It feels like a beautifully woven matrix of life events have been orchestrated to bring me into a purpose-filled life path in fashion, style, sustainability, female empowerment and poverty alleviation. The interconnectivity of these things has organically merged them into a career that I love! I’ll explain how I arrived at this wonderful and exquisite happenstance.
Style with its life-altering potential, vibrant colours, beautiful patterns and potentially intoxicating beauty has always been an integral part of my life. I think my sense of style came in early childhood from watching the style icons of Hollywood’s golden era (1930s – 1960s) like Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. Throughout the years, I’ve discovered style has magical healing power to uplift and change lives.
The desire for poverty alleviation was stamped on my soul when I was about 4 years old. I remember seeing a charity fundraising infomercial on tv. It showed very skinny people in a poverty-stricken nation nearly starved to death. I was mortified by the images and shaken to my very core. My 4-year-old mind wondered why no one had taught these people how to grow food by planting seeds in the ground, the way my mom had taught me in her vegetable garden. At that moment, I decided when I grew up, I would go to those countries and teach them how to grow food. Several years later, I learned there was more to this conundrum like systems, economics, natural disasters, capitalism, wars, etc.
Sustainability and styling came to the fore during another eureka moment that happened at age 15. It was the moment I spotted a vintage replica of the legendary green curtain dress from the iconic 1939 film, Gone with the Wind, in the window of an op shop. That was the moment that started my personal styling career, with creatively mixing vintage and contemporary clothes. As much as I adored the unique experience of op shopping, I couldn’t help but notice that too much of the unwanted clothing from western countries was being shipped off to African countries for aid and for profit. Contributing to visible mountains of trash, these second-hand clothes had not only become an environmental hazard, but they were destroying the local, traditional fashion industries. My passion for sustainable and ethical fashion came into effect.
A valuable, lifelong lesson on female empowerment came shortly after this, through observation of the women in one specific ethnic group in Africa. There is benefit when men are empowered but globally, the gap in gender empowerment balance is too wide. In this ethnic group, the women did most of the farm work, raised and educated the children, while the men spent most of the days at the local beer parlours. It made me think when a woman is empowered, the entire family usually benefits. Therefore, if all women were empowered, how much better off would the world be? The desire for female empowerment was thus created. I got a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master’s degree in International Development to support this goal.
In our current climate, all these issues intersect. For example, fashion amongst other industries impacts women, social justice, the environment and poverty. These are just a few of the fork-in-the-road moments that chartered the course of my life up to this point. Wherever I was, was where I needed to be in order to learn the lessons and follow the signs to a fulfilling life and career. I’m very appreciative of being able to style women to be their best, encourage self-empowerment, teach sustainable fashion techniques, support people and organisations in advocating for social justice, climate change, gender equality, personal and international development. I love working towards solutions that change systems, culture and shift the status quo for progress.