This blog post marks the start of a new series of posts we’ll be hosting on our blog — Dutil Stories. Denim is fascinating in its own right. A person could spend hours and hours online familiarizing themselves with manufacturing information, product knowledge and history alone. We believe, however, that denim is most interesting when it intersects with the lives of people. Dutil Stories is our effort to investigate these intersections and give explanation to the phenomena of denim through the lives of its owners and lovers. Which brings us to our first entry. Meet Abba.
Abba’s originally from Alberta. Well, she’s originally originally from Sudan, Africa — at the age of three her family immigrated to Alberta, Canada. Youngest of eight kids, Abba recalls the distinct freedom that came with being the ‘baby’. She’d pick out bold outfits to wear starting at a young age as a way of carving a pathway unlike her older siblings’. Little did she know that carving out pathways of her own would become a theme throughout her life.
At the age of eight, Abba’s mother taught her how to sew. Abba’s mother learned to sew from her mother, and so an interest in textiles was a sort of family heirloom. A skill passed down from generation to generation. Abba would continue to sew throughout her teens and young-adulthood, and, unbeknownst to her, the skill would later blossom into a skill needed to pursue the avenues of life she’d choose.
Abba spent the next few years of her life in school. An enthusiastic learner, she ended up concluding her time at the University of Alberta’s Stage Production program prematurely having felt she’d picked up the skills and knowledge needed to progress in the textile field. After a couple years spent back home, Abba decided to move to London, England. She’d initially planned the trip with the intentions of studying fashion. Overwhelmed by the pace of the city, however, she decided to forgo school and instead find her rhythm in the city. She spent time with family, made community and found work. With enough experience and lessons acquired, Abba decided she’d make another big move; this time to Vancouver, B.C.
However, she didn’t make it to Vancouver without first making a two month long pit-stop in her hometown, Regina. It was then that she decided to start her fashion label, Lucid Tribe. She designed and sewed a limited collection of pieces from traditional African fabrics she’d inherited from her mother. She released the pieces as a part of her first ever curated event called “The Divine Feminine.” Not unlike her younger self, Abba started Lucid Tribe as a way of initiating a pathway forward for herself.
At the end of her two months in Regina Abba packed up for Vancouver, B.C. To make ends meet she picked up a managerial position at a Levi’s outlet store, and in her spare time she continued designing small-batch pieces for Lucid Tribe which she sold to friends and family. It was after about a year of working at Levi’s that Abba had an epiphany. In her time working at Levi’s, she saw plenty of opportunities for them to take advantage of cultural zeitgeist to give their brand meaning and purpose. To Abba, these were crucial opportunities that were being missed, especially in an age where brand mission has arguably become as important to consumers as that brand’s products. Thus, Abba decided that she no longer wanted to work for brands; instead, she wanted to collaborate with brands to help them forecast trends in culture.
Nomad Empire is the name of Abba’s most recent entrepreneurial initiative. As chief Cultural Curator, Abba works with brands to help them engage with their customer bases through cultural trends and curated events. She’s also working on reinventing Lucid Tribe as a residency program that hosts younger creatives. Realizing now how significantly Lucid Tribe impacted her as a creative in search of purpose, she’s keen to extend that opportunity to those around her.
At the time of writing this, Abba is back home in Regina visiting friends and family. She’s also managed to schedule some time with fellow creatives and curators based in the area. If we’ve learned anything from Abba’s life, it’s that the only way to create purpose in life is to carve it out yourself.