Hand of Gaia is an organic lifestyle brand defined by its spirit. I was immediately drawn to founder Biancha Samuel-Reid’s beautiful illustrations and words, rooted in her heritage and passing down her knowledge, inspiring self love and an intuitive connection to nature. Still in the early days of her business, each product is designed with wellbeing, connection and celebration at its heart, telling the stories of Biancha’s African Caribbean heritage in a thoughtful and contemporary way. Originally studying Womenswear Fashion, Biancha began to start looking for affordable organic clothing after she had her daughter Gaia, namesake and muse of the brand. Unable to find what she was looking for, Biancha was inspired to design her own range, launching the Hand of Gaia.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Comfortable, clean and playful
Can you tell me a little bit about your background? How did you become a print designer?
I grew up in Brockley, south east London with my Grenadian parents and I am the eldest of three children. I love the south east and work and live on this side of the river to this day. My mother said I was a child that loved to draw, especially when my eczema became so severe that I took many trips to the hospital to replace my bandages. Doodling became my happy distraction from the pain and itching. I studied Womenswear Fashion at Ravensbourne College and absolutely fell in love with screen printing. It was there at university that I started to explore and accept my African Caribbean heritage after experiencing challenges with self identity and my personal style. When my daughter was born back in 2014 I slowly returned to drawing again and really felt the need to creatively illustrate our values and stories I wanted to share with her as she grew up. It was in those early years of motherhood that I became more interested in ancient techniques of passing down information and I was always drawn to tactile methods.
“When my daughter was born back in 2014 I slowly returned to drawing again and really felt the need to creatively illustrate our values and stories I wanted to share with her as she grew up.”
Before starting Hand of Gaia you were frustrated by the lack of contemporary African inspired clothing for babies. What was the moment, or was it a series of moments, that made you realise you needed to start Hand of Gaia?
It was definitely a series of moments. When I became pregnant with my daughter Gaia I desperately wanted to reflect her African Caribbean heritage in a way that was contemporary and original. Now and again I would see African inspired clothing available for sale in markets but they were often poor quality with raw finishings or stitching, and just too busy for my taste. After a while, they all started to look the same. At the time, I also found it extremely difficult to find affordable organic clothing with a personality. I also did a lot of research and found out that people of colour are more likely to develop and suffer with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Growing up I knew the struggle of being in clothes that always irritated my eczema and I didn’t want that for my daughter. So, the idea of allowing my baby who also inherited sensitive and eczema prone skin startled me. I knew I could do better.
Named after your daughter, Gaia, who is also your muse, all your products are organic and ethically made. You also talk about Hand of Gaia as a business with soul, with your products inspired by mindfulness, honouring your Ancestral heritage and connecting with Nature. Can you explain why a business with a purpose is so important to you?
The market is now saturated with beautiful organic clothes for kids. Pretty clothes that are quickly covered in grass stains, dirt from muddy walks in the park and paint splatters from messy play but what matters most for me is making clothing and home accessories that creates memories. I want to be able to say that I am helping our customers carve out meaningful time to connect with each other and inspire conversations about family heritage and what informs our worldview. As inhabitants of this Earth we each have desires and aspirations but they should also be coupled with our understanding of our inherent responsibility and duty of care to protect the space in which we grow. I read a quote by Simone Biles that said, “Smiling doesn’t win gold medals.” Whether she meant it this way or not, I understood it to mean that pretty appearances without substance and self determination doesn’t fly high. Building a company that speaks about developing good character and spiritual wellness is a legacy that I can be proud to pass on to the next generations after me.
What do you like most about working for yourself?
This is a hard one because I do quite a few things besides running Hand Of Gaia. Most of the time it feels like a crazy balancing act trying to give 150% to everything and everyone but honestly, I love being able to explore my interests and bring my ideas to life. Working and connecting with people that share my passions is a wonderful bonus. I also love being able to have a say in what my working environment is like. Being able to pick up my laptop and head to the park with a picnic blanket or relax in my house clothes in complete silence and getting things done. Although running a business doesn’t always mean only doing the activities you love, you do get to set the tone in the environment in which you work.
Who or what inspires you?
Books, Nature and always incredibly hardworking people. I am inspired by so many people that there isn’t enough room to list everyone here but definitely first and foremost my Family. My Mother for her bravery, amazing work ethic and showing me that sometimes you just need to take a leap of faith. Secondly, my sister for always the voice of reason when I’m in doubt. And finally, the incredible families I know in my everyday circles, Whatsapp support groups and those that aren’t afraid to dream big.
“Do something that you are proud of and willing to shout about from the rooftops! Know when to take a break instead of quitting when things get tough.”
A huge part of starting and growing a business is having the right mindset. What are some of the things you do to stay motivated?
Running a business is hard and I am learning more each day on how to further develop my resilience skills, something that I am actively teaching my daughter and the children I encourage at my part-time job in a school. I continue to look up to the great examples that surround me and now and again I flick through the pages of an old notebook where I first wrote down why I wanted to start in the first place. I knew starting a business was going to be tough and who could ever imagine that I would stay afloat during a global pandemic but nevertheless I’m learning so much more about what success looks like to me. I stay motivated because I have a wonderful, beautiful family to provide for and want to be a great example of believing.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Do something that you are proud of and willing to shout about from the rooftops! Know when to take a break instead of quitting when things get tough.
What’s next for you?
Well, we are super excited to expand our home accessories collection with the launch of our smooth bamboo silk pillowcases and eye masks in our signature brand colours. We believe in taking care of ourselves and especially African and Caribbean skin and hair so this collection was definitely a natural step forward for us. We are also releasing more in our children’s collection with a range of positive affirmation T-shirts, focused in particular on expanding our size range. Kids grow up fast and our wonderful customers deserve to dress their big kids in clothes that empower and remind them of their natural gifts. Plus we’re getting back to the heart of our mission which is to help our customers connect more with nature and their heritage by supporting local and green initiatives and blogging how we all can get involved and make positive, well informed improvements to where we live.