December 30, 2022
our year in review
I went back home to Dakar, Senegal to attend my friend’s wedding and see my family
Maman, my sister Sokhna and I all have birthdays in January and it was very special to celebrate all together. We flew to Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire and had a fabulous week filled with art, music, and nice food. The birthday brunch at Sofitel Ivoire was my highlight.
We started a big partnership with Nordstrom that drastically changed our growth trajectory.
This allowed us to hire more artisans and learn to level up our supply chain. My favorite part is how this allowed us to reach so many new muses.
I went to a Creator's Retreat with my US marketing team in the middle of the rainforest in Mexico at the One&Only Mandarina.
This was one of the most epic hotel stays I have ever experienced. We learned so much about content creation and I became more confident in embracing my role of Creator alongside Entrepreneur and Creative Director.
We launched our PALMA collection and debuted our first jewelry collection!
PALMA is inspired by palm trees and celebrates this family of flowering plants associated with feelings of joy and tropical wanderlust. We styled the garments with our debut jewelry collection, featuring geometric earrings, hand-crafted in rich sterling silver and up-cycled brass and plated with 18k gold.
I discovered VR workouts and everything changed
My friend Payam introduced me to VR workouts and I installed the supernatural app. I completely changed my routine and worked out almost every day in the evenings after work. You basically get to do boxing, dancing, meditation in surreal environments around the world without leaving your house. This is the first time I looked forward to going to the gym and I felt so much happier. I ended up losing 15 pounds in 5 months, but that was not even the point. I gained in terms of balance and my sleep improved so much. I was able to keep up with the discipline through August and even used the VR headset while traveling to Europe all Summer. I lost the habit from September onwards due to overworking and not making time for it. Will definitely resume in 2023.
We expanded our Dakar team with a new Operations Manager and even more artisans
We were selling out everyday and had to figure out very fast how to scale our made to order business model sustainably without producing inventory (I do not believe in inventory, unless it is from returns or sampling). You can learn more about it here.
I was invited to speak at the MIT Africa Innovate Conference
After being invited as a speaker / guest lecturer at Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley, I was beyond excited to be a panelist at the Africa Innovate conference and share more about our innovations with DIARRABLU and how we are able to reduce waste in the fashion industry while using math and data to design faster.
I went to a DIARRABLU Summit in New York with our COO
I flew to New York and got to meet some friends, attend a BOF event and have our annual DIARRABLU Summit with our COO. It was so fun to be in the city and discover new restaurants and hidden spots in Brooklyn. He always makes the best Summit programs with a nice balance of work and play.
We had a very special Meet a Muse edition with moms
To celebrate Mother's Day, we invited our muses to share about their motherhood journey. We started with my own Maman and you can read the full story in our journal here.
We launched the LUNA Collection
Inspired by the moon, its rich geometry, abundance, convertibility and timelessness, LUNA is a collection of versatile pieces created intentionally to be mixed and matched for a rich vacation wardrobe. This was the official start of ‘Hot Girl Summer’ or ‘Rich Auntie Summer’ whichever is more relevant for you!
DIARRABLU participated in the "Emerge in Color" Pop up in LA!
This was our first Pop up in LA. We joined the Maison Black pop up with other incredible black-owned brands. For us, as a digital first brand, it is always exciting to see real life activations and customers’ reactions to our products. I can’t wait to test more pop ups in 2023.
I went to London to meet someone very special
My sister Sokhna had a baby boy and I went to visit them in London. I could never imagine a love this deep could exist! I am so beyond grateful for Baby Raheem (I call him Biggie Boo) and every moment spent with him reminds me that the most beautiful and meaningful thing in life is just love. Looking at his eyes is pure divine love.
I decided on the future of the company
For the longest I had major imposter syndrome around being a CEO. I even avoided using that title. In June, I had the realization that I really had to step into this role and actually start thinking about how I want to scale this business with my own team. So far we scaled mostly on the artisan-side in Senegal, managed by Maman and her team. But I was always scared of having more people to manage myself. I just felt too adult for me. In June I decided I would do things differently and learn how to grow my own team just like Maman. I am excited to hire more in-house employees in the US in 2023 onwards and learn how to scale beautiful products, talented people and efficient processes and build a company culture I am proud of.
My Mediterranean Summer Escapade begins!
After spending a month in London with my sister, her baby and Maman, I booked a one way ticket to Mykonos and decided that for the next 6 weeks, I would just follow my heart and book subsequent destinations in the Mediterranean as I see fit. This is how I started the brand back in 2013/2014 and I really missed this feeling of pure freedom and wonder. I was working remotely this time around for this to be actually possible.
I started with Mykonos, Tinos and Santorini in Greece
My time in Greece was so fulfilling. Mykonos gave me all the party energy I missed. Dancing until the sunrise and having breakfast right after before going to bed was pure bliss. Tinos gave me a surprise I will never forget. This underrated island was pure magic, and such beautiful life lessons around trusting the universe and always discovering more beauty if you truly believe it. Santorini was beautiful and the perfect end to my journey in Greece.
