Those who are aware know that modelling is a fast-paced exciting career that can take you to new places. But breaking into the fashion scene can be hard, especially if you’re aiming international and you’re an African girl.

To find out more, we talked to Aina Fadina, a model and entrepreneur who has done in-house work for Oscar De La Renta, Alexander McQueen, Versace and more. Aina graciously shared her advice on breaking into the fashion industry and the tools any aspiring model needs.

Understand the business

Top models from Naomi Campbell to Jourdan Dunn have called out the challenges of being a black model and Aina agrees.

“I think the fashion business is still very challenging for any model. Period. The business has changed so much but for the black model, it is a lot harder. I have seen a slight increase of black girls in editorials and commercials. Brands have finally noticed the power consumers have, however, it is still challenging.”

The challenge is further complicated by the fact that models now compete with celebrities for jobs. Aina’s advice is that if you understand the business and are strategic enough, you can pull through.

Tips to get into the industry

There are no shortcuts to this, you’ll have to work hard while remaining smart. Aina’s top tips are,

  • Do your homework. Study boards of the top agencies and brands to learn about the business behind fashion and network authentically.
  • Get a mentor! In every profession, you need mentorships so find someone willing to guide you through.

naomi_jourdanThe power of social media

If you’re broke, have no connections and still want to be a model, social media is your friend. Learn to use it to your advantage. These days, clients are going directly to talents, so you need to know how to market yourself.

Also, consider getting a part-time job in fashion or entertainment industry, it can help to gain access.

Maintaining relevance as a model

Now once you’ve gotten into the industry and are working your way to being a top model, you still need to be on top of your game. The most important thing for Aina is being nice to your clients and agents.

She says you should always check in with your agents and have great work ethics and values. Make sure you show up before your call time and always offer to stay longer if needed.

Aina shared this saying, “It is nice to be important; however, it is more important to be nice.” Wise words, right?

Good luck to you as you embark on your modelling career!

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