Written by Imogen Brighty-Potts
Young British entrepreneur Avila Chidume’s brand Avila Diana creates and sells the coolest, most inclusive Christmas cards, greeting cards and gifts, and you are going to want them all.
A 23-year-old called Avila Diana Chidume, who hails from Kent, is the brains behind the coolest, most diverse and inclusive greetings cards and gifts company out there. And you are going to want them all for Christmas.
The website, Avila.Diana, which launched in 2018, is named after its creator and sells a range of greeting cards, wrapping paper and gifts but with a twist on the usual offerings.
The range varies from wrapping paper to Valentine’s Day cards depicting LGBTQ+ couples, awareness postcards featuring people with disabilities and mental health cards to send to friends and family who are having a hard time; Chidume has worked hard to try and be inclusive in her business (you’ll also fun cute Happy Hanukkah and Happy Diwali greeting cards).
The original, artistic cards start at £3.25, or £30 for a pack of ten, with rolls of wrapping paper for £5 and prints and mugs for £15-£16.
Expanding her business, Chidumehas now launched a global marketplace, Kutenda, selling the art of minority groups – from cool prints, bookmarks, sketchbooks, tea towels to greeting cards.
Even more impressive, the entrepreneur established her two small businesses during her time studying law at Southampton University. Since then she has received attention from the Pharrell Williams in his most recent music video Entrepreneur (featuring Jay Z) which shines a light on young, gifted Black self-starters.
Her starter business, Avila.Diana was born out of a desire to make everyone feel seen with artwork depicting people we don’t normally see on greetings cards – from LGBTQ+ couples to people with vitiligo and women in hijabs.
Zimbabwe-born Avila has always loved to paint and draw. However, she noticed a problem with her own talents early on: “I was very good at drawing Eurocentric features, but when it came to drawing an African person with Afro hair, I struggled. It seems silly looking back at it now, it was as if that wasn’t desirable or pleasing to draw. I now know what a bad mindset that is to have, but it was influenced by the environment around me and the media I was exposed to.”
Chidume turned her artistic attention to the world of greetings cards and gifts while pursuing her degree in law. When she realised that representation in the greetings card industry was sorely lacking, she decided she had to do something.
She says: “Greetings cards conform to old stereotypes, which are not reflective of the society we live in. We live in such a multicultural and diverse world that it doesn’t make sense that you can’t go out and buy a greeting card with a Black family, a non-binary person or an Asian family or just someone of a different sexuality on it.”
Chidume tells Stylist.co.uk about how she knew she had found a niche: “I was [selling my cards] at a small market and this one little kid who came with their mum and got so excited when they saw the cards. They said to their mum ‘It looks like me!’”
“That has been ingrained in my mind”, she continues. “That is what keeps me going. No matter how much media attention I get, the thing that is most pivotal is the support to and from people in these communities. What the industry has always been telling us to be the truth, isn’t. People genuinely want to see people like them on the front of greetings cards.”
To encourage other creatives, Chidume launched Kutenda – a global, diverse, marketplace which showcases and sells the work of other creative talents. Launched during the 2020 pandemic, Kutenda is a much-needed platform where artists from can be seen and sell their art.
Chidume explains: “Kutenda translates to ‘thankful’ in Shona, which is a popular language spoken in my home country, Zimbabwe. For me, Kutenda is the perfect name for this platform because it encapsulates the difference I want to make; putting the personal and meaningful elements back into greeting cards.”
Check out Avila Diana here and Kutenda here
Images: Avila Diana Chidume
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