I went to explore Mallorca island in Spain
I was on a mission to find new magical spots in Mediterranean islands. Mallorca was beautiful and restorative. I slept, ate, made new friends and the highlight was discovering a beautiful village called Valldemossa.
I discovered Sicily, Italy
A new friend in Greece recommended Sicily and helped me with the perfect travel itinerary. I am forevwe grateful for these amazing encounters. I first went to Cefalu a picturesque beach village for a week and then to Taormina, a more modern town. My time in Italy was my favorite from the Summer because I was not creating content or posting. I was fully present and didn’t share anything about it until October. I was alone, setting up my own schedule and going for a swim twice a day. I will never forget this trip.
We dropped the Greece Capsule Collection
I decided to revisit 4 best-selling prints in the dress style you muses have been tagging us on the most; The iconic SATU dress. We revisited it in Costa Blu, Suto Gold, Tilo Cream and Yraf Blue. I took these photos in Greece the previous month and seeing muses going back to Greece to recreate the same content is amazing. One of the campaign videos for this edit became viral with 4.7million views (we gained over 10k followers). I still don’t get it, I am just genuinely dancing in Mykonos for a few seconds. But I guess the abundance of happy energy I was feeling in that moment was truly felt for millions of people!
I returned to California and presented my work at Stanford University
I got to present my unique approach merging math and art to Math Education leaders from around the country. I felt honored that conversations around the future of Math Education involved my work and I can’t work to share more of it next year. You can learn more about the intersectionality between my design approach and classroom mathematics here (I have taught high school math for 5 years).
We upgraded our in-house design app
After months of planning and various iterations on our in-house design app, we finally started a V2 with new features and endless possibilities! I use this app to design our whole collection prior to production and it allows us to minimize waste and saves me so much time. I am so grateful for our team for making this possible.
We launched the VIA VANNI Collection
Our Fall 2022 Collection was inspired by Via Vanni, a picturesque alley in Cefalu, Sicily, where I walked daily during the Summer to go to the beach and enjoy the dolce farniente.
Our Muses helped us design our next collection
To design our pieces, we generate thousands of print iterations with math concepts or personal drawings and only produce what’s needed, based on your engagement and responses to our polls. This year you helped us A LOT once again and I'm beyond grateful!
We traveled to a private island in the Maldives
We had a secret trip to private island resort LUX South Ari Atoll to shoot our Resort '23 campaign. This was the biggest trip ever. 12 people flew from San Francisco, London, Dakar, Cape Town and Abidjan, to meet in the Maldives and create the campaign for our Resort Collection. The highlights were spending time with my Biggie Boo 👶🏽 in between shoots, having my family around and working so closely with my creative team from Cape Town who are now like family
We launched the FILUN Collection
For Resort ‘23, we journeyed to a tropical island paradise and created a special campaign to tell our magical story of FILUN; Maldivian for ‘escape’. This is our first collection in collaboration with a luxury hotel and it was such a good idea. Although these pieces were launched in November as part of Resort, I can see them becoming part of our timeless signature collections.
We showcased in Dakar Fashion Week
I landed in Dakar in early December to showcase our Resort 23 collection for Dakar Fashion Week. This was the 20th anniversary of this initiative led by the incredible Adama Paris and it was such an honor to be part of it. Showing our collection in historic Goree island was incredible.
I attended the Chanel 2023/23 Métiers d’Art show
When I heard last Spring that Chanel would present its 2022/23 Metiers d’Arts collection in Africa for the very first time, I was excited but also very skeptical. I questioned the intentionality behind this work and was very curious about how it would be executed in a culturally sensitive and respectful manner given the heavy historic power structures between France and Senegal. I was really impressed by Chanel’s approach to this destination show and the event was a success. You can read more about my sentiments here.
We traveled to a new secret location for the Spring 2023 campaign
I can’t say much yet. But it was so special. And Baby Raheem was part of it :).
I spent Christmas in Dakar with my family
I love how this year started and ended in Dakar, even though I live in the Bay Area. Dakar inspires me so much and is truly the core of our work.
This is where it all started 10 years ago in my bedroom with my mom and this is where the heart of what we do is: our artisans, our family, our inspiration.I learned this year how important it is to have a solid team and I want to thank each and everyone, in New York, Sao Paulo, San Francisco, London, Madrid, Dakar, Abidjan, Cape Town, Jakarta, Manilla. I could not have gotten here without you all! I also learned how essential it is to create a community with your customers. I call you muses because you inspire me so much. Thank you for supporting our work, for asking questions, for answering my polls, for sending me your pictures and for making this work have meaning. I love you all so much!
I look forward to making more magic in 2023.
Happy New Year my loves!
— Love, Diarra