Kinky hair, coarse hair tied up in a bun, and natural hair that can be styled into endless patterns to rock those Ankara outfits are not just great, they look fabulous.
All over the world black women are reclaiming their roots and redefining what it means to be beautiful.
This generation of young black women is demanding a wider variety standard of beauty. We are letting the world know – “we get to be our own beauty standard, not someone else.”
We can all remember a time in our lives where our hair had to be dragged and stretched after our hair strands have been deconstructed by relaxers.
Now, organic hair is the standard, and this shows that we can decide what’s cool and what’s not.
The millennial generation is a unique one, we are not just absent-mindedly taking in everything given to us by the media.
We want to make an impact, and we are doing it in many ways, one of those ways is switching over to a more organic lifestyle, and here’s how we do it:
The Water Challenge – The Life Challenge
In an effort to drink more water, we bring to you the water challenge. Here’s what we do. For a chosen amount of days, (usually a month) we pledge to take just water or to take a stipulated amount each day.
We ditch our favorite drinks, soda, release ourselves from the addiction of carbonated drinks and we like, okay, for this time, for just this stipulated amount of time we would take just water.
It’s usually great to do pair up with a boss lady like you, what gets to remind you daily, have you drank your glass of water.
Before you go buying tons of products and organics, flush out toxins in your system with water and watch that skin glow and pop.
What’s fashion if we destroy the earth in the process?
Can clothes be fashionable and sustainable? Can clothes save the world, or change the way we do things?
Is it possible that a piece of item we wear can be made from materials that are renewable and do not take from our natural resources but give back?
There’s a word for that, it’s called Eco-fashion. According to Stepin.org, Eco-fashion is about making clothes that take into account the environment, the health of consumers and the working conditions of people in the fashion industry.
Young people are choosing to build businesses that promote ethical fashion and balances the impact of an industry that does not harm the earth.
No plastics please, we’d rather save the earth
More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year. How this is our problem?
Plastics take thousands of years to decay, as these plastics particle break down, they are able to get into fishes and wildlife we eventually eat. Direct toxicity from plastics comes from lead, cadmium, and mercury which are overly dangerous to our health.
A friend of mine arrived in a Tanzanian Airport and was shocked that she couldn’t get through with her plastic cups, all over the world, the government is tightening the entry of plastics in its borders and businesses are doing the same.
Every action no matter how small can save us from the plastic tragedy. Here are a few habits that are fun and chic…
We have our fun straw bendable straws
We bring our bags from home when shopping, yes we are that cool
Organic wraps instead of plastic bags, cool.
Choose natural, one product at a time
From natural hair care products to natural beauty products, we switching up those alternatives.
The African beauty care industry is a billion-dollar industry and black women are beginning to take a fair slice of that pie.
Beauty products made by black women for black women are emerging into the markets, they are not just a great way to support a MotherLand mogul in your community, they are better alternatives to the paraben filled products in the market.
A beauty blogger, Sike Gbana reviews great products for skin and hair. You’d find a list of beauty entrepreneurs on our blog, which we have gone through the pains of listing out for you.
Know what materials your products are made of
And if it came from illegal poaching or through the effort of child labor, we don’t want any of that, we have our ears and eyes open and on the lookout for businesses who not only have great products but possess a good ethical standard to back it up.
If you’re on the other side, are you thinking of making a switch?
How can we support businesses and entrepreneurs who are daring to create a healthy trend? What ways are you switching your glow up? Is there a business in your community you know that is all about living an organic lifestyle? We want to hear from you.
At the concluded MET Gala, head swooped and ears buzzed, we saw fashion statement from the future, from Queen mother Serena Williams’ magnificent dress, to Tracy Ellis Ross’ – Mirror in the wall black emblem.
We are trying to not mention Cardi’s overflowing regalia and Lupita Nyong’o statement headgear. Nonetheless, Zendaya was the star of the ball or MET rather.
She came dressed in an outfit that lit up from a wave of a magic wand. With her very own fairy Godmother or father.
Wouldn’t it be great if we all had fairy godmothers that would wave a wand at our swarthy wardrobes and Gbam, we are all glammed up.
While we are still waiting for a fairy godmother/Wakanda father, we put together a number of ideas and ways you can switch up.
Let’s take a more practical approach to our wardrobe. These makeover and outfit ideas are for that goal-getter who knows she can slay and deliver at the same time and is doing just that, while she might be able to stretch her budget.
This boss lady wants to be in the know of fashion trend, she wants to be creative and classic, turning both eyes and heads at the meeting, for her we’ve set up an array of methods to switch that glam up
We don’t leave the entrepreneur out, she’s making boss moves, she’s running from an event venue to meeting with her clients.
She wants to make sure everything works well for her small business, and she wants to look like she means business to clients. She can’t bust a thousand box on clothes.
What ways can she creatively switch up the narrative off her wardrobe from “please-help-this-newbie-entrepreneur” to “here’s -why-you-should-invest-in-my-business entrepreneur”.
The Statement Stiletto
A stiletto can transform your look from plain to classic. First, it elevates your status, gives you more moral to look people in the eye, and a statement stiletto draws eyes from your heels all the way up to your face.
