Fashion Brands Lend A Helping Hand In The COVID-19 Pandemic

Since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, many manufacturers of medical supplies such as sanitizers, masks, ventilators, gloves and hospital gowns have felt the pressure in the increased demand of these products. A number of fashion brands have stepped forward to assist in making the manufacturers work lighter.

In New York City where cases have risen to roughly 16 000 and counting, top fashion companies like Prada, Christian Siriano and Brandon Maxwell are using their designing abilities to create gowns and masks to assist hospitals in the state of New York and around the USA that are suffering from the shortage of medical supplies. The Los Angeles Apparel has also jumped in by aiming to produce and supply LA hospitals with 50,000 hospital gowns and 300,000 masks for free per week.

Kenyan fashion designer David Ochieng, known for his looks like Avid fashion brand, is working non-stop in his studio to design masks using recycled African print fabric from his designs. He gives out the masks for free in hopes that it assists in curbing the spread of the coronavirus in and around the most vulnerable communities in Kenya. Ochieng also uses the distribution of his masks as a way of educating individuals on the importance of self-protection against the virus.

A Cape Town sunglasses company named Ballo has also decided to join the train by creating fashion-forward face masks. Ballo uses disgarded pieces of material to make these masks and has made roughly around 500 masks already and vows to continue making the masks. These masks don’t completely prevent infections from the coronavirus but, are aimed at reminding individuals to cover their mouths and avoid touching their faces. It also assists as a block to the spreading of the virus by those already infected.

Celebrities in Nigeria has opted to wear blinged-up and bedazzled masks to make a fashion statement about the importance of taking precautions against the COVID-19 disease. Jack Ma, a company in China, has donated medical supplies to all of Africa to assist them in the fight against the coronavirus.

It is important to bear in mind that masks do not completely prevent you from contracting the coronavirus, but merely just stops you from touching your face and sneezing or coughing onto others. Remember to always keep your hands clean by washing them with disinfectant soap and using hand sanitizer. Keep safe South Africa!

 

5 FASHION RULES TO LIVE BY!

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In the fashion department, there are many rules that are created and followed by individuals and there are equally as much rules to break. This week we will focus on 5 fashion rules that we believe are important.

1. Be comfortable in what you wear.

Comfort is key to looking good and feeling even better. This has to be the most important rule when it comes to fashion. There are instances when individuals look totally good in their ensamples, but they feel completely uncomfortable in it. Discomfort stifles your ability to rock and own what you are wearing and it distracts you from everything. Choose clothing that will make you feel comfortable always and wear your clothing with pride!

2. Own basic clothing pieces.

We all have that one basic item that we can wear with anything. When you think of basic clothing, you think of a white t-shirt, jeans, heels or your favourite sneakers. Basic clothing can be anything that is not too over the top and you can never go wrong with owning them in your closet. They provide endless outfit choices.

3. Do not be afraid to be yourself.

There are a lot of trends that drop every year and we tend to lose ourselves and lose that one particular thing that makes our style unique when we indulge ourselves into these trends. Even though we don’t like the new trend, we feel peer pressured when we see everyone is participating in the new trend. Break free from the peer pressure or media pressure. Do not be afraid to showcase your own personal style and perhaps start your own trend! Why fit in when you were born to stand out?

4. Wear anything you want to.

Have you ever heard people saying that tall women should not wear heels, short women should not wear long dresses and you cannot wear all white? Don’t let fashion stereotypes restrict you from wearing something you like or dressing a certain way. If you feel like you look good, you feel good and you’re comfortable in what you are wearing, forget about what is said and just do you. Break free from those stereotypes and dress for yourself, not for the public.

5. Don’t save your outfits.

We all have our clothing that we wear everyday and our favourite pieces of clothing that we reserve just for special occasions. However, what happens to these clothing items when there is no occasion to wear them? Eventually we’ll outgrow them. Let everyday be your own occasion, pair your usual clothing with your reserved clothing to create chic casual looks that are fitting for everyday of the week.

