“So tell me how you started CLIQUE, I want to know everything from the conception to the pregnancy to birth.”
“That sounds very graphic, but in light of that metaphor, it was more of a one-night stand to Friends With Benefits to a full relationship.”
One exudes unrestrained, infectious joy to people in his presence– his name is Afolabi Mosuro. The other is the calm in the eye of the storm emitting an ambience of peace that soothes everyone around her– her name is Ambika Kashi Singh. Together they’ve formed a formidable partnership in which they bring new meaning to yin and yang by diminishing each other’s weaknesses and maximizing each other’s strengths. Together they are CLIQUE and they work together in perfect harmony.
“So what exactly is CLIQUE?” I asked Afolabi as I sat outside on a warm summer night. Even over the phone, I could hear the excitement in his voice as he recounted the steps that he and Ambika had taken to get to the shared vision that they now have. And what a journey it was. It was clear that they’d both come a long way from their 2012 college graduation at Baylor University. Ambika, 26, a Public Relations major, always had a love for photography going back to high school and ended up working for the Baylor Lariat newspaper during her time at the university. Despite taking a step back from photography to focus on other things, it was clear from talking to her that she’s always had an interest in creating beautiful things.
Afolabi, 25, graduated with a double major in Finance and MIS but knew he had a love for photography the first time he picked up a camera at a friend’s house in 2009. The device piqued his interest and he spent time during his college years taking graduation pictures and shooting for parties as well. However, he also withdrew from photography after graduation as he felt like he had been “sucked into the corporate world” and work would occupy most of his time over the next few years. Afolabi talked about how he, deep down, he still felt a calling to pursue photography. “People would still call me to ask if I was taking pictures because they needed something for graduation or special occasions” he said. “I had a mentor, Kunbi, who would call me regularly asking if I was still taking pictures and she just kept pushing me to keep going with it”.
Both Ambika and Afolabi discussed their initial apprehensions about taking photography more seriously because of their Indian and Nigerian heritages. Both are more traditional cultures in which parents demand more from their children with respect to the careers they choose in life, be it doctors, lawyers, engineers etc. Those fears were quelled quickly though with immediate support from their families, as well as the knowledge that they could always rely on each other for encouragement. “Because Ambika was there, I always knew that if I wasn’t prepared or didn’t feel comfortable, she would always have my back and her calming influence helped my confidence grow.”
Ambika moved back to Houston in 2015 and they had a few photo shoots together. It wasn’t until one fateful day, however, when a client didn’t show up for an appointment that they decided to take their partnership to a more serious level. “We ended up going for a walk on a trail by Afolabi’s apartment and ended up taking random pictures of animals, scenery, everything and realized how much we enjoyed shooting with each other,” said Ambika. Afolabi came up with the name “Click” which Ambika tweaked to “Clique” and so a brand was born. Their strengths compliment each other well. While Afolabi is an expert with the machinery and great at meeting and connecting with people, Ambika is a creative genius with her design. There’s a perfect balance to their partnership that provides the life-force to CLIQUE while they still continue to learn from each other and help each other grow.
On the 12th of June, they had an event called The Kickback at Drinkery in Midtown, Houston to launch their brand and to explain to people exactly what Clique was. The event started at 2:00pm and the clouds burst open at 2:05pm and it wouldn’t stop pouring till hours later. That didn’t stop over 250 people from turning out to support nor did it stop the partners from being able to raise over $700 through donations as they partied and took pictures of (and with) all their guests that came through the storm. “The one thing that really drives us is people,” said Afolabi. “That all stems from the people we are, cause we just love people. It’s that simple. We care about personalities, aspirations, the things about them that drive them and make them who they are. People never get the chance to see themselves the way others see them, so we want to bring people’s true characters to light so they get the chance to do so.”
“Photography is our medium to help people realize their full potential because we see beauty in them.” – Ambika Kashi Singh.
Ambika went on to add that “CLIQUE is more than just photography to us. It’s about the people who support us; friends and family and everyone else. It’s all about connections with people on a deeper level. We want people to be comfortable taking pictures in a way that brings out their true essence.” They still have a lot to figure out on a business level, but they’re not driven by profit. All the proceeds from the event were donated to the Houston nonprofit, Hope Stone, an organization that “is dedicated to nurturing the creative side of children through the positive, empowering experience of the arts.”
“We just started and things are great, but we know we’ve got a long way to go.” The support they got from the event made them realize that they had a brand that people cared to support. It also showed them that they had a lot of work to do because people are expecting a lot from them. This new collaboration is bringing excitement and fresh talent to the city of Houston and is brimming with potential. Their work can be found at “CLIQUE” on Facebook and @createdbyclique on Instagram.