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Cocktails With — Yhordanka Akwanza

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Yhordanka Akwanza Co-founder, and COO at Eyeland Eyewear

When and how did your love affair with Jamaica begin?

In the moment I met the love of my life in Cuba in 2002. Before that, I only knew about Bob Marley's music. Once I landed in Kingston, back in 2003, it was love at first sight. Jamaica became my home, the land I love.


What's your preferred cocktail?

I love exotic mixes. Right now I am in love with the Lavender Martini from Mystic Thai.


How do you unwind?

I take a mini 'mentalscape' to the fantastic world of Instagram; enjoy an energising home workout at the end of the day; every Sunday I do what I call a green walk meditation at our land in Portland, when I am surrounded by the beauty of nature recharging my brain comes naturally. Then I am ready to take on the week.


Which travel destination is on your summer travel bucket list?

Nigeria. Since my trip to Ghana last year my mission is to visit as many countries in the continent as possible and in particular Nigeria, where the Yorubas who were taken to Cuba are from. I just want to get deeper into my roots.


Heels or flats?

Heels, always.


LBD or jeans?



Which bottle of perfume on your dresser do you use the most and why?

Narciso Rodriguez. I can safely say we Cubans are obsessed with perfume. Oftentimes there was little to nothing to eat, but we had our fragrance. Rodriguez's Cuban heritage has everything to do with the uniqueness and sensuality of his scents.

A night out on the town or watching a romantic movie at home?

A movie at home. I am a cinema nerd. Movies, wardrobes, scripts, the way actors transform from role to role is just fascinating.


Were you able to sit front-row at a Chanel fashion show with five individuals who would they be and why?

The first person I think of is Dexter Pottinger; he is forever in my heart. He revolutionised the fashion world in Jamaica and opened its doors to many.

Novia McDonald-Whyte, because if I ever go to a Chanel fashion show, I am sure she would have something to do with it! She is the Jamaican Anna Wintour.

My mother Latife Barakat; she is my best critic and has the best memory in the world. She will help me remember and apply to my style all we see.

Neko Kelly; he is the funniest person I know and a top stylist.

A government representative that would be able to facilitate designers in Jamaica with better conditions to expand their trade.


Why are statement glasses as important today as the outfit?

Eyeglasses are the first item people see. They hint at your personality and even what you do. Forget about shoes and bags; eyewear is the overlooked accessory that completes you. You can select a colour, shape, size and make it your trademark; Iris Apfel is known for her round black frames and Karl Lagerfeld for sporting black sunglasses.


How does one move from a pair of traditional glasses to statement frames?

Think outside of the box and give yourself time to select and adapt to your new style. You can start by maintaining the shape that best suits your face and picking a statement colour. Bright red, any pastel or yellow are our best sellers. On your next pair, you can go all-out and switch shapes. I also recommend having more than one pair. You can always reuse your frames and change the prescription lenses.


What's the best way to shop for new eyewear?

Always in person. There is a new tendency to purchase eyeglasses online, and there is nothing wrong with that. We even have our e-commerce platform. However, nothing beats being able to feel and try on spectacles, especially if it's your first pair. Leave the online shopping to veterans.


When you step into the store...

Consider your hairstyle. Wear a neutral 'do that exposes your ears.

Keep accessories to the minimum, unless statement pieces are your staple.

Avoid headwear, hats, caps, hair wraps. All these items cover part of your face and interfere with the overall look and fit of eyeglasses.

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