Style Radar: Lulutho Skeyi

This week our Style Radar detected Lulutho Skeyi, an aspiring writer, journalist, all-round media personnel and an aspiring fashion designer. She sees beauty in everything and finds expression through writing, art and fashion. Lulutho is all about self-empowerment, women empowerment and she aspired to become an activist for all women.

Lulutho loves how different and diverse fashion is for everyone. “Fashion expresses one’s identity and we can tell people a lot about ourselves (without having to say anything) through our choice of clothing”, she said.

She also stated that fashion is a instant language. “As a visual artist, I view fashion as an art form too. It accommodates everyone and I absolutely love that fashion is constantly changing!” she added.

Lulutho defines her sense of fashion as ‘Streetwear style’. “My style is simple, but unique. It changes on a daily depending on my mood and/or my inspiration for the day”, she said.

A number of things inspire Lulutho’s style such as; nature or a certain movement (feminist movement or the love for and by queer people). She also added, ” I even inspire my own style, but my number one fashion icon that I look up to for style is Rihanna. She is so free-spirited and carefree through her style and she is not afraid of wearing outfits that cause controversy with stereotypical people. She just portrays a sense of feminism.” 

We asked Lulutho if there are any fashion rules she follows and she said, “I feel that for a unique and cool look, it is okay to sometimes break fashion rules. However, not being afraid to be myself is one fashion rule that I live by and I don’t save clothing for certain occasions. I make every ordinary day an occasion for myself and wear whatever I feel like and whenever.”

Lulutho enjoys switching up her style from looking like a hippie to looking like a tomboy, girly girl, sporty girl, goth or even ethnic fashion style. However, discussing her ideal everyday look she stated, “My everyday look would be a good pair of jeans with chic sneakers, a cool expressive top and a touch of jewellery pieces.”

“What advice would you give individuals who are trying to find their voice through fashion?” we asked Lulutho.

“They should not be afraid to simply be themselves. Be courageous, keep things simple, look for inspiration, ask for help, accessorise, know what you want, make thrift stores your best friend, get creative with your combinations, don’t ever change your style to accommodate others or to fit in, stand out! Do you and have fun!” Lulutho concluded.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from the Urban Afro Concept team. We hope the end of the last decade had been kind to you and we wish you a productive and prosperous New Year! As always, Urban Afro Concept continues to evolve. For the most part, we haven’t introduced too many new changes and continue to offer high-quality handmade accessories. We are, however, excited to share that our team continues expanding, we will be introducing some new products soon and we’re looking forward to more collaborations and events this year. Here’s what to expect from us in 2020…

UAC Accessories + custom orders 

Shop our online store for our range of lovingly handcrafted jewellery and accessories. We stock big and bold statement pieces as well as dainty and delicate little accessories that liven up your look. We have bangles, earrings, necklaces, rings and hair accessories. There’s something for everyone. We often offer products at reduced prices and giveaways.

 

As you may or may not know, we also take orders for made-to-measure custom accessories. For more information on our custom jewellery service, visit our website. Download our CUSTOM ORDER FORM if you’re ready to put in an order for a custom accessory made according to your specifications.

Ethnique Afrika X Urban Afro Concept 

We’ve finalized our joint catalogue with our partner brand, Ethnique-Afrika (an innovative designer and manufacturer of chic and sophisticated, African-inspired attire.) The catalogue provides customers with information on our products and services. The catalogue also provides links to the online store and other useful information such as payment options, shipping options, our custom order policy etc. The UAC online shop still stocks some Ethnique-Afrika merch including a limited array of beautiful, high-quality wax print fabrics in a variety of colours and patterns as well as cravats in silk and wax print. More products to follow soon.

Click the following link to download the catalogue: UAC and EA catalogue FINAL

 

Work opportunities 

JOIN OUR TEAM

We’re always open to collaborating with bloggers and getting contributions from both experienced bloggers and those with solid writing skills who are looking to gain some experience. At present, we do not offer any monetary compensation for blog contributions. However, you will be publicly credited as the author of the pieces you write for us.