A statement stiletto can be stylish while remaining formal. They usually stand out in just one color. A bright red is an all-time favorite, a neon green will go too.
Whatever you choose, make sure to pair them off with soft brown colors and power glasses. Make a statement without saying a word
The Formal Ankara
What better way to stand out than in an all in one Ankara print pants or skirts. While you rep the Wakanda nation. you bring with you that extra sauce and excitement that is otherwise drab in a suit and tie setting.
Note: Ankara prints can get busy so it’s best to pair them off with single color, mainly white or black and minimal accessories.
The Stylish Joggers
Whoever told you pants can’t be stylish lied to you. There are days when a Motherland Mogul has to be on her feet, moving around to keep things in check, trying to meet up and staying all late to make orders move in the next morning.
This is certainly no time to do a catwalk. When you really need that flexibility jump in from one car to another, a jogger’s gat you baby girl.
It’s light, free and flexible, allowing you to be comfortable all day long. Paired with a jacket you can quickly make the switch from entrepreneur to the boss lady
The Classic Pants
Pastel pants come in all shapes and colors. Single-colored pastel pants bearing softer shades like woody brown or pastel pink are great together.
Layering a turtle neck tee shirt or a tank top underneath the statement jackets makes your outfit pop.
It’s easy, soft and comfortable and you can always switch from feeling classic in a jacket to party style in a tee-shirt styled into a crop top to fit at a party.
However you choose to wear it, this outfit works for different occasions.
The Multipurpose Jacket
A bright colored jacket Is a must for any wardrobe. There’s barely anything you can’t rock with it. A bright colored jacket can be worn on a little black dress, a dinner gown, or even with a corporate dress.
You can pair it up with a tee-shirt and you make a unique fashion statement. And if you dare, mix it up with sneakers or all stars.
Now you have it, survey your wardrobe to find combinations that work.
Here are 3 tips to help you recreate a new wardrobe in a week.
Ransack your wardrobe, you would probably find a statement piece you didn’t know what to do with or a jacket you forgot from a long time ago, now is the time to bring out the slayer in you.
Pair each outfit by color and accessories them.
Next, you’d want to take photos of each outfit you think cuts the mark, scan through your Mirror, Mirror on the wall, and select the dopest of them all.
Here are a few online thrift stores you can get clothing from, all of which can be found in Mall of Africa.
Pretty Little things
Budget shopping Fashionaova
All outfits and dresses in this article can be found at StyleAmira’s fashion and lifestyle page. You can also find them on the gram.
In 2016 I moved back to my home country, Sierra Leone. Yes, sis— that tiny country on the coast of West Africa, no one knows much about.
Sierra Leone has a population of approximately 7 million people, we have government institutions, a growing and healthy private sector dominated by the mining, agriculture, hospitality, and the FMCG industry— as well as a large NGO presence.
With a range of middle-management and administrative job options so close, yet so far out of the reach of Sierra Leoneans.
None-the-less I was determined to learn the political, economic and social landscape of the country, work for NGO’s whose mission statements I believe in, and start my own business!
The only problem was that, at my big age of 24, I had no young professional wear!
I was coming out of a two-year job in a tech start-up where we wore jeans to work every day.
I quickly learned that to go on job interviews, or meetings with potential investors and clients for my own start-up, I needed affordable yet good quality business casual items in my closet.
Below I will share with you my the top 10 items that saved my interview and client meetings game for two years of freelance consulting and building a start-up.
Illustrating each item is the fabulous and unparalleled stylings byFatouma Haidara, also known on the gram as @the_fashionartist_.
1. The high-waisted paper bag trouser
A good quality high-wasted trouser in black or dark/navy blue goes with almost every professional shirt and even casual shirts.
This piece changes any outfit from the casual to – “I’m fresh out of an important meeting” look.
The tip here is that it cannot be a tight fit or fitted trouser. The slightly loose wear allows you to run around flexible all day from meeting to meeting as most bosses do.
2. The cotton poplin shirt
Every woman needs this in every color! Start with the basic office blue and work your way from grey to every color under the sun!
Even a basic office blue with different patterns like stripes and polka dots works. You can collect these over time. But if you find a store where they’re on sale, stock up!
3. The flounced/satin/silk blouse
There are a million and one materials, cuts, colors, and designs to buy this in.
Essentially, what’s great here is that its a stylish yet comfortable shirt that can be worn with many different kinds of bottoms while maintaining a professional/work-based air about your outfit.
4. The black ballet shoe
Practical, comfortable and transferable! This is best for work when fully covered (no peep toes— most offices and interview spaces have either a written or non-explicit policy against this anyway).
It is best to get this shoe in good quality leather (or good enough quality) so that it lasts long.
I had an all-black one from Aldo with an alligator texture and a small gold zipper in the back, and it lasted me 3 years of daily wear!
5. Closed-toe low-heeled pumps
Neutral colors like black, beige and nude are a good place to start. This has the same appeal as the black ballet shoe, however, I recommend having at least one or two of these because some offices require them for meetings.
