In the era of “Instagram influencers” and “I like your work, lets build” types of people, there is a rare selection of people who actually produce quality work and care about their content. This year, there were few start-ups and content driven platform that thought outside the box and delivered groundbreaking results. Even more inspiring is the fact that Africans are developing more creative ways to share their own stories and talents, on their own terms. (opens in a new window)

Here are some of the really talented individuals, whose work inspired us in 2017.

6. Sam Desalu

Entrepreneur, Manager, Philanthropist, Sam really is a jack of all trades. De Salu Naturals, his line of skincare products, was created because he wanted to create a self-sustainable company, that does not depend on donations in order to give back. The company’s focus is providing women and girls with sanitary reusable pads. He also runs an image consulting company called Forefront Image, a creative space called Loft 303, that he rents out to photographers and other creatives in Los Angeles, a scout and manager for young soccer talent from Africa, and not to mention is also on the management team of Afrobeats artist, Runtown. W

5. Josef Adamu

Even if you aren’t already familiar with his name, you’ve more than likely been already acquainted with his face. The Nigerian-Canadian creative who is the mind and often the subject of various visuals that have gone viral – images that are notable for the strong imagery, matched with great styling and a skillful use of vibrant colors. According to him, his inspiration for each project derives from anything and everything he is surrounded by on a daily basis: architecture, culture, fashion, and social media. Each image depicts an emotion, an experience, and as a collection, a story is told. “My purpose here is to create vivid memories and to inspire others as they inspire me.” Well you’ve inspired us, Joseph, keep on breaking the barriers! Read our interview with him earlier this year here.

4. Ugo Mozie

Stylist of life. This guy is the reason why some of your favorite celebrities look as good as they do. He has worked with the likes of Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, Beyonce, Travis Scott, Celine Dion, Wizkid, and more! He has numerous joint collaborations with different clothing lines, his own hat line, and directs photoshoots. Not only does he know fashion, but he is no stranger to business either. His most recent venture, Mosaic Perfume, is a North and West African-Based luxury perfume that looks to reinvigorate the sector and bring Africa into the positive spotlight.

3. Andy Amadi

You many not know his name but you DEFINITELY know his show. Andy is the mastermind behind the viral youtube sensation BKCHAT. Incase you live under a rock (or in the village), the show centers around a group of young people who hold lively debates on relevant topics and social issues, in a rather entertaining manner. Not only are they popping in their country of origin, the UK, but their popularity has soared in the U.S., creating a BKCHAT NY series as well. Even though the latter may have been met with mixed reviews, say what you want to say about the show, there’s no denying the popularity. Andy is certainly a hard worker, the BkChatWorld is not something that can be easily contained. Working with such diverse group of people, creating a platform where production is expected to meet a professional standard, delivering episodes that reach hundreds of thousands of views within hours…this is no small feat. Kudos! (Read our interview with Andy earlier this year here).

2. Joshua Kissi

Co-founder of TONL and Street Etiquette, Joshua has made waves this year, especially with his photography. If you don’t know by now, TONL provides a solution of creating culturally diverse stock photos that represent the true world we live in. There’s usually is just one race or color that is represented in stock photos (you know the one I’m talking about) and he is helping create diversity in media. He also: Shot Big Krit’s and Lecrae’s album cover, got featured in the NY Times, NPR, OXOSI, delivered some of the most fire pictures you well ever see on Instagram – and still found time to get engaged.

1. Amarachi Nwosu

*screams* this girl is on fyyaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Amara is truly worldwide. This year alone, she got a billboard campaign of her photoshoot with Mr. Eazi, released her debut “Black In Tokyo” film with over 100k views in a week, started her own platform – “Melanin Unscripted“, was featured on over a dozen publications including CNNAfrica, Highsnobiety, OkayAfrica, VICE, Fader, OnetribeMag, graduated college and also…she’s a peng ting (No disrespect, yeah I’m shooting my shot! 🌚) But what exactly does she do, you ask? everything. Photographer, director, writer, curator, speaker, the list goes on. She even shot a social campaign for Adidas Tokyo that featured the first woman of color ever seen on their Instagram page. Some of your favorite photos this year, including Sira Kante, Runtown, and WafflesandCream, have all been through her lens. Her passion for giving back has also allowed her to work on projects with London-based women’s rights group Equality Now and also be an ambassador for D&AD in New York and Princeton University’s race relations. The real kicker – she’s only 23. See your mates, what you doing with your life?

Cheers to wonderful 2017, we’re excited to see what you all have in store for the upcoming year!

 

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