We also have a number of opportunities for interested parties to work directly with us by joining our team. In particular, we are currently accepting and reviewing applications for brand ambassadors, online sales consultants and media interns based in any location. These positions are unsalaried but our people would get paid a commission based on their sales of our products and interns receive a modest stipend for the duration of the internship. We’re looking for anyone, in any location, who fits the profiles outlined on the website.

 

That’s all for now!

Stay tuned to this blog for more updates and news including new competitions, giveaways and features. Also, subscribe via email and you’ll be entitled to R50 off your first purchase. WordPress subscribers can drop us an email (urbanafroconcept@gmail.com) to claim their voucher.

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For more information on our products, services and collaborating opportunities, please do not hesitate to get in touch. You can also send us a message via Instagram or Facebook.

 

 

News, updates, jobs and more

It’s been quit a busy time for Urban Afro Concept. In the last few months, we’ve been occupied with a number of activities and changes to our ever-growing little business. We also have some exciting new developments and we’re extremely excited about what the near future holds for us. We thought we’d you let you in on what we’ve been up to and what’s to come.

Standard Bank Top Women Awards 

Last month , we had the privilege of showcasing at the Standard Bank Top Women Conference. This Conference brings together and celebrates women business leaders as well as South African organizations, both private and public, that prioritize and embed women empowerment and gender equality in their business strategies. As a woman-led business Urban Afro Concept was honoured to be a part of this event and share a stand with our partner brand, Ethnique-Afrika. The conference was a great success and was a valuable opportunity to showcase the latest in our collections, engage with new clients and of course network with other businesses that are founded or run by women.

Ethnique Afrika X Urban Afro Concept 

Speaking of Ethnique-Afrika, as you may or may not know, our partner brand is an innovative designer and manufacturer of chic and sophisticated, African-inspired attire. We’re pleased to let you all know that the collaborative ties remain strong not only with us adding more EA stock to our store but with us launching a joint catalogue that for all our products. The catalogue will provide an additional means for customers to get a feel for the types of products we make and sell, where to get them and how to put in orders for custom clothing and accessories, our specialty. As regards the online shop, UAC now stocks some Ethnique-Afrika merch including a limited array of exquisite, high-quality wax print fabrics in a variety of colours and patterns as well as cravats in silk and wax print. More products to follow soon.

 

New stock and custom orders

We also have a variety of new products which are now  available for purchase through the UAC online shop. This includes new necklaces, bangles and rings which were on display at the Top Women Conference.

 

Also, we’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about whether or not we do products for men and we do indeed have stock that works for both women and men including our beaded necklaces and our bracelets. We also take orders for custom jewellery and are finalizing our order form which should streamline the process of requests for made-to-measure jewellery and accessories that are made to our customer’s specifications.

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Work with us 

We’re always open to collaborating with bloggers, especially those who have an interest in men’s fashion. We’re interested in getting contributions from both experienced bloggers and those with solid writing skills who are looking to gain some experience. At present, we do not offer any monetary compensation for blog contributions. However, you will be publicly credited as the author of the pieces you write for us.

We also have a number of opportunities for interested parties to work directly with us by joining our team. In particular, we are currently accepting and reviewing applications for brand ambassadors and online sales consultants. These positions are unsalaried but our people would get paid a commission based on their sales of our products. We’re looking for anyone, in any location, who fits the profiles outlined on the website.

That’s all for now! Stay tuned to this blog for more updates and news including new competitions, giveaways and features.


 

For more information on our products, services and collaborating opportunities, please do not hesitate to get in touch. You can also send us a message via Instagram or Facebook.

Style Radar: Javan Sokoni Mutale

This week our style radar picked up on Javan Sokoni Mutale, a Zambian street style aficionado, whose look denotes both flexibility and simplicity. We delved deeper into how this blogger’s style defines him as well as the fashion rules he lives by.

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Javan is the epitome of the modern-day, urban gentleman, with looks that leave a lasting impression. And this is one of the things he enjoys most about fashion – the statement that clothing can make about a person.

