Ayodele Hudlin is an entrepreneur and Toronto based fashion designer who discovered her passion for teaching when she joined Art Starts in 2018. She is a graduate of George Brown College’s Fashion Arts Program and a member of Fashion Zone: Canada’s top start-up mentorship program for entrepreneurs in technology and fashion. Ayodele is also the owner of a children’s fashion brand called Zipette.
As an advocate for the community, Ayodele has affinity for teaching the art of sewing and design to people of all ages. Her philosophy is that art can be integrated into anyone’s life as a means of expressing of oneself and as a form of healing.
Art Starts is celebrating 30 years in October 2022 and as a way to commemorate our past and future, we’re spotlighting our top 30 supporters. From artists to community members, these features will look at their meaningful contributions to our organization and visions for the future.
What was your first experience with Art Starts?
My first experience with Arts Starts was during March Break 2018. It was my first time teaching a sewing workshop to children. Although I was nervous, the excitement and enthusiasm of the children made me feel like I was in the right place. With the sewing machines set up and ready to sew, the children carefully decided which fabric and drawstring they were going to use to make a bag. They quickly sat in front of the sewing machine they wanted and started trying to figure out how to get it working. Their eagerness to learn ignited my joy and passion to teach children for years to come.
Tell me about your favourite memory, program or experience with Art Starts?
Many of the workshops at Art Starts have given me great memories, especially the ones working with children and youth. I always get to see the joy in their faces, appreciate their love, and am grateful for the new ideas and creativity that they are blessed with.
One of my favourite projects with Art Starts was The Colour Wheel Project – The Queen and Her Inner Battles. I was approached by one of the Program Managers to be the Assistant Designer to work with an amazing team of students and artists to help create dresses for an international artist who is well known as The Queen of Colour. The dresses were part of a performance during Nuit Blanche that represented the Queen’s inner emotions. During one of our team meetings, I was asked to be one of the dancers in the performance.
With the collaboration of an amazing team of people, we brought the artist’s brilliant vision to life. It was a reminder that we all have our inner emotions that we battle with daily but when we understand and overcome them we can enjoy happiness.
Tell me about a time that art made a difference in your life?
Since I was a child, art has always been a way for me to cope with trauma and stressors in my life. I have been able to explore my talents through fashion, visual arts and various design projects. Art has kept me lifted and given me opportunities to start my own business, work with multiple non-profit organizations to teach within communities and connect with other artists. Art has and continues to broaden my world!
What do you love most about the programs you’ve taught?
I love teaching a skill and showing people that they are capable of doing anything they focus on. Giving them a skill they can walk away with and excel at, if they put in the time and effort, makes me feel fulfilled. I love giving people a positive experience that helps boost their confidence to venture out on their ideas and continue to explore the arts.
What does community arts mean to you?
Community arts means unity, bringing people together in a place where they can connect and grow. It’s about support, love and listening to what the community needs while providing resources and activities to build a greater bond.
How have you seen Art Starts evolve?
Since I started working with ArtStarts, I have met such a passionate group of people that dedicated their time and energy into reaching out to diverse people of all ages, in many communities, to provide amazing programs that showcase their artistry. They go above and beyond to develop platforms where artists and participants can flourish and express their talents through various styles. With the continuance of our dedication to help others evolve, ArtStarts will carry on to evolve as well.
How do you envision the future of Art Starts?
During these hard times, ArtStarts has modified their structure in order to maintain connection with the community. This shows no matter the situation, they strive to obtain their mission in creating a space for people to imagine, believe, and represent their creative vision for their lives and communities. Through technology, collaboration and outreach, I envision ArtStarts will continue to expand and broaden their reach to marginalized communities all over the world.
If you could have your participants walk away with one thing, what would it be?
By supporting participants to bring their ideas to life, I aim to assist them to explore their ambitions and push their imagination. I feel this allows room for a boost in confidence and helps to envision their potential in the future.
You can check out Ayodele’s designs on Instagram @zipettedresses.