21 May 2024 ///

Building The Magical World of Sister Party with Yaone Refentse and Love Olerato

There are few things as comparably powerful as sisterhood. It’s a kind of transcendence over any regular friendship or connection – and in a society that tends to pit women against each other, sisterhood is an antidotal requirement for building the kind of effervescent world that we deserve to live in. Enter Sister Party – a magically curated world, conceptualised and created by two real life sisters, Yaone Refentse and Love Olerato, whose bond together fuses the joy of girly things – from fashion and style, to make-up and set design – with education, in the form of a Youtube channel of growing impact and representation. As seen on Channel O’s SuperCulture, Sister Party is a literal to its name; wherever Yaone and Love go, magic happens – in all shades of style, quirkiness and always with a dose of humour. As their Youtube ‘about’ reads, “from sewing DIYs & editorial makeup to vlogs & interviews, come with us as we work our way towards being a part of Rihanna’s creative team (Inshallah)”. As digital platforms increasingly shape global discourse, there’s a crucial demand for South African voices to take up the mantle of expression – this is entirely Sister Party’s manifesto, except in an incredibly cute and cool way. J’adore. 

On the origin of Sister Party, Yaone explains that the channel is a pandemic-baby, “I studied fashion and my sister studied psychology and social development at UCT. The pandemic hit and Love was finishing her final year, and I was working in PR at a corporate company. I felt I wasn’t being creative enough,” and Love shared that, “I’d started doing make-up during the pandemic and Yaone had more time to sew clothes, and we started to think about ways that we could use these creative muscles to grow.”

Sister Party photographed by Thapelo Kekana

Sister Party photographed by Taff Meda

Sister Party photographed by Henry Hansen

Both Yaone and Love wanted the show to chart their entry in the creative industry – and for Sister Party to serve as a portal for any aspiring creatives, too, with Yaone saying that “we brainstormed for a while and we came up with the idea of doing a show – where I could do make-up and Love could do make-up, and we needed a place where all of our creativity could live. Love wanted to do set design, too and we just had this need to explore as much as we could. Youtube made the most sense as a place where the show could live. Our first episode went up on the 2nd April, 2021. We just kept going from there – the ideas snowballed, and we started adding our friends to show.” Yaone had graduated from fashion school, but her understanding of the vastness of the industry and what jobs it could offer, were not taught. I have often written about the fact that fashion education is generally only equipped for careers in design or buying; Yaone muses, “even if you’re an accountant, you can get a job in fashion! There’s space so many kinds of skills and talents”

As Love shares, Sister Party’s inclusive vision is their core philosophy, “I think when a lot of our parents think ‘creative industry’, they think ‘big-bad Joburg or New York’ and that you’re never going to get paid properly or find success. We thought, here are – girlies that want to do this – and surely we can’t be the only ones, let’s create our own community? The basis of the show is about amplifying the voices of queer, POC and Black femme women in the industry. We wanted to see girlies like us being brought together,”  and Yaone, notes that,“our channel is everything that we are passionate about in one place. We just made it our own world, where we can amplify everything that is close to us. Create the content you want to see in the world! We just didn’t see quirky, Black, maximalist girls.” Love adds that “we want to be silly and educational.”

Sister Party is testament to just doing the damn thing – that brave space in between an idea and actually creating, with Love sharing that they started with an iPhone XR and dream – “we didn’t even have a ring light at the beginning! We focused a lot of our early content creation deals into investments for equipment like a soft-box and props. We still shoot mostly with an iPhone 13 and we edit everything on it.” The Sister Party world is often set in Love and Yaone’s apartment, with every corner of their space having been a set or scene on the channel, in one way or another. Yaone explains that, “from the beginning, we knew we would want to create multiple ideas. So having three different series, short-films – it’s all part of a dream to eventually have a television network. We’ve been very focused on not being afraid to start something just because it might not be perfect. It doesn’t have to be HBO or Netflix ready, you just have to have something that can show people who you are.”

Specialising in content creation, Sister Party collaborating with brands and hosting three web series: the main show which is released in seasons, their runway or award commentary and recently, the launch of ‘She vs. Me’ in partnership with The Fix, with Yaone sharing that the secret is actually being precisely themselves, “we’re doing what we can with what we have. In the South African context, we’ve seen that a lot of the work that we’ve done has helped us get into a lot of spaces. I think we’re creating a niche that has a lot of impact and we see that with our community. We started working with Channel O as part of a show that airs on Saturdays – 9am, channel 320 on DSTV – and it’s called ‘Super Culture’. We are one of the ‘super heroes’ and basically just asked to ‘Sister Party’ there.” and Love noting that “the show didn’t want us to be anything but ourselves.”

Yaone and Love have always shared a synchronised taste from Cartoon Network to fashion and pop culture, “although, it’s always through our own individuality, it’s always been aligned,” Yaone reflects. Love adds, “We always have one brain. She’s the left side, I’m the right side, and we just balance each other out and learn how to communicate with each other. Our relationship has grown so much and I feel so fulfilled doing this job, and there’s no one else I’d want to do it with. It’s a family business!”

Sister Party photographed by Henry Hansen

Sister Party photographed by Zwelihle Bukhwele

Their shared references and complementary personalities shape Sister Party’s aesthetic; a world that is dripping in colour, beauty and at the cutting edge of trend and relevance – it’s the kind of girl world that early manifestations of MySpace and Youtube could only ever dream of offering. Looking ahead, Sister Party’s aspirations include launching merchandise that reflects their streetwear aesthetic, an idea that was seeded from their collaboration with Levi’s Haus to create Sister Party branded T-shirts. It’s also critical – as Yaone’s and Love’s personal style is incredibly on point, at all times. Love emphasises their confidence in their niche, “we see our niche, and we have the whole lane and we are twirling in it.” 

Yet, their ultimate dream transcends commercial success; Sister Party, whether on Youtube or as a TV network of its own, is about giving back and building a supportive community, “the dream for us is to give back. We want to do more workshops and to incorporate women-centred initiatives, and learn together with our community as we go. We know the impact of opening up the queer, Black and POC community and we need more voices like ours, doing what they want to do and not feeling limited.” As sisters, their bond elevates their partnership to a level of authenticity and dynamism that is infectious – Sister Party is truly one of the most exciting spaces in South Africa media. 

Subscribe to Sister Party HERE

Catch Sister Party every Saturday at 9am on Channel O, via DSTV

Written by: Holly Beaton

For more news, visit the Connect Everything Collective homepage www.ceconline.co.za

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