“What I like about fashion? All I can say is I love to dress up, I love to look the best. An outfit says a lot about someone you meet for the first time,” he says.

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His ideal look is one which couples versatility with simplicity, leaning primarily towards urban or street style.

“I love street style outfits. My style speaks versatility in everything I wear. But in as much as I like to be versatile, I’m a minimalistic dresser. Looking great doesn’t really need lots of accessories and layers of clothing, looking great just requires you to have the wardrobe essentials like a basic white tee and a basic black tee.”

These are the principles governing Javan’s outfit choices which result in clean, comfortable ensembles that turn heads. This fashion blogger also finds that the price tag doesn’t necessarily make or break an outfit. Rather,  it’s all in the styling.

He remarks, “most people think looking great requires you to have expensive clothing when in actual fact, the affordable clothing can be styled as good as the expensive ones.”

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Sticking with his fancy for simplicity, Javan’s current fashion obsession  is a basic white t-shit, paired with slim-fitting jeans, and a pair of sneakers – preferably ones donning the iconic three stripes – to top it all off. Of late, Javan has found that accessories play a key role in tying together the minimalistic look:

“I recently just realized accessories are important for minimalistic outfits. A simple wrist watch with leather straps and a necklace can make an outfit standout, not forgetting a pair of shades for confidence,” he explains.

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When we asked Javan which designer or design house he’d like to be his personal tailor he couldn’t settle on a single name.

“I love a lot of brands when it comes to clothing and given a chance to choose a brand as my personal tailor, I would pick Tom Ford for my formal wear even though I haven’t really gotten into wearing suits [that] often.” 

When he does wear a suit, he opts for darker-colours and slimmer fits but expressed that he’s open to the idea of wearing bolder colours too: “I would wear a burgundy suit because I love to stand out.”

For everyday casual wear, Javan says, “I would definitely pick Relay Jeans, the South African brand. Relay Jeans has a variety of great quality clothing to pick from. Its (sic) fabric is usually soft and comfortable for their tees and [they have] really durable jeans.’

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Javan’s ability to put together a great look can’t go unnoticed. His tactful and fashion-forward approach to dressing is something that any man who is struggling fashion-wise could easily emulate. His look is the embodiment of sleek and stylish simplicity. It’s unfussy without being boring and on-trend without being pretentious. And that’s why we’re loving his style!

 


You can follow Javan’s fashion journey on Instagram: @javan_blog.zm.

 

Style radar: Norealda Cronje

On my style radar this week is Norealda Cronje who stays serving up looks in a range of beautiful bohemian-esque ensembles. I asked this lovely lady a few short questions about what/who inspires her style and love for fashion.

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Norealda expressed that what she enjoys most about fashion is that it enables her to showcase who she is through what she’s wearing and the incredible feeling she gets from putting a good look together. “[Fashion] allows me to express who I am through my personal style,” she said. And this fashionista certainly knows how to make a statement in her fetching 70s-style fashion which features whimsical silhouettes, knee-high boots, fun floppy hats, statement dangle earrings and playful prints. Norealda also switches it up quite regularly between different hairstyles with great ease and always has her hair neatly coiffed, whether she’s styled it in a sleek bob, shoulder-length box braids, soft wavy curls or a little bun.

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When asked about her current fashion obsession Norealda emphatically responded, “prints!!! [I] love any print especially floral and African-inspired prints.” She does indeed have quite the collection of fabulous flowery prints and joyful geometric patterns. And with her incredible accessorizing skills, she seems to have perfected the art of styling as is evident from the range of charming little handbags, shoes and earrings that complement her clothing so well.

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Given a chance, Norealda would love to raid the closet of the very talented and gorgeous Zoë Kravitz because “her effortless chic is incomparable. It never looks like she put any effort into anything that she wears yet she always looks absolutely amazing.” In many ways, Norealda’s style choices ooze the same kind of cool confidence as the quirky, pint-sized fashion dynamo that is Miss Kravitz. And like this Hollywood starlet, Norealda’s look has a lovely ease and elegance to it.