I find pumps most essential for networking events and conferences, they add an extra layer to my self-esteem for some reason.
6. The non-fitted high-waisted knee-length (or below) pencil skirt
Yes oh, this one is mad specific because I find that if just one part of it is off, it doesn’t hold the professional gaze that I’m going for.
Pairing this with any kind of top or a classic round neck jewelry piece is a quick and easy young professional look for your more relaxed days.
7. The blazer
You may not work at a bank or in a law firm— but trust me, a blazer always comes in handy one day or another!
8. The Longchamps Pliage
This one is a bit of a splurge and a luxury I know! But if you have something similar then go for it!
What you truly need here is a black medium to a large sized handbag that is light even before you fill it with your planner, your lunch and your laptop!
Carrying bags all day can be heavy, you want something easy on the shoulders. The pliage is also waterproof for those Harmattan/rainy season days.
But if you don’t have access to one, then any good leather bag should do. Black is a practical color because it goes with every outfit.
9. The Pleated Skirt
I could go on and on, but the skirt speaks for itself. This is my favorite piece for a work presentation, networking events and lazy days when I don’t want to be confined by more fitted clothing.
It’s such an elegant piece, without even trying.
10. Your business card
You know how they say “you’re never fully dressed without a smile”? Well for a young professional— you’re never fully dressed without your card!
Not only does it allow potential employers to easily contact you but it’s a great avenue to use to ask people for their own business card in exchange for yours— so that you can send that follow up email and call later!
In all aspects, Haii Designs, blends the traditional and modern birthing innovative and “never seen before” designs. Along with her clean, modern, and lively spatial designs, I have long been drawn to Haidara’s grown and #BossLady fashions! If you’re looking to purchase your next office ruling inspiration piece and jewellery after this article, explore tribia-by-hd.afrikea.comor @tribia.by.hd on Instagram.
It is no longer news that some people are usually attracted to others based on how well they appeal to their minds.
The attraction can be physical, emotional, sapiosexual or sexual in nature.
But I will like to talk to you about how well you can kit up physically and still attract the right partner.
First, let me start by saying that there is no perfect person out there for you. But there are people who fit your ideal description of what you want in a man.
MR Right is simply a high-value man who knows what he wants, takes responsibility for his life and is on a journey to building great relationships too.
A lot of ladies are attracted to well-fitted men, with broad shoulders, and great fashion sense. If you want this type of man, it is not a bad idea, but you should understand that such men would want a classy attractive woman too.
That means you should look as classy as he would look too. If you are not conscious about how you look, you may miss out on important opportunities in other areas of your life.
Trust me, some people do not have the patience to know your content, they are merely moved by sight except they have an opportunity of being around you to see what else you can offer. So packaging matters a lot.
First impression is good, but it doesn’t have to be the final say but what about making sure your first impression is likable?
Let me share with you 5 areas to pay attention to look more attractive and classy to Mr. Right.
1. KNOW YOUR BODY TYPE
Should I confess to you? I just found out about my body type last year in 2018.
While growing up, someone once told me that I had a male figure and I felt bad about it. And then later, I began to compare my body with others. I wondered why I had broad shoulders and a small waist.
Amber Williams is the founder of Punkyflair, a brand story shop that serves beauty, fashion, and lifestyle startups. Building iconic statement-making brands is her jam, and she is committed to helping businesses grow authentically through a story.
Through Punkyflair, Amber has positioned new businesses in the marketplace, molded magnetic personalities, crafted money-making narratives, and named global product collections for leading brands like Camille Rose, Heat Free Hair, Shea Radiance, and Marjani.
Amber Williams connects young brands to the customers they want to reach through a story. She believes that story is the most critical business asset for one simple reason: it can’t be duplicated.
It is the key to building a brand that will withstand the test of time and last forever.
In this interview, she discusses how you can best understand your audience, communicate your vision, and sell with a story.
Tell us how and why you started Punkyflair
My early career was spent in corporate America where I used my formal training in psychology and integrated marketing to create and launch brand strategies for companies like Armani Exchange, Volkswagen, The United States Olympic Committee, and Feeding America.
I was working within a world of limitless resources and possibilities in marketing. I had the freedom to be creative, spend however much was needed, and most importantly – test the water.
After several years of implementing creative brand marketing campaigns, I realized that my signature approach to every strategy I created was rooted in a story.
Every idea, every narrative, and every message I built told a story. Inadvertently, I used my knack for writing and understanding of human behavior to put words together that would sell clothing, jewelry, cars, and even promote funds for world-renowned athletes.
I was a storyteller. At 29, I decided that I would package up my approach and all of my corporate learnings into a framework that would help startups launch and grow their businesses.
I created Punkyflair to empower entrepreneurs with the tools, training and thinking necessary to understand their audience, communicate their vision, and sell with the story.
Today, I have the good fortune of doing so for leading woman-owned brands like Camille Rose, Heat Free Hair, Marjani, BLK+GRN, and Shea Radiance.
What is brand storytelling and where does it fit in marketing strategy?
Simply put, brand storytelling is a method for connection. If you consider your favorite storybook or movie, there is most likely a character in it that resonates most with you.
