Simone Bresi-Ando is the multi-hyphenate entrepreneurial and creative force behind the first-ever Adinkra Ancestral Guidance cards and other products in the Tools for Living Bresi-Ando line. Click here for our full review.
IDR: Thank you for taking some time to speak with us. To start off, could you tell us a little more about yourself? Let’s hear more about
some of those hyphens!
LOL! Hyphens mean there’s more to this story, it indicates limitlesssness, something my life has embodied from an early age. I’m a Sagittarian Black woman from Ghanaian extraction, born and raised in South East London! I got a lot of ‘stuff’ encouraging me not to sit still lol. I have around 20 years deep experience in global Public Relations and events professional – I’ve worked for brands such as Sony Ericsson to the London 2012 Olympics and more recently the
legendary Apollo Theater and TV entertainment company, BET. I used to DJ and promote a night called PUSH, I’m a community builder with a
particular focus on elevating and shifting the consciousness of Black people – that has been a strong theme and motivation in EVERYTHING I do. I’m the founder of I’mPOSSIBLE (I-AM-POSSIBLE.COM) a global empowerment network for women and girls of colour, it’s celebrating its 10 year anniversary this year of creating thought-provoking conversations, safe spaces and debunking myths and stereotypes for this dynamic group by strategically revealing and celebrating role models from this group. Amongst many of the achievements of the
organisation, in 2014 it conducted the biggest (and first) demographics study on British Women of Colour. I’m no stranger to being the first.
I’m also a social commentator, lecturer, public speaker and broadcaster who is a member of the BBC Experts Academy. I speak on issues of popular culture, race, women and intersectionality. My work has been featured in various media outlets such as Elle US, Channel 4, BBC, CNN and the Guardian to name a few.
So yeah, that part… lol.
IDR: You mention the Adinkra Ancestral Guidance cards are a set of 44 Adinkra symbols, which are an ancient, visual, philosophy-based, communication system”, “derived from the Akan people of Ghana and Gyaman people of Côte d’Ivoire.” What drew you to create these – why cards, why Adinkra symbols?
SB-A: I’m deeply committed to decolonising my life in all aspects and one of the first places I started this process was with my
spirituality. I had been divining with angel cards for around ten years and it struck me that the cards I was using, did not reflect me, my heritage or my understanding of the world. In true Sankofa fashion, I reached back to these symbols I had seen growing up and on my visits
to my homeland, Ghana and I started to do further research. I had a loose understanding of the symbols, but my research and talking to
elders opened up this whole old world to me that was so rich and full of meaning and answers, it was beautiful, it was uninterrupted, exquisite African ingenuity and I wanted to promote that to the world. The Adinkra, much like most of African civilisation has fed the world
with ideas, philosophies, knowledge and spirituality predating any other. Much of what we know, sayings we repeat, universal symbols we
recognise – has come directly from the Adinkra.
IDR: We are getting great feedback on these cards, I especially like the storytelling elements that are so familiar to the way my elders speak and relate guidance. What are the pieces of you that you’ve imprinted in your cards and how did you intend for them to be used?
SB-A: I’d like to think that my design flair is imprinted in the cards. It was really important that I restored the reverence for this ancient communication system and wanted people to see the cards and be activated. I wanted our ancestors to come through the cards clearly
and loudly. The minimalist white and black edged with the gold allowed the symbols to lead in message and look and feel. The gold indicates regality.
IDR: What is your favorite thing about your creation?
SB-A: The fact that I birthed this deck to inspire a legacy through healing and harnessing ancestral guidance to create a sustainable,
innovative and robust framework for future generations to combat the harmful systems and ideologies that seek to destroy their humanity.
The feedback I get from customers is phenomenal. Only last week, a customer who works in a day care says she pulls a card a day and get’s the babies to repeat its name and meaning. I burst into tears when I read that – that my cards are being used to engender a strong and ancestral sense of self in children so young. That kind of positive impact is irreversible and it all stemmed from my cards.
IDR: The design and colors kick up the polish of the deck. I noticed most of the cards have a white background, then just a few, like Sankofa and Adinkrahene are black. Can you speak on this design choice?
SB-A: Yes, I thought the Adinkra symbols that were most important should stand out and that’s why I chose them to be Black. I wanted people to recognise that when pulled, that card was significant to their reading.
IDR: Where do you go for inspiration and resources?
SB-A: My dreams, visions and from life itself. I have always been ‘older’ for my years, constantly churning on the problems of today and thinking through sustainable solutions that uplift, reveal and unleash the stories, abilities and joy of the oppressed. I dig deep through my
own trauma and face the parts of myself that are unhealed…it is through this process I’ve found myself most creative. Producing tools
that have helped my healing and in turn, can help many others.
IDR: Tell us about your favorite card.
SB-A: Ooh, that’s a tough one, the cards are so beautiful as a collective, they are my children, you can never have a favourite –
lol! I will say, the ones that I enjoy drawing are Asase Ye Duru (Mother Earth has weight) I interpret this to be about restoring and
revering the feminine divine within and also the Odo Nyera Fie Kwan (Love Does Not Miss Its Way Home) card – I’m an old romantic so this
always makes my heart skip a beat.
IDR: What was/is your favorite part of the creation process?
SB-A: The feeling of freedom of letting my mind roam and create these products that have healing and ancestral reverence at their centre.
Everything I do is driven by gut, so I know I’m on to a winner when I feel that deep pull.
IDR: Besides your own deck, are you a reader? (cards, oracles,etc) If so, what was your Gateway Deck?
SB-A: Yes, I am a reader, mostly of Oracle cards. My gateway deck was Doreen Virtue’s ‘Messages from your Angels’ deck.
IDR: Where do your interests lie outside of tarot?
SB-A: In further discovering the depth and breadth of my spiritual gifts. Everyday, something new is being revealed to me about myself and how I can change things for the better. That feels really good.
IDR: What are some things you’d like us to know about upcoming works?
SB-A: I’m only just getting started! There will definitely be more versions of the Adinkra card decks as well as home decor, spirituality
tools and live experiences. I told you earlier, I only do limitless…just waiting for the world to catch up! 😉