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Norealda epitomizes modern-day, 70s-inspired, country chic in her cute and carefree ensembles. Whether she’s rocking an LBD and boots or a billowy, boho-chic jumpsuit and wedges her look stays polished. On what inspires this look, she remarked, “comfortability (sic) inspires my style, I have to be comfortable with what I wear to feel confident.” It’s no surprise then that her number one rule for keeping it cute with her fashion is: “you always have to be comfortable in the the skin that you are in, regardless. If you’re wearing an expensive/extravagant garment or slacks, you will only exude confidence once you are comfortable.”

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5 ways to become a more socially responsible shopper

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It’s a well-known fact that the fashion industry has had many negative impacts on both human rights and the environment over the years. From huge factories owned by large multinational companies that exploit child labour, to workshops that subject their female labour force to dangerous working conditions, the glamorous façade of fashion masks a much darker side. This dark side creates beauty and wearable art at the expense of human dignity, environmental conservation and fair labour practices. As much as I enjoy fashion I can’t ignore the fact that the manufacture of clothing by some of my favourite brands has most likely resulted in the pollution of a major watercourse, for example. While many of us are aware of this, very few of us actually bother doing something about it. The following are a few practical suggestions on how we can “do our part” so to speak. Here are a few tips on how to become a more socially responsible shopper:

#1 Shop local

Show your support for home-grown talent by browsing your local craft markets, second-hand clothing stores, charity shops and e-boutiques. Not only can you get some unique and interesting pieces but you would also help sustain local businesses and, in some measure, be taking a stand against the fashion giants that exploit cheap labour in the name of style. Personally, I adore craft markets, particularly ones that stock African-inspired clothing and accessories. I’ve acquired a beautiful collection of interesting shoes, handbags and jewellery sourced from markets and small boutiques. These markets can also be a great source of stylish and sustainable fashion made by locals from recycled materials. 

#2 Re-style, re-imagine, re-invent 

Another great way to avoid handing your money over to design houses and commercial manufacturers who exploit human rights and destroy the environment is to skip the mall completely and browse your own wardrobe for those statement pieces that have been sitting there for a while. Or do what I do sometimes and raid somebody else’s closet! Fashion is cyclical. Vintage pieces rarely ever go out of style and you never know when some of your older clothes will be on trend again. Unlike the rich and famous, many of us don’t have the luxury of wearing an outfit only once. Obviously, there are some looks that just can’t be repeated but there are plenty of classic pieces that can be restyled, revamped and re-imagined to create several new looks. Think Tiffany Haddish or Kate Middleton who, despite their money and status, have opted to wear some of their favourite dresses more than once and each time looked effortlessly chic.  I have a number of great pieces I that have remained in excellent condition over the last few years. And luckily for me, my incredibly stylish mother and I are pretty much the same size so we often exchange clothes. So next time you’re stumped as to what to wear to a wedding, dance, cocktail function etc., I would suggest you try fishing out the staple LBDs, vintage handbags, the skirt you borrowed from your sister and the fabulous fashion jewellery you’ve had stashed away and forgotten about. You can get creative, or enlist someone else’s help, and come up with an entirely new look for some of your clothes. 

#3 Make your own clothing and accessories

Again, there are times when being a socially responsible shopper could, ironically, mean not being a shopper at all. Instead, it might entail fashioning your own fashion. Of course, this is easier said than done. You would need to have the right knowledge, skills, tools and materials to make your own clothing and accessories. But there are many resources you can consult to learn how to make your own stuff (thank goodness for YouTube!). Alternatively, you can commission someone to create custom garments and accessories for you. Moreover, the most ideal scenario would be to use materials that are recycled and/or manufactured responsibly. Fortunately for me I’ve got my mum who just so happens to be a fashion designer! She’s always made clothes for me, whether I couldn’t find something at the shops or simply wanted something unique for a special occasion. She also taught me how to make my own clothing which has been an incredibly useful skill to have. Also, since 2011, I’ve been making my own jewellery using an assortment of beads and scraps of fabric and at times, I  like to refurbish and revamp my old earrings and bangles. 