Maybe it’s because you see yourself in them. Perhaps it’s because that character represents who you want to be. All great stories make you look at yourself and consider how you connect to the tale being told. Brand storytelling is no different.
A great brand story lets your customers know why you exist and how you fit into their lives. When done well, your brand provides the perfect reflection for who they already are but better. Brand storytelling is the most effective, non-salesly way to build meaningful and profitable relationships with the customers you want to reach.
How can businesses effectively explore the core elements that make up their customer profile?
All businesses should view their customers as the star characters in their brand story. Everything that your brand does–from operations to product innovation and marketing–should be built around your customer. It always amazes me how many entrepreneurs are willing to skip this essential first step.
A strong customer profile is made up of three key elements: perspective, preference, and personality. Understanding your customer’s perspective is all about figuring out where your customer is coming from, the unique challenges they face, and what they really want from your brand.
The next step is to discover what your customer prefers by digging deep to understand purchase motivators and where your brand solution fits into their lives. Finally, you’ll want to explore your customer’s personality traits.
Doing so will help you tailor your messaging in a way that gets the people you want to reach to listen and buy from you.
As they discover their customers, how do businesses determine the best approach in talking to their audience?
Now that you know more about your customers, you’ll want to speak to them in a language that they understand. The best approach is first to visualize precisely who this person is. Bringing the person you want to reach to life humanizes your communication.
It brings back the reality that you, as the brand, are talking to a real person. When working to craft your narrative, ask yourself these four questions:
Why does my brand exist?
What problem do we solve for our customers?
What values or beliefs do we stand on as a business?
How do our products/services make our customers’ lives better?
The answers to these questions make up your core brand narrative, letting your customers know exactly why they should trust and buy from you. Plaster them everywhere (tactfully of course)!
As businesses increasingly incorporate storytelling in marketing strategy, how can “Motherland Moguls” craft a brand story that yields customer action?
The marketplace is getting extremely crowded! It’s never been harder to cut through the clutter than it is now. Customers are continuously bombarded with marketing messages and brands are spending a significant amount of money just to stay visible.
In this landscape, the challenge lies in not only being seen, but in making money also. The best way that Motherland Moguls can yield a favorable action from their target customers is to keep a pulse on their customers’ wants and needs.
Don’t get too caught up in the competition and what they’re doing. Always remember that people are buying from your brand for a reason. Serve them and then explore what else you can create to serve them again. Be authentic and tell the story only you can sell.
What’s your go-to advice to a business owner trying to instill more brand storytelling?
My go-to advice is simple: take yourself out of it. Simple, right? The #1 thing you must do to grow your brand and instill more storytelling is to get yourself out of it.
Sure, you are the founder and mastermind behind the business. It was your sweat equity and creativity that launched the brand. You identified a problem and created a solution. It’s your baby. I get it.
However, if you want your baby to grow, you have to move out the way and tell a story in your marketing that centers around the customer, not yourself. Customers are drawn to brands that they can see themselves.
Make your story a two-way dialogue, not a diatribe about your own journey. Spend some time understanding what matters to your people: what values they hold, what additional problems they face, what viewpoints they have on the world and your industry. Create stories from the deeper emotional layers that (above all else) truly connect customers to brands.
What product and service offering do you have in the works to help rising entrepreneurs with brand storytelling?
I recently released Customer Kamikaze. my 3-part customer discovery framework. It’s the exact same framework I’ve used to help my startup clients scale their businesses (some into the millions) by understanding their customers and building their brand stories around them.
People love it because it’s self-paced and fun! The exercises are intuitive, simple and impactful. Also, the result, once the framework is applied, is far higher than the minimal cost of the product.
I wanted to create something super affordable, even for early-stage entrepreneurs, but something that would have a tremendous impact and set the tone for a brand story that sells.
What are you most excited about at the moment, and what are you working on next?
I’m most excited about my next chapter! I want to move in a direction that allows me to help multiple entrepreneurs at once. This fall, I’ll be speaking more and even playing around with group coaching and live workshops.
Brand story is a concept that I absolutely love teaching and one that I love to see entrepreneurs benefit.
Amber Williams is offering a free audio training on building lasting brands. Contact her here.
Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.
Philomena Kwao is aplus-sized British-Ghanaian model who has many philanthropic interests.
Her meteoric rise came from working on multiple major campaigns for Torrid, MAC Cosmetics, Lane Bryant, Evans UK, Nordstrom and she has been highlighted on Huff Post UK, Guest blogger Metro UK, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Essence Magazine, among others.
This British-Ghanaian beauty is the perfect canvas and model for the fashion industry! Her regal unapologetic natural beauty is one to behold.
Philomena is also the Global Ambassador for Women For Women International Charity. She preaches the need for open dialogue and real inclusivity in the movement towards equal rights for women.
SLA interviewed Philomena during her recent visit to Nigeria to celebrate with the women who are graduating this year’s program and have achieved access to life-changing skills to move from crisis and poverty to stability and economic self-sufficiency.
