Meet Chi Chi and Nonso of Nkemlife.com
1.) Tell us about yourselves (individually and collectively), what do you do and what are you passionate about?
NkemLife is an award winning lifestyle blog by Chi-chi and Nonso Dureke; two sisters born to Nigerian parents in America and who live in the Washington DC area. The word Nkem pronounced (En – khem) means “mine” or “my own” in Igbo, and “Life” in English; together translated in English as “My Life”. On our blog, we explore our dual identities and culture, creatively through visuals and storytelling pertaining to our personal thoughts, travel, hot spots, beauty, food (niri), culture, and people around the world.
Chi-chi, Co-Founder of NkemLife, is a Graphic Designer, Website Developer, Photographer, Content Curator, and Visual Storyteller for Nkemlife.com. She is Graduate of Frostburg State University with a BA in Fine Arts, Painting and Graphic Design.Chi-Chi chose to actively follow her passion as a fulltime entrepreneur and visual artist as the Founder of CHDeisgnz LLC and Fine Artist painter/illustrator at chidinmadureke.com.
Chuckwunonso Angel Dureke, Co-Founder of NkemLife, is a photographer, visual story-teller, and communications director of NkemLife; most people call her Nonso or Angel. She is currently in school at Howard Univeristy pursing a Masters in Film. She currently works as a freelance writer
2.) How did Nkemlife come to life?
During a summer trip to Jamaica in June of 2014 and reading books written by female writers from the diaspora. Novels like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie book, ‘Americanah’ and ‘Half of the Yellow Sun’ in 2014, inspired us to share our narrative. We both quickly realized that the everyday discussions we have with our friends and the cultural issues we struggle with as sisters was worth sharing. Also, we wanted to have a place where we brought our individual creative talents and passions together to inspire other women while promoting our rich Igbo culture, while living in the States.
3.) NkemLife (roughly) translates to my own life. It’s interesting that you both often incorporate Igbo lessons in your work, You’re both proudly Igbo. How easy or difficult has it been not only having to incorporate your Igbo culture, as well as the general Nigerian culture into your American culture?
Wow, a powerful question. We are proudly Igbo and take it upon ourselves to be Igbo first, before we are Nigerian. We take a lot of pride in our culture and want to shows the gems within our culture when it comes to art. The Igbo culture sometimes does not have a mainstream voice when it comes to the arts so we want to show that we have a voice just as much as the other major tribes in Nigeria like for example, Yoruba culture. So we identify first as Igbo, then Nigerian and then American.
4.) A lot of times, especially first generation Nigerians in the West are faced with mostly well-intended pressure to pursue certain fields of work. Why do you think that is and has it impacted your career decisions at any point in your lives?
As first generation Nigerians like my sister and I, we tend to get pressure from all different angles. For example, what place to take in life, from when to marry, what career to take, all the way down to what seasonings to use in our food. At times it can all be a lot. Despite that, early on my sister and I swore we would never allow anyone else to dictate to us or choose a career path for us. The both of us to have chosen to be artists in different disciplines. But our goal is make sure we still bring honor to our parents by using our creative talents to uplift our women of color. Since the start of our blog in 2014, we have found that the more we continue to pursue our life purpose by telling our stories using different forms of media, the more we are creating opportunities for fellow Nigerian artists and creatives like us.
Its seems like the more Nigerian parents living in the West are open to their children taking the more artistic route in life, the more we begin to see blogs like NkemLife.com . They're now seeing that you can create a stable career from your talents.
5.) How hard was it getting to where you are now as far as your work goes?
None of it has been easy for us at all, especially with the grand and materialistic lifestyle of our Nigerian culture. But oh have the sacrifices been worth it. We spend a lot of our times on the outside looking in because we are trying to create for our culture so we have slowly become spectators of our cultural experiences.This has also allowed us to see things from a fresh perspective, and it allows for our work to be true and authentic. Our dual experience has allowed our blog to reach more people and take us to new spaces. The more we have gotten serious about our work, the more opprtunities that have come our way. We have gotten opportunities like being featured in The Washington Post and weekly writers for I Don’t Do Clubs DC.
6.) Describe yourselves in 3 words (individually)
Nonso: Charismatic, Wise, Creative
Chi-Chi: Artistic, Creative, Ambitious
7.) What’s your advice for a young black creative who is finding it difficult to find their place or who lacks confidence in their work?
In the beginning it may seem like it is all pointless, and that you should stop trying. You MUST be and remain passionate about your beliefs because many people will question your vision along the way. You have to ask yourself how bad you want it. Follow your heart and stay true to your narrative, someone someday will see all your hard work and believe in it as much as you do, but for the meantime you have to be willing to do the work in silence.
8.) Where can we find you guys? What are your social media handles?