Consumers often find it difficult to gauge which companies deal in conflict-free jewellery, engage in ethical clothing production practices and make a concerted effort to be socially-responsible because it could often just be window dressing. Going the DIY fashion route is a great way to avoid supporting fast fashion brands that exploit human rights. 

#4 Support fashion-forward social and green initiatives 

Another way to be more socially responsible in the way you shop is to support the eco-friendly and social initiatives/projects aimed at reducing the adverse impacts of the fashion industry. You can back the businesses that actually do their part to respect human rights and remedy violations. H&M, for instance, runs a green initiative where customers drop off bags of old clothing, no matter the brand or condition, in exchange for a modest fashion voucher. Since 2017, they’ve collected the equivalent of just over 89 million T-shirts which they’ve also used to make new textiles for some of the clothing sold in-store. This project was started to combat the exorbitant amount of waste that ends up in landfills when clothing is thrown away. In the same vein, you could also give away old clothing that is in a better condition to a local charity or second-hand store. This is an efficient way to clear out long-abandoned items from your wardrobe that are simply gathering dust but can be acquired by someone who’s going to cherish them for ages. Also, by buying from and donating to these shops, you can find some gorgeous vintage pieces, support a charity in your area and avoid spending your money on the designer labels that are built on abusing human rights.

#5 Do your research and spread the word

Lastly, another important step towards becoming a more socially responsible shopper is to do your homework. Research, read and recount to others what you know. A simple Google search of terms like,“fashion and human rights,” “ethical fashion” and “fashion and the environment” can expose you to so much about the true environmental and human rights costs of fast fashion. Moreover, you can find useful info on the social and ethical fashion initiatives you can get involved in. The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, for instance, is a great online resource for the latest developments on human rights and business generally as well as news on the human rights impacts of the fashion industry. There are several video clips, blog posts and articles that unpack the latest in legal developments around these issues. If you’re already operating a large-scale fashion business, have you familiarized yourself with key human rights standards and guidelines like the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Once you get the info you need, it doesn’t hurt to pass it on and get the word out.  Social media has made this much easier these days. And then take the ‘clicktivism’ a step further by writing about these issues in a blog post, article or even an academic research paper and do your part to help local fashion industry grow. 

 

*This post is adapted from a blog series dated from  24 January 2017  to 4 May 2017 on the Urban Afro Concept micro-blog on Instagram *

WIN gift vouchers to be spent in the UAC online shop!

We’re giving one #UAC fan a chance to win this beautiful pair of heart-shaped dangle earrings + a R100 gift voucher!! The runner-up gets a R60 voucher 🙃

Entering is easy…

♡ Follow Urban Afro Concept on Facebook and/or Instagram
♡ LIKE this post on Facebook and/or Instagram
♡ TAG a friend.

That’s it! Winners will be drawn at random from all valid entries. SHARE this post in your IG story or your Facebook page and tag us for extra entries!

Competition closes this Sunday, 17/02/19 at 11:59PM SAST. Open to any person above the age of 16. T’s and C’s apply. This giveaway is in no way endorsed or administered by Instagram or Facebook.

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Become a UAC brand ambassador!

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We’re hiring!

Urban Afro Concept (UAC) is looking to hire two (2) enthusiastic and personable brand ambassadors who have great social media presence and epitomize urban-afro chic! The ambassadors would work remotely from any location and be employed part-time over a period of 6 months.

We’re looking for someone who could generate high-quality content to actively promote our brand within your social networks. We’d provide you with most of the merch you need to carry out the job but would ideally like you to independently and creatively endorse our brand over social media.

We welcome applications from absolutely anyone, guy or girl, who meets our requirements. The ideal UAC brand ambassador carries his or herself well, has excellent communication skills, a great sense of style, a knack for marketing, is passionate about fashion and, of course, knows and loves UAC and our products.

Visit our website for further details of our requirements and information on how to apply.

Deadline for applications is 22 February 2019.

Have a wonderful week!