You bagged a degree in Economics, and a Masters’ degree in International Health Management, how did you make the career switch to fashion and style?
My original career choice was very different and my journey into modeling began by chance as I had planned out a career in health management and policy after completing my masters degree.
A friend of mine entered my details online into a modeling competition in which Evans and Cosmopolitan in conjunction with Models1 were looking for a new plus-size model to front their shape campaign and to also become the Face of Style 369.
I eventually won the competition and hence my career began.
I was going to take a career break anyway after my masters as I had continued through school and work with no break.
So when the opportunity came for me to move to NYC a new adventure made perfect sense. I could make money and travel which were two of the things I wanted to do most at the time. It was a huge blessing.
I originally set out to try modeling out for a year. One year turned into seven and here I am today. It’s been an incredible journey so far. I am now signed to JAG Models and I am living and working in NYC.
Tell us about how you got your modeling debut
When I first got to NYC I didn’t work at all. It was hard! My look was new. I was everything you weren’t supposed to be rolled into one. Dark skin, plus and a shaved head. What would brands do with me?
It took a while for me to find my place in the industry but when a few brands like Lane Bryant, Landsend and Torrid took the plunge to try something new and widen the definition of beautiful my career really took off.
As an African plus-sized model, what was your biggest challenge breaking into the fashion industry, and how did you overcome them?
For so long, in the West, the standard of African Beauty was (and arguably is) very very narrow.
Extremely tall, extremely thin and extremely dark. Most of the African models hailed from East Africa and the west fetishized their beauty as exotic and a true representation of The African woman. There are many problems with this.
Africa is a vast continent with hundreds of thousands of ethnicities each with their own beauty. To homogenize the African woman is limiting and dangerous.
My beauty is common in Africa but in the West its what defines me and sets me apart. When I first started I was different from anything that existed in mainstream fashion. I had a shaved head, my features are more commercial and I am a plus sized woman. It was very hard for people to get their head around it.
Typically plus-size models are white and hourglass, and when they are black they are of a fair complexion with an acceptable hair texture. If they were slightly darker they had a long weave. The typical American girl next door look.
African models were typically slim tall and dark. And yet here I was a mixture of everything; too ‘exotic’ for commercial modeling, too big for mainstream high fashion modeling.
My biggest challenge was getting people to understand that black beauty exists in an infinite number of forms. This wasn’t easy, a big push for my career was definitely when Lupita was recognized as a world-class beauty because then I became the plus size Lupita.
What prompted you to get involved in the movement towards equal rights for women around the world?
As a woman, it’s hard to exist and live in this world without being affected by what’s happening to women around you. I was born in London, in the UK to a mother who immigrated from Ghana.
I will never forget my first visit back home to Ghana. The disparity between my cousins and I simply because of where we were born was staggering. Even at such a young age it just felt so unfair and I was determined to make a change in any way possible.
How did you become a Global Ambassador for Women For Women International Charity?
Modeling is fun. It’s been an incredible blessing in my life, and I’m so grateful for every opportunity that I’ve been given but it isn’t enough. It isn’t enough for me.
I’m still very much interested in my first love and passion, the advancement of women around the world. Whether through health, economic empowerment or social empowerment, women around the world need advancement.
For too long we have been globally oppressed. The time for change is now and everyone can create change, firstly within themselves and then in their wider community. Social media has become such a powerful tool for this.
One of the many blessings that my modeling career has given me is a platform and when I heard about the work women for women were doing I felt compelled to support.
Women for women empower the women they work with by teaching them how to make a change within themselves and in their community
The year-long social and economic empowerment program provides marginalized women with the opportunity, often for the first time in their lives, to come together in classes of 25 women to build support networks, to share experiences, to learn critical skills, and to access new resources.
Women for Women International supports the most marginalized women in countries affected by conflict and war. Their programs enable them to earn and save money, improve health and well-being, influence decisions in their home and community and connect to networks for support.
By utilizing skills, knowledge, and resources, women are able to create sustainable change for themselves, their family, and community. This is something I truly believe in.
From your experience, what does it take to build a career in the fashion and entertainment industry?
Patience and resilience. Patience and resilience. I’ve said it Twice because I can’t stress how important these two things are.
I have an academic background and in that setting, one plus one plus equals two. The same can’t be said for the fashion and entertainment industry. A huge amount of luck is involved. Right time, right place. This can often leave hopefuls feeling very frustrated.
I often feel frustrated myself. But it’s something that has become easier over time. The best advice is to stay ready, so when your opportunity comes you’re ready to take it. Unfortunately, you just don’t know when opportunity will come knocking. And that’s where patience comes in.
Most things are entirely out of your control and you can’t always judge how people will receive you. That’s the resilience, for every yes there will be a thousand nos. You just have to keep going.
What four skills have you found yourself using/learning frequently?
Leading on from the earlier question my four frequently used skills are:
What’s your ONE advice for curvy girls who would like to model but do not have the confidence?
I’ll start with confidence, we all have down days, and honestly that ok. But it’s not ok to not be your own best friend and cheerleader. Whenever anyone says their feeling down about their looks I always remind them of the beauty in individuality.
