What an amazing few weeks!
Two weeks ago, Cocoa Girl Book was featured both in the Metro online, and live on Channel 5 News (see interview link on your left)! Since the official launch in January, the book has had a fantastic response from parents, children and now celebrities, all sending encouragement and support.
About Cocoa Girl Book
Cocoa Girl book is all about affirming young girls of colour, empowering them to achieve beyond what is expected of them. This book helps parents engage and build confidence in their children with incredible photos and empowering statements.
Behind the vision
My wife, Serlina Boyd, had an empowering idea that would help build confidence into our six-year-old daughter, Faith, who was experiencing difficulties at school and felt somewhat alienated because of the colour of her skin. My daughter expressed her concerns on numerous occasions about how different she felt and questioned why she was excluded from the other children in the school. While I have personally never experienced discrimination in my childhood (as I’m aware of), my wife did, and she expressed her concerns to me and the idea behind the book. The idea was great, and I wanted to contribute through the use of photography, so I lent her my ear, and added my thoughts from a visual perspective.
For the book, we wanted to feature a diversity of tones, with an age range between 2-16 years old. To do this, we publically advertised an open audition via social media, inviting friends, family and others, where the parental guardian could enter their child to be featured in the first edition of Cocoa Girl Book. The response was overwhelming, and the acknowledgement echoed that this was missing from bookshelves, homes and stores.
We shot all 31 models in a lovely space in Brixton called White Room Studio. It was a relatively large space that had a cooking area to which we took advantage to feed and sustain the children on the day. The 8-hour shoot went very well with lots of happy faces, music and some very confident children. As I engaged with the guardians and their children, it seemed to resonate to me that this book could be unique as a few shared the struggles they had faced and how this experience, having a professional photo taken made them feel special. It brought a smile to my face because I realised that doing something I love can make people happy.
We also had a makeup artist come on the day to provide the right look for the individuals photographed. I’ve worked with Rahila Wadud (the MUA for the day) on many projects. She had kindly modelled for me on a few occasions, so it was a no brainer when it came to working with someone I could trust, especially when dealing with vulnerable ages. Check out her work, she is excellent.
The launch party
The launch party took place, at Impact Brixton, a lovely space that catered to our vision for a small market space were product owners could sell their products to supporters who were there for the revealing of the book. The atmosphere was terrific, and the vibe was positive.
There was also an award for each child featured in the book, and recognition for those who are already making an impact in the community, young leaders such as; drummer sensation, Geneva London and motivational speaker, Queen Kenz.
We have many more inspirational projects in the pipeline, one being a male version of the book. We are looking at sponsors and media support, so if you want to be involved, do let us know.
It will take a neighbourhood to raise a child and to affirm them in their future. The generation to come must be tooled with appreciative words that are uplifting, and the support needed to succeed as a community, as a nation, and people… no matter the race. We can only achieve this by working together, removing the stereotypes, reworking what media displays as beautiful and attractive. We can do this together, we can reconfigure the mindset of our young successors of the future. They are our future, and we need them to know how precious and vital they are… They are the leaders of tomorrow.