As a part of our Journal, Friends of Coconut Residence is our way of catching up, seeking inspiration, and sparking conversations with talented individuals. Many of the best things that life has to offer have been created through diverse connections, new friendships, and the exchanging of ideas.
Our aim is to shed some light on the talents working in various industries who are producing beautiful work and driving their projects forward. Each month we invite friends of the brand to share more about themselves.
In the run-up to Valentine's Day, we caught up with creative couple Aaron Christian (AC) and Iman Alem (IA). Renowned Filmmaker, Aaron, and multi-talented stylist and co-founder of Maison Commune, Iman, kindly modelled our staple 'Zero Waste Crewneck' and 'Sanskrit Sweatshirt' for us and we caught up with them both about creativity in lockdown, their creature comforts, and what they have been working on recently.
Read our catch up below:
IA: Stylist / co-founder of Maison Commune
Our Residence is:
A beautiful flat based in Bow, East London.
At the moment I am working on
AC: Wow for me a lot of things:
- A big food doc series that is being pitched out to studios around immigrant food culture
- A print book for The Asian Man project
- What Is This Behaviour? Podcast (workshops and products being worked on)
- Rebranding my content studio.
IA: I recently launched a sustainable e-shop with my friend Nike Forrest called Maison Commune which takes most of my time and I'm also a freelance stylist .
Has lockdown and the current climate taught you anything new about yourselves?
AC: How lucky we are to still be able to create and connect even during this time. That we can cope with the bare minimum.
IA: I agree, how little we need and how much can be done with a laptop and the internet!
What have been your best and worst habits in lockdown?
Best: Consistent meditation practise
Worst: Lack of committed exercise routine.
Best: Regular exercise
Worst: Days of procrastination
My creature comfort recently is…
Iman: a 16 steps skincare routine!
Aaron: I normally only ever read non fiction. Recently, I decided to indulging in listening to some fictional audio books which has really helped me switch off and relax. I’m currently geeking out listening to Ready Player Two.
You both seem to have achieved new and exciting projects despite the obvious challenges. Can you explain a bit about them and how these projects came about?
AC: The podcast (WhatIsThisBehaviour?) was kind of serendipitous. I was thinking about doing a pod for about a year, but couldn't land on an angle that I felt would actually cut through the noise and provide value. At the same time one of my goals was to try and build up skills I lacked (presenting, hosting etc.) At the time I knew the south asian community was starting to really be a focus in media and culture. I wanted to be able to own and help shape the narrative of my people rather it being shaped by others. I spoke to Reuben Christian (my brother - comedian, speaker, and facilitator) who had similar feelings and he spoke to Almass Badat (Director, DJ, Podcaster) who also felt the same. So we decide to do a podcast that was joint and it was the best decision we could have made, as it has so much more power and depth now because there are three POVS and skill sets sharing the load.
You have forged successful careers across multiple disciplines as entrepreneurs and creatives. What advice would you give to those pursuing a similar path?
AC: Spend the extra time figuring out why you want to do certain things.
A set of questions I always ask is WHY ME? WHY THIS? WHY NOW?.
When you have ideas and you're a creative it can be overwhelming to start and figuring out which medium you want to use to get the idea out there. Those questions are always a good starting point. It means you can always be flexible, when you know why you're doing something the ‘how’ doesn't matter as much and can always change.
IA: Just do it, don't overthink, start small, follow your own rules and find a way to make it work for yourself.
One of the most positive things to come out of this pandemic is the time we have to juggle life, work and for some side hustles or passion projects. Good luck!
Iman, you have recently co-founded Maison Commune, an eco-conscious lifestyle brand specialising in unique design objects. Tell us more about the brand, its journey and some of the highlights so far:
Honestly, it's been the most fulfilling thing I've ever done. We meet amazing people, doing amazing things, we get to create beautiful products that are environmentally friendly and support small businesses most of them women and/or BIPOC owned. The highlight so far is the community we've been building with the people we work with, the people we get to interview and of course our amazing customers.
Our top selling brand is a sustainable candle brand called Luce London, handmade in small batches in London from the most amazing eco ingredients. They're developed to align with your star sign and certain chakras. For Valentine's we recommend 'Lucky Me' which aligns with your root chakras and is basically the sexy candle!
Aaron, you spoke at the 2020 BoF Voices series on the new direction of fashion, changes needed in the industry and diversity and inclusion. Can you tell us a little more about your projects such as The Asian Man and your short film, The Internship, which champion these messages and why it is personal to you?
The Asian Man is something that I’ve been working on for years. It just recently started to take off due to the industry really starting to wake up and how social media as enabled us all to connect better. It was born out of my frustration at the lack of south asian models on the catwalks of fashion weeks, when I used to attend the global shows. I then simply wanted to create a space where I highlighted and championed stylish south asian men. It was as simple as that. It's now really evolving into a strong community.
The Internship was a film that was based on a combination of my personal experience and experiences of close friends within the fashion industry. I used to see highly talented friends not able to move forward in the fashion industry due to their social economic status. Not being able to afford to work for low paid or unpaid internships. Which ultimately led to a narrow selection of people getting into those key positions due to being from wealthier backgrounds. I also saw a lot of nepotism. Being frustrated that although talent was universal, opportunity wasn't. I felt it was important to create a film that highlight this. Someone who was on the side of creativity and talent. As ultimately that's whats going to push the industry forward and when talent isn't getting through due to those circumstances its frustrating.
And finally do you have any personal tips or advice on keeping focused and positive for 2021?
AC: Take each day as it comes. Having witnessed many friends and family pass due to the virus, I think being here another day is a gift. Make consistent but small changes. Those are the best ones. Don't burn yourself out.
IA: Honestly, it's hard! I try to stay away from anything negative, the news, I limit my social media intake and try to do things that make me feel better like exercising, going for walks, having a strict sleep routine and an indulgent skincare routine! And if you just want to be in bed and do nothing allow yourself to do that too.