There is no one on the planet that looks like you or has your unique features so you just celebrate them and not put it down. I’m a big advocate of the extraordinary and I believe everyone is inspiring because we are all different.
Confidence comes from understanding that you only have this one body and one life so make the most of it! You can’t compare yourself to anyone! Not anyone in fashion or on TV because most of what you see isn’t real.
And to pursue modeling, be yourself!
Always stay true to you no matter how hard it gets! And don’t let criticism get to you because what works for one may not work for another. Be lucky to find a great Agent that believes in you. I was very lucky due to the competition I entered.
All reputable Agencies do have open calls where you can have an informal chat about modeling and the possibility of becoming one.
Also, don’t take things personally. It all depends what the Agency is looking for and what suits all markets around the globe. Edgy editorial clients may get you instantly but the commercial ones may take longer to get that look if at all.
This industry is super competitive and you need a thick skin and determination and professionalism to make it.
For representation I would stick to Agencies that have great reputations, do your research, take a look who else is represented by them, go and meet them, it is all about feeling comfortable and trusting your agent. You will develop a very close relationship, and trust and communication are key.
What’s your morning ritual?
I’m trying to find one. Morning rituals are so important they center your day and help organize your thoughts.
I used to have one which included completing my five-minute journal, drinking water and meditating. However, the more I travel the harder it gets.
For all our melanin Motherland Moguls, how do you keep your skin glowing?
I owe a huge part of my skin to genetics. You think my skin is glowing? You should see the rest of my family. Genetics plays such a massive part in the health of your skin but there are definitely things that can help.
Inside out is my mantra. Eat well, make sure you eat your greens and veggies and try and eat as wholesomely as possible. Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water, hydrated skin is a good skin. And lastly, find what works for you and stick to it.
For me, I love products from the body shop as well as my natural staples of Shea butter, black soap, and baobab oil. Keep your eyes peeled for something special.
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Since childhood, Chinero Nnamani has been fascinated by the world around her. As someone with too many ideas, deciding a career wasn’t a straightforward process. Chinero wanted to be a nurse, a graphic designer, a lawyer, a social activist, an inventor, a politician, a psychologist…and the list goes on.
In her search for a calling, Chinero learned about: computer science and graphic design in Sweden, creative writing and public policy in California, philosophy and psychology in London, statistics and data management in India, anthropology and human anatomy in Nigeria, and much more. With these experiences, Chinero learned how deeply embedded African influences were to the foundations of civilizations.
She then created the Chinero Nnamani brand to celebrate, and give well-deserved credit, to Africa’s influence in our culture and other cultures throughout the world.
How do you blend technology and art in your aesthetic?
The many interconnections between technology, mathematics, and art provide a wealth of material to emphasize the fusion of African influences.
My patterns tend to also celebrate math and technology with geometric influences, and the use of simple grids and linear perspective. The symbiosis of art and technology, in my opinion, allows for the most striking prints and clothing designs.
You make your own original prints, how easy or difficult has it been creating them?
I enjoy making prints by hand, but I can’t emphasize enough how technology has changed the game, and become integral to how I create my patterns, as it is incredibly convenient to travel with a tablet and stylus.
So to answer your question, it is very easy and fun to create my prints!
Can you tell us more about what you worked on before starting your brand?
Before starting my brand I worked as a freelance graphic designer, illustrator and web designer. I also worked as the Practice Manager of a Mental Health clinic.
These experiences have only helped consolidate my undergraduate experiences, and contribute to my personal and professional growth as a thinker, advocate, collaborator, manager, and leader.
What was particularly challenging to you when you decided to create the Chinero Nnamani brand?
The most challenging aspect of starting the brand was human resources, and finding and/or training reliable people to uphold my quality standards in Nigeria.
You really have to firmly and consistently foster an organizational culture of efficiency and high quality in Nigeria, or the quality will suffer without proper systems in place. Fortunately, I have steadily built an amazing team of people in Nigeria that are always eager to learn and excel.
You are present online and your flagship store is at the Jabi Lake Mall in Abuja. How did you go about opening the physical store?
Opening the store in Jabi, Abuja was a beautiful experience.
From our massive ornate mirrors, to our gold shelving, and blends of ornamentation and joyful visuals, I really was able to fulfill my vision for the space and have it emphasize global acuity and African pride.
What’s the creative process like for you? Where do you go, and what do you do, when you need inspiration?
I typically begin with a simple doodle or sketch in a moleskin notebook. I like to be out in nature or sitting by a window when I want to create.
Inspiration is drawn from the fluid forms and sharp colors of nature, music, traditional food, Nigerian folk art, masked dance, ancestral drums, Igbo attires, and the shear wealth of African influences and innovations in cultures and textiles throughout the world.
What is your three-year growth plan for Chinero Nnamani?
My three-year growth plan for the Chinero Nnamani brand is pursuing more expansion opportunities in the U.S. with physical store locations in malls, and pop-up events.
I also plan to release more lifestyle products like furniture, leather goods, and more!
In one sentence, how will you like to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as a conscientious person who was Black, a Woman, and Proud.
