There are so many student creatives and artists at UBCO in all different faculties and majors. From poets and writers to visual artists and performers, there are so many incredibly talented students with a diverse array of skills and authenticity. Earlier in the semester, I had the honour of meeting Princess Amuta, a third year student studying International Relations who exemplifies her various skills through her growing businesses: Princess Amuta Collections (PAC) and Wazobia Afrique Catering. She recently took the time to share with me some background on the work she is doing, disclosing how she explored her own creativity that led to her businesses, what her businesses are, and why they are more than just a creative project.
Princess Amuta Collections (PAC)
As Princess explains in a Google form where you can learn more about and order from Princess Amuta Collections (PAC), PAC is “an authentic gift store created to empower and showcase the African Diaspora” which “consists of a range of handmade and traditional African accessories with varieties of colours and patterns”. Along with bracelets, anklets, and other accessories, PAC sells waist beads that are described on the form as consisting of “small glass beads on a strong or wire worn around the waist or hips” that “come in different colors and shapes and may also include decorative stones, crystals, or charms”.
What inspired you to start making your own waist beads and start Princess Amuta Collections?
“I will say people motivated me,” Princess responded. “I used to work in the mall last summer and there was no day someone wouldn’t stop me and ask me questions about the beads I wore. At first, I thought it was out of curiosity (to know what it was and why I wore it), but as time progressed, the questions changed to ‘where can I get one?’, ‘would it be cultural appropriation to put these on?’. And the rest is history.”
Also explained on the Google form is the history of waist beads and their cultural significance in West Africa and more prominently in Ghana and Nigeria. “Waist beads are worn as a celebration of womanhood, sexuality, femininity, fertility, healing, spirituality, body shaping, protection, and wealth,” it reads. “Though the meaning of a waist bead’s color varies from culture to culture, tribe to tribe, the color’s significance is considered very important and powerful in many African communities.”
Did you take inspiration from another creator or influence in your life?
“My mum played a huge role in the starting of this business. I would say she influenced my life by giving me that push,” Princess shared. “I called her one day and I was like, ‘Mommy, I think I’m going to start making waist beads to sell”. I actually said it jokingly, but she took it so serious. She started disturbing me daily, ‘Princess, when are you going to start?’ She went to Michaels and got me lovely beads which influenced me to start creating more pieces.”
How did you explore making waist beads?
“At first, when I started PAC, I was running on a loss. The reason was because I only relied on getting my inventories from Michaels. I had no prior knowledge as to how to source good quality beads at an affordable price. Thanks to Youtube and other content creators, I made it thus far.”
“Creating waist beads allows me to show off my creative skills,” Princess continued. “It is fascinating to see how different stones, beads, and crystals can be combined on a piece of string to create a piece of art, and to sell such a piece is something to be proud of.”
“Making waist beads makes me feel like I have the power to boost any woman’s confidence. To make her love her body and feel comfortable in her skin no matter her race, shape, and size.”
Wazobia Afrique Catering
Along with making accessories, Princess continues to show her multifaceted skill set through cooking. Explaining how cooking has been a large part of her life growing up, Princess revealed how Wazobia Afrique Catering does more than allow her to engage with her creativity.
What inspired you to start Wazobia Afrique Catering?
“Knowing that there were no African restaurants in Kelowna was something that really troubled me,” Princess explained. “Of course, I am from West Africa, Nigeria to be precise, hence the name Wazobia Afrique Catering (a Nigerian cuisine). I realized that a lot of us that are very far from home would love to have a feel of home and those who want to try a side of African cuisine wouldn’t have to go all the way to Africa to taste the food.”
How did you come to find your passion for cooking?
“I love cooking a lot, right from age five and being the first daughter” Princess stated. “Culturally, first daughters are mostly referred to as the second mum because you tend to help your parents in raising the younger siblings because you are much older.”
“My mum runs a catering service in Nigeria where she caters for weddings, anniversaries, thanksgivings, birthdays, and so on. Many of my friends and family say I got it from her and I wouldn’t agree less.”
Do you take inspiration from anyone in your life or an idol?
“Yes, and to no surprise, it’s my mum again,” Princess affirmed. “I see how strong of a woman she is and that’s what makes me emulate her lifestyle. She is an example of a strong black woman. Having lost my dad in 2017, everything (responsibility) had to fall on a single mum with four children. She has taught me that I am unstoppable and I should follow my passion.”
How did Wazobia Afrique Catering come to reality?
“I was with one of my close friends, Felix, and I said to him, ‘I want to start an African restaurant here in Kelowna but I would start with rendering catering services first as I don’t have the means to open a restaurant’,” Princess explained. “‘What a lovely idea,’ he said, and it took us a week to come up with the name Wazobia Afrique Catering.”
What do you like most about cooking?
“People not only enjoying the food (meaning it tastes nice) but also being satisfied (filled),” Princess responded.
In regards to using and experimenting with ingredients, Princess shared how they posed as a difficulty. “Ingredients were a challenge for me,” she shared. “Shipping local goods from Nigeria to Canada was a hustle. Having to pay shipping fee, clearance bills, and custom charges is so expensive but we made it work.”
Creativity within Princess Amuta Collections and Wazobia Afrique Catering
As a full-time student and creative running two growing businesses, Princess shared that her goal for the future is to “be a very successful Black woman”. With all of the experience she has gained and continues to gain, Princess also shared insight into what she has learned and believes is important for other student creatives to know or consider while pursuing their own passions.
“Creative passion not only brings fulfillment but could generate income as well. It is that thing that a student could do at their time outside of the classroom walls,” she explained. “The fact that you can try different things and make mistakes without anyone grading you is even more fun. On top of it all, it is a number one form of therapy.”
“There is nothing more exciting than making money from your hobby,” Princess added. “You wake up every morning happy because you are doing what you find pleasure in,”
In regards to what she has learned over time while pursuing her own creative visions and goals, Princess stated, “I learned that everything takes patience. It might be overwhelming at first, but things would always fall in line.”
For other student creatives, Princess shared some words of advice. “I would say take it easy and find time to rest, because no matter what, your hard work will pay off.”
In addition, Princess Amuta Collections and Wazobia Afrique Catering have exciting news and projects in the works. “I’m excited to tell you that it has been growth all the way,” Princess revealed. “Customers just love our traditional ways of cooking and the blend of our flavours at Wazobia Afrique Catering, that’s why they keep coming back. There is nothing like owning handmade accessories from PAC that empowers, embraces, and emboldens all women in respect of your race to appreciate the African Diaspora.”
“Most excitingly, at PAC, it is buy one get thirty percent off your second purchase for first timers,” Princess added. “And at Wazobia Afrique Catering, everyone gets ten dollars off their first order on soups and four dollars off for a referral. Come experience the culture and the genuineness of West African cuisine!”
Interested in checking out Princess Amuta Collections and Wazobia Afrique Catering? You can follow and support PAC on Instagram through the link here as well as Wazobia Afrique Catering through Instagram through the link here. For more information about PAC and waist beads, or if you would like to place an order, you can follow the link here.