchase over R1000.

 

 

Chatting to an old friend; on anxiety and depression

This topic feels all too familiar for me and I’m sure for many others reading this. There is an incredible stigma attached to this subject but when you begin to open up about it you realize how painfully common it really is.

I was diagnosed with depression when I was fifteen; at this point I was not put on medication for it but went to therapy regularly. I think my mom knew it was a problem when I would just stay in my room and cry, constantly. There was and always has been a deep sadness inside of me. It’s a very confusing feeling because it’s a safe place in a strange way. And when depression takes over, it is very easy to stay in the lull and entertain those feelings…anyways, so after a difficult  breakup in 2011 (shame) I was put on meds, I think it was a general Prozac of some kind but needless to say, it helped. I was just finishing my second year at Art School and I knew I needed to something to help cope with all of the pressure that was on me to knuckle down and work. It helped.

Some people do not believe in medication, call it what you will but I have found in my experience with it for the past eight years that it really has helped me. When I am suffering from severe anxiety and depression my entire system shuts down; I stop digesting my food properly (going to the loo does not happen) I am bloated and my energy levels are low AF. When I am on my medication regularly my weight goes back to normal, my bowel movement is regular and I am an all round more put together human being. Don’t get me wrong, the depression is still there (it is always there) but life is more manageable.

I was checked into a clinic for my A and D in 2014 and was in a program for three weeks where I learnt a lot about the physical impacts of depression. Up until that point I always thought I had some kind of illness and went to the doctor regularly. When your body suffers from a trauma or any form of shock, it releases adrenaline as a survival instinct… when your body releases too much over and over it creates an acidic build up in your stomach which causes skin outbreaks, bad indigestion etc. I realised after learning all this in the clinic that it was my depression which was causing all my physical illnesses. I had realized that I did not mourn the loss of my grandfather or uncle. That I had not processed my abusive relationship I had been in for two years, that I had not processed my mothers long term illness… it just all built up like a big poop and my body was left in total shock.

So, the clinic… I learnt alot…I know I am going through an intense time emotionally when my skin breaks out or my water retention is higher than normal. It really is amazing how in tune our bodies are to the outside world. When I am regularly on my medication my symptoms decrease and I begin to feel more energetic and upbeat. Some medication might not work for you and your body may reject it; in 2014 I was put on many different meds in the clinic, I had already told my doctors I didn’t think more medication was a good idea but they assured me it would only be for a short time. I was mis-diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder and put on medication which resulted in me being in hospital for three weeks. I had chronic headaches, very high temperatures and I was certain it was an allergic reaction of some kind… no one knew what was wrong with me. As soon as I went off the meds the symptoms disappeared.

So to sum it all up, I do not think doctors are always right. I think it is important to get to know your depression; to understand the way in which it works; to understand and accept it will always be there and to learn how to manage it. I am on 20mg of Lorien once a day, it is not alot but it helps me immensely. I was on this throughout my pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding after doctors assured me it was perfectly safe. But above all, having Frances inside me really calmed me in ways which are hard to explain. Suddenly your body begins to care for another life and the priorities shift. I began to feel an incredible sense of calm during my third trimester and both baby and I got prepared for the new. Even the birth was cathartic. Anyways, Im not going to ramble on much more about this but if you have any Q’s, feel free to direct message me ❤ sending love on this journey. Today I haven’t washed x

 

 

 

A reflection on two and a half

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
― C.S. Lewis

Little Frances Elliot is two years old now and will be three in January. I am sure all mom’s agree that there is a stage when you begin to get broody; when your little bean is no longer that small helpless soft skinned googly eyed wonder but instead a little person, thirsty to explore and learn, nolonger needing to be tucked under moms wing.

Well sickness hit hard three weeks ago when France got a rash all over her body it changed our routine completely. More like threw it right out of the window. She then caught croup virus which developed into something bacterial. There were lots of tears (from her as well as myself); when your child is burning up so intensely its not hard to feel frustrated and powerless.

Well, one thing that is obvious is that all children get sick. Their bodies are little organisms performing incredible feats. After a comment on my Instagram post from a dear friend, Caron (she is Waldorf teacher) I began reading up about Steiner and his belief on childhood illness. Illness as a very spiritual time for not just the mother, but the child. When children have a fever; they are many times in a very quiet meditative or dreamlike state.  I started to realize, as the days went on, how I needed to become wholly available to her and support her incredibly during this transformative time. I was constantly looking at my phone and getting distracted from the moment of just simply holding her. So as the days went on; we did absolutely nothing but lie and get sweaty together…I began to reflect on a deeper level, my baby was shedding her baby-ness and getting ready for the big wide world all on her own.

Her illness became this soul cleansing process, necessary for the full and complete processing of the shift that was coming. To cry, sweat, cough; and come out the other end, vulnerable but ready or the next chapter (Dean is going to laugh at me later for getting all hippie about this)… But really, From a spiritual perspective, I feel like she was adapting to the ‘new’ as she started school today. I cant tell you how many schools Franks and I visited; as we drove to each one she asked “Are you going to leave me there?” to which I replied, “not today, but we are going to see if we like it and if its a place you would like to stay at for a little bit”… she was there for the entire process…but when it was almost time to go, she got incredibly ill. Co-incidence… I THINK NOT!

So today she is at creche, she left us with complete confidence and went straight for the dolls house without looking back, good sign I’d say.  She just needed three weeks of skin on skin cuddles, backrubs and love. Little lamb leaving the nest, all bright eye’d and bushy tailed. Amy & Frankie 165