Jacqueline Shaw is the Founding Director of Africa Fashion Guide (AFG), a social enterprise and fashion sourcing agency. She has worked and designed for various fashion companies around the world. Companies such as PUMA, Russell Athletic, Ocean Pacific, Fila and Chilli Pepper to name a few. AFG is a unique platform that promotes and supports the supply chain of Africa’s fashion and textile industry. AFG supports SME’s by offering online courses providing them with relevant skills, knowledge, understanding and opportunities to network in the African market.
Jacqueline is also a published author. She wrote, curated, produced and self-published the coffee table book “FASHION AFRICA- The Visual Overview Of Contemporary African Fashion”. The book launched at The Fashion Africa Conference, which brought together key industry leaders from African fashion and ethical fashion. Since the conference’s launch, there’s been an array of high-street brands and retailers such as ASOS, H&M, NEW ERA as well as press including Financial Times, Guardian and more attending this conference.
SLA contributor Neo Cheda recently met up with Jacqueline and here’s what Jacqueline had to say.
What inspired you to get involved in this industry?
I have always loved textiles and as a child, I used to sew and make clothes for my toys from scraps of fabric. I believe I was inspired by the possibility of creating something out of something else.
Getting close up to hand-made textiles for me was a dream. I feel some textiles should not be cut or passed down but celebrated with stories for generations to keep their craft alive.
What would you say is the innovative idea behind Africa Fashion Guide?
We are a team of disruptive innovators. As a recent CNN Africa report said, “A disruptive innovation is an innovation that shakes up an existing market”. I have worked in a market dominated by Asia and am presenting a new market to this industry, one that has been overlooked and considered “dark”, “poor”, “bad in quality”, and “unable to perform”.
I believe that Africa is a continent of future leaders. Hence at Africa Fashion Guide, we have pioneered a movement for “fashion made in Africa” and not just that but ethically, sustainably and responsibly.
What challenges have you faced in the fashion industry?
Fashion in itself is an industry that takes a lot more than it gives. One really has to prove themselves and that can take years. But above all, you have to maintain the belief in yourself to do well as you can face a lot of rejections too.
There are also general challenges of systems and finance invested to support the industry. I found that working out of the continent, I am challenged to persuade the general industry of the African opportunity and to get them to invest in that.
How have you managed to stay the champions within Africa’s fashion supply chain?
We do not do fashion shows but we are here to talk business and to get the message across that Africa is, has been and will always be open for the fashion business. We have also focused on sustainability. I personally made it my effort to research, investigate and network with this community. I am even called to talk about this internationally.
With a Masters in Ethical Fashion and then completing an MSc in Social Research, I understand the importance of understanding the market and sustaining that market through responsible sourcing. Lastly, because we are consistent in what we do, we have gathered a strong following and a lot of respect too. We are not newbies to the field but have spent time digging deep to build the right foundation for building up our company.
Sonia Mugabo is the founder of Sonia Mugabo (“SM”), a Rwandan-based fashion brand offering an eclectic mix of African trends and contemporary style. SM offers both bespoke as well as ready to wear designs.
A pioneer of Rwanda’s fashion industry, Sonia is setting the standard for Rwandan fashion in global and local markets. Since its start three years ago, SM has cultivated a loyal following of customers who value the brand’s innovative and high-quality designs.
Most people in Rwanda wear second-hand clothes imported from Western countries, which basically means Rwanda’s local talent is largely ignored. Luckily, with the aim to encourage consumption of local products, the Rwandan government is putting a stop to the importation of second clothes.
As such, local designers are seizing the opportunity to build brands with a strong Rwandan heritage as well as creating jobs and inspiring young talent to pursue fashion careers. I believe emerging markets, like Rwanda, are centres of innovation since they’re compelled to innovate to solve unique challenges.
You internedat Teen Vogue in New York. What are some of the things you learned there that helped you navigate the Rwandan fashion scene and those you’ve had to discard?
Teen Vogue New York was a fast moving and fashionable environment. The behind-the-scenes of the fashion world intrigued me. I learned about clothing brands while observing talented fashion editors define the next season’s trends. I got a sense of how the business of fashion functions and the hard work involved to remain at the top in a highly competitive industry.
In Rwanda, I’ve had to follow my gut, work hard and just do everything possible to make my brand stand out. Also, since we’re in an age where we can market freely on social media, I’ve leveraged that platform to create brand awareness and reach a diverse audience.
You said your best work is created in New York, a city that’s been branded a fashion haven by fashion aficionados. Why did you choose to move to Rwanda to open Sonia Mugabo?
When I realized I wanted to pursue a fashion designer career, I discovered starting in New York was almost impossible without having gone to fashion school.
However, in Rwanda, there’s a lot of incentives by the Rwanda Business Development (RDB) for companies and individuals wishing to do business in the country. That encouraged me to return home after I graduated college to launch my brand, Sonia Mugabo.
What’s your advice to women considering a career in fashion but can’t access a fashion magazine internship or fashion school?
I’d say educate yourself as much as possible about the industry. Research how your favourite brands became fashion powerhouses.
