‘There was a gap on the cultural scene in Sheffield. The whole BAME community had been forgotten about.’

‘The motivation behind Our Mel is that representation matters, stories matter and history matters’. With name inspiration coming from melanin, a pigment found in everyone’s skin. And Yorkshire’s favourite term of endearment ‘our’. Our Mel is a social enterprise inspired by Annalisa’s and Gaby’s own journeys of self-love. Our Mel encourages honest conversations about race through events, workshops and one-on-one conversations. “Some people don’t know how to talk about race, some people shy away from it but Our Mel creates a safe space where people can speak without judgement.” In November 2016, Annalisa and the other half of Our Mel Gaby held the first Melanin Fest, a celebration of Black History Month which hosts events all year round to showcase talent, discover what it means to be Black and British, explore a rich and vibrant culture and start conversations about race and self-love.

About the speaker

Annalisa Toccara is a freelance journalist, marketer and digital strategist specialising in campaigns. Having graduated with honours from The University of Wales, she has a wide range of industry experience (B2B & B2C) in event management, marketing communications and brand identity.

In 2011, she wrote and self-published, her debut book Lipstick: A Woman’s Best Form of Defence and in 2016, she founded a leading social enterprise Our Mel link dedicated to exploring cultural identity, history and talent.

In 2017, she launched Sheffield’s first Black History Month Festival, an annual month-long arts and cultural celebration in October and she has hosted a number of community events. She also became Vice-Chair of the BAMER hub, Sheffield Equality Hub Network.

Annalisa was honoured to receive a Women’s Centenary Award for her services to the community by the Lord Mayor of Sheffield in 2018.

Outside of business, Annalisa is studying an MA International Public and Political Communication scholarship at The University of Sheffield as well as Chartered Marketer status.

She is passionate about equality, inclusion and representation and is fascinated with the link between creative mediums, social cohesion and social justice. When not aspiring to conquer her dreams, she can be found in bed, living her best life, drinking tea and watching Netflix.

This October edition you can find Annalisa at a-ten link the newly re-purposed industrial space at Kelham Island. A chance to drink coffee and hear her story

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