How WAFFLESNCREAM are navigating the new normal

Words by Hauwa R. Mukan

The global COVID 19 pandemic sparked chaos around the world, grounding many businesses and forcing brands to revise their business strategies and models like never before.

The WAFFELSNCREAM team is no different, as Nigeria’s first skateboarding brand they’ve had to make some uncomfortable adjustments in this new climate, still forging forward with a new clothing drop, skate edit, opportunities for the future and some initiatives to alleviate the suffering for the less fortunate in their Lagos communities.

BLACK LIVES MATTER

Jumpsuits, t-shirts and bucket hats from the new collection have been selling out. Is it a response to #BLACKLIVESMATTER that has swept the US by storm? Forcing brands and businesses to re-assess the way they deal with their market of people of African descent, in turn shining a spotlight on existing – yet sometimes overlooked- brands owned by people of darker skin in the local and international markets? Or is this just a trend that will settle as soon as the hash-tags and protests disappear from our feed and news screens?

Creative Director Jomi recalls a story of having to send endless paperwork in order to justify the brand’s legitimate business existence. An arduous process filled with endless paperwork that other skate brands in the West will most likely never have to experience. But we know how it is in Nigeria, the unfortunate reputation we have internationally, that strikes fear in the hearts of new international customers/ suppliers because of the stories of cybercrime and systemic corruption – these are the hurdles we face.

These are the racist struggles for us on the African continent, but the WAFFLESNCREAM brand is legit like any other skateboarding company. They are resilient, and here to stay. I mean there’s an entire skate-park they’re building, but let’s leave that victory lap for now until it’s completed. Over the course of the nationwide lockdown, the brand has had time to re-strategize and reorganize. First of all, the streets have been clear so the skaters have been taking full advantage, catching sessions here and there.

 YASIS AND THE LOCKDOWN

 “With the arrival of Covid-19 it stifled us, it shook us and we were freaked out, now we are skating like we used to skate in the beginning. There are now less distractions now, no parties, clubs or other vices that take away our focus- and the roads are actually empty as well. We were able to skate more regularly.”

Progress we will witness in their next skate edit “Lagos Island” due to drop in a few months. But you can catch 13 minutes of African shredding awesomeness in their latest cross over skate edit, YASIS, directed by Mosako “Lowsso” Chalashika from Botswana, highlighting their summer 2019 skate tour across Accra, featuring the WAFFLESNCREAM skate crew from Lagos – Fahd Bello & Henry and Okwubuasi and Accra locals Adrys, Mantedent, Lionel McFirst, John Brobel, Yaw Adeiei and J. Ganyobi from Ghana.

THE NEW DROP

In an ironic sartorial coincidence  – the Seme jumpsuit full body with pockets and branding in thick Ankara fabric is eerily reminiscent of the PPE outfits we see on first responders and medic on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic. Whereas their new of Agege t-shirts were designed specifically for COVID relief, with all the proceeds going to the Lagos Food Bank initiative, providing free meals for those hard struck by the economic impact of the pandemic in local Lagos communities.

“We didn’t know people would respond to it so fast, and we did the t-s in response to feeding our immediate community in Lagos.”

GLOBAL COMMUNITY

“We have been denouncing racism and colonialism, we’ve always been political in the way we think and execute our ideas. We embrace who we and we look forward to the future.”

A future that includes a newly renovated shop in Victoria Island, and an online podcast revival the VIBES platform – most commonly known for experiential events showcasing DJ’s artist and musicians buzzing in the scene. And of course many more dope clothing drops and international collaborations.

So stay safe, be kind to one another.

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