Most importantly, if you want to start your own brand know that there is a whole other aspect of just making beautiful clothes. There’s the business side of fashion, so make sure you understand the 5 Ps of marketing [product, price, place, people and promotion].
Another key to note is, though the fashion industry might appear glamorous from the outside, a lot of work takes place behind the scenes. It isn’t an overnight success story so don’t expect to bear fruits right away. Sometimes, you even have to plant fresh seeds.
Lastly, I’d say set up a 5 to 10 year plan for yourself, set milestones and try to achieve them one step at a time.
If there was something you could change about the Rwandan fashion industry, what would it be?
I would encourage people to support local businesses as much as they support foreign ones.
I’d change the mindset that “Made in Rwanda” is of lower quality than something sold in Nordstorm. Support your own.
What’s next for Sonia Mugabo the brand and the person?
We’re excited about launching our second store at Kigali Marriott in Kigali, which will carry our up-scale collection inspired by timeless fashion.
We plan to continue creating strong fashion pieces that celebrate and capture the essence of global trends with an edge that is purely African, and will be distributing SM products around Africa, North America and Europe through e-commerce, retail stores, stockists and stores across major fashion cities in 2017. We also hope to present seasonal collections in New York, London, Paris and Milan fashion weeks.
Personally, since I’m self-taught, I would like to take fashion courses to enhance my craftsmanship. I’m excited about the future.
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When it comes to the modelling industry, Ghanaian model and fashion blogger Laurie Frempong is her own boss. She manages her career, finds her own jobs, negotiates payments and acts as her own PR. This model has been self–managing since she was discovered at a casting for Project Walkway Ghana nearly four years ago.
Over the years, Laurie has secured editorial, swimwear, print, runway and commercial modelling contracts without a manager or an agency. She would be first to admit that balancing self-management and a modelling can be very tough but with determination, one can achieve anything.
What led you to self-manage your modelling career?
After being discovered and gaining exposure at the Project Walkway Ghana, I went into full-time modelling but in Ghana, there are no real modelling agencies and models signed under agencies had to go out and search for jobs.
There was no need having a manager who would not assist me in anyway, yet expect to be paid. So I chose to manage my own career. This was not easy especially since I had to combine management with modelling. Both jobs are full-time so there are days my management skills would be lacking and there are days my modelling skills would be lacking. This was at the very beginning though, now I have developed a skill to balance both jobs so as to not lack in both areas.
As a self-managed model, how do you find work? What jobs have you done over the years?
Well in order to find work, I had to build a brand and that was what I did. I am identified with my natural hair and my colourfulness. After this, I found work through recommendations; attending castings —which are very few in the country, and via social media. I take my work very seriously and always give my best on the job so people contact me for a job knowing they are getting nothing but the best. I have worked many brands and shows like Afua Biney, Kiki Clothing, Woodin, Lema Press, Ernest Chemist, Zedi & Cross Alikoto Clothing, Nallem Clothing, Papa Oppong, Steve French, Wusuwa’s Diary, RIP Runway, Legon Fashion week, Catwalk for Orphans among others.
What are the challenges you face as a self-managing model in the industry? How do you overcome these challenges?
When I chose this path, I knew it was not going to be easy. Given the fact that Ghanaians are still warming up to modelling as a career, I knew I would face challenges. But I was still hopeful and determined to go through with my choices no matter what. Challenges I face include; –Non-payment for jobs well done. –Getting paid less than what was negotiated. –Missing out on castings because these opportunities are communicated directly to modelling agencies. For the payment challenges, I have rectified it by using a rate card. The rate card has details of how much a model charges depending on the type of job wanted. This card takes into consideration the number of hours involved, etc. This way when I am approached by a client, they know exactly what to expect.
With the issue about the castings, there is nothing I can do about it other than investing in myself, updating my portfolio and branding myself so well that I will not depend on these castings.
Would you say self-management is better than having another person manage you?
Well, there is nothing like being your own boss but to some extent I will say having a manager has its pros.
For instance, if I had a manager, I will have more time to focus on becoming the best model since I would not have to worry about the negotiating of contracts and payments.
Are there many self-managing models in the industry? What advice would you give to a self-managing model?
There are as many freelance models as there those who are under management in the industry. The advice I would give to a self-managing model like me is – self-management is not easy but nothing good comes easy. So stay focused; build your brand and portfolio, set goals and work towards them and most importantly learn to use social media to market your brand. Also when starting out, many people would try to take advantage of you so build your negotiation skills and be firm at all times.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Every single thing. This career allows me to express myself in so many ways and be true to myself. I also love seeing the product of my hard work. After all the stress, when I see the final work and it looks amazing, I am happy.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done as a model?
Recently, I had to do a runway for a fashion graduate, Steve French. The concept was to act like a mad person on the runway. It was one of the most creative shows ever.
Which international brand would you like to model for and which concept would it be?
Vlisco. An editorial spread and a fashion film. The fashion film will tell a story about the history of African Prints. And I would be the model styled in some iconic Vlisco designs since its inception.
I also dream of being a Victoria’s Secret model. That will be a dream come true for me.
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