With the eagerly-awaited launch of AFR coming up in a few weeks, I thought I should give a summary of what AFR is about and why I am so honoured to be a part of the team.
WHAT IS AUTHENTIC FASHION RENAISSANCE?
AFR was founded in 2009 by Kuda Biza, Kingstone Matsekeza and Jessica Levinson.AFR is committed to donate at least 20% of the proceeds from the sales of its shirts to African orphanages and charitable organizations in Africa. The purchase of one shirt will go to educate one child in Africa....hence AFR’s motto: ‘educating Africa one shirt at a time’.AFR has already donated $1000 to NOAH orphanage in South Africa in 2009.
All partners of AFR were born and raised in different parts of Africa and as they say "Africa always stays in your heart". They saw first-hand the sufferings of underprivileged Africans as they grew up in such countries as South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania. They have dedicated their lives to improving those of poverty-stricken Africans throughout the continent.
They pride themselves in being Africa's true ambassador to fashion, and invest in improving the lives of people in Africa and indeed the rest of the world.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR ME TO BE AN AFR AMBASSADOR/MODEL
I am particularly honoured to be an Ambassador/Model for Authentic Fashion Renaissance (AFR) because I want to be able to use my modelling, not just as a tool for expressing fashion and beauty, but to be able to be a voice for and to help others.I really believe in the vision that AFR has: to invest in improving the lives of Africans and others around the world.AFR is not only changing fashion; it’s changing lives.
Growing up in Africa and in other countries worldwide, I witnessed the suffering that various underprivileged people have.To this end, I have always been involved in helping those unable to help themselves.For example, for the past two years in Cairns, Australia I volunteered in the Community Legal Advice Centre, a centre which provides legal advice to those who cannot afford to pay for it.
Previously, I worked as a volunteer in the United Nations Human Rights Commission for Refugees, in Birmingham, UK, providing seminars to asylum-seekers to explain the complex immigration system and providing referral services for them.
Furthermore, I worked as a Social Policy Advisor for the Birmingham Citizens’ Advice Bureau, researching social policy areas that required reform and writing letters to Members of Parliament, to advocate change.Examples of areas where change was required was where banks were placing Automatic Teller Machines in economically disadvantaged areas and charging residents in those areas a fee for withdrawing money, many of whom relied on government benefits.Thus, I have always believed in speaking up for those who are being treated unfairly, cannot speak for themselves and helping to effect change where I can.
I believe that AFR’s mission of donating to African orphanages in particular, is poignant, as the children are the future of Africa, of the world. They are our future teachers, leaders etc and if we invest in their education, security and happiness now, we will be a part of providing for the future of the continent and the world.I believe that AFR has already begun to make its mark through action in fashion and has a very bright future. They are already recognized from Boca Raton to Chicago, Honduras to Swaziland, and Slovakia to Zimbabwe, with models from all over the world showing off their trendy designs.
AFR DESIGNS AFR has decided to focus on t-shirts and polos as they enter the fashion industry. They hope to expand their designs to all different aspects of fashion in the close years to come. Their designs are modern, unique, sophisticated and Afro-centric. I personally love the fit of the shirts and am looking forward to modelling and wearing the new designs coming out within the next year.
There are many people who have dreams, of running their own business to becoming a writer etc.An American business consultant, Patrick Lenzioni, states the number of people unhappy with their jobs, is at an all-time high.It seems many of us just go through the days, waiting expectantly for the day we will retire.But why do so many of us hold back from pursuing our dreams?
TOP UNTRUTHS/REASONS WE & OTHERS TELL OURSELVES
1.Our dream is unrealistic/Very few people make it/It’s impossible
Sometimes we may tell ourselves or others may convince us, that our dream is unrealistic and unachievable.But who is to say so if it hasn’t been attempted?It is more unrealistic to keep doing a job and living a life you hate, instead of trying to effect change for yourself.
The fashion and entertainment industry is very large, as are many other industries that we may desire to break into. But it is a myth to believe that you won’t make it.With persistence, drive, ambition and hard work anything is possible.Find your individuality: everyone has something that makes them stand out.I am unique in my own dream as I have the heart to show that people of colour can also be in the forefront of fashion in Australia and in countries where they are the minority. I also love fashion and modelling and believe I have a unique look.Furthermore, if you are so passionate about something and you feel it in your heart, believe and expect it, eventually doors will start to open. You are the only one that can stop you…your only limitation is your mind. And even if you go through some pain to achieve it, that can be your motivation to keep pushing.
What is the definition of ‘making it’? I have my own definition of success, based on what I want to achieve and what is important to me.One person’s definition of ‘making it’ may certainly not be the same as the next person, so do what sits right with you and don’t live for anyone else.
2.Fear and lack of self-belief
Understandably, many of us are afraid to fail.But many successful people have failed and have kept getting up and trying again.If I did not keep knocking at people’s doors over and over again, even when I’m told no, I would not have been given the chance to do more than half of the things that I have done.To get a spot in the Cairns Eye magazine, I rung up the editor several times a month because I believed so strongly that there should be more people of colour in the fashion feature.It took me more than 6 months, but eventually I was able to be in it, worked hard during the shoot and loved every minute of it.
Remember Chris Gardner, (Will Smith played his character in ‘The Pursuit of Happyness)? He went through being a homeless salesman, to being unpaid for several months in a job that he loved BUT eventually got hired as a stockbroker – his dream job.
A Zimbabwean life coach, Tatenda Nhema, always tells me, ‘at times you just have to live through your fear, you have to roar like a lion does, before attacking its prey’.There are many times that I’m afraid of failure, afraid of what people will say or think’, but I just take a step of faith each time.
3.‘You can’t do that, people your age do this & that, you should do this, not that’
Oftentimes we will follow what society expects us to do.But why do something you have no heart or desire to do and live a miserable life? It’s about following what you believe in and finding your own way to achieve it.As Guy Kawasaki, from Garage Technology Ventures says, ‘if you make meaning, you will probably make money, but if you start out to make money, you will probably not make meaning or money’.So follow your heart and that will often lead to success…and financial comfort will follow.I do some unpaid modelling work and even though it would be great to be paid for everything I do, I do everything with a passion and it feels more rewarding when I am doing something from the heart...that I love.I’m willing to sacrifice financial comfort, on my path towards my dreams.
HOW CAN WE KEEP OUR DREAMS ALIVE?
Don’t be afraid to dream…believe in yourself and ignore those who tell you your dream is ‘silly’
We live in a society where we want instant results, but you have to realise that everything takes time and with hard work, goals can be achieved
Make a plan and be willing to take action, including being persistent
Don’t ‘copy’ someone else who is successful in the same field: even though it’s great to have a mentor or someone you look up to, you are your own person and when you work from your own heart, dreams are more achievable if you follow your own way
Failures are just steps towards success so ‘dust yourself off’ & keep going