In a realm like fashion that is not only demanding, but highly competitive, the path to a successful career isn’t an easy feat for a young model trying to establish a distinct brand alongside thousands of professionals striving for similar milestones. However, for 2017 SuperModel Canada winner Nini Amerlise, the captivating story of her steady rise in fashion is one of higher purpose and triumph.
Since beginning her career in 2014, the internationally-featured, award-winning model has confidently slayed an impressive list of runways including New York Fashion Week, Toronto Fashion Week, and African Fashion Week Toronto. She has graced the pages of popular publications like Vogue and is working endlessly to promote a message of faith, positivity, self-love, and empowerment amongst millennials.
Redefining Her Passion and Finding Her Purpose
Throughout childhood, Nini was often bullied and endured years wrestling with extremely low self-esteem and depression. The emotional and mental scarring caused by ongoing verbal abuse and mistreatment by her childhood peers spanned as far as racist slurs and death wishes. In 2014, however, her life took a transformative turn. Nini responded to a casting call and auditioned to model and become the “Face of African Fashion Week Toronto”, all the while battling with damaging thoughts, painful experiences, and numerous insecurities. Despite questioning if she had what it took to stand apart from the other competing models, Nini stepped out in faith and walked into her newfound passion and calling.
I recently had the opportunity to sit and chat with Nini, who is now using her story to influence the younger generation and impact the fashion industry. Continue reading below to find out how this purpose-driven model has managed to build a strong brand, while connecting with millennials along her journey.
What led you to get into the fashion industry?
After auditioning for African Fashion Week Toronto in 2014, it sparked a desire for me to learn more about the industry and how to become a professional model. I’ve always been a creative person, and because fashion is a creative-based industry, it fuelled that desire for me to express myself through this platform. It led me to understand myself. That understanding developed into self-love and appreciation—something that I didn’t feel before this experience. I once felt unloved and unappreciated by the world due to the harsh experience of being bullied.
With fashion being such a competitive industry, what are some of the challenges you have when it comes to gaining exposure and setting yourself apart from other models?
In most fashion shows and casting calls, they particularly choose one token black model. This makes black models who attend castings feel threatened by one another. There are also challenges that I have when hairstylists for shows and photo shoots are working with my natural hair. Despite that, I don’t view modeling as though it’s a competition. If one door closes, I can go through another. There are opportunities for everyone.
How have you carved out your personal brand?
My afro has set me apart—it expresses my personality and gives me that unique look. The more I became confident in my skin and truly understood what it meant to be fearfully and wonderfully made by my Creator, the more I found my brand identity. I am a reflection of God’s love and this love is reflected through my brand. Through it, I’ve been able to influence millennials and connect with them on a deeper level.
As a young rising supermodel, has expressing your faith and weaving it into your brand identity been challenging?
I get pressured to not share my true love for God. I used to be afraid of how others in the industry would respond to this. I find that many people place judgments on God without knowing Him. I honestly don’t focus on religiosity. For me, it’s all about relationship—this perspective is what has allowed me to speak openly about my faith, which is founded on love.
You have also managed to build many authentic relationships through your unique brand. How have you managed to strengthen these connections throughout your career?
I try to bring a sense of humility to fashion. Many view fashion and entertainment as elite industries. We often put celebrities on high platforms. So, I try to make a welcoming connection with my audience. I do my best to reply to comments on social media and show that I am approachable and not above my followers in any way. I believe that’s how God intends for it to be. In this industry relationships are extremely important! Every time I do a casting, I try to make a close connection with everyone who’s involved, including the designer. Since interactions at castings are so brief, when I get the opportunity to, I make an effort to learn more about the designer I’m working with and understand what the inspirations are behind their collection. The industry is so diverse, and I’m always happy to constantly be learning.
According to you, what are 3 steps to nurturing a successful brand?
One, identify what the purpose is behind your brand. Two, once you’ve done that, put your vision into momentum in order to see it become a reality. Three, once that vision-driven momentum is fuelled, stay consistent until things come into fruition. Consistency is key. Never give up!
Nini Amerlise did an interview for the GT Network sharing her journey and the obstacles she faced growing up being bullied. Through these challenges she was able to rise up and provide advice and inspire women everywhere to love their bodies, continue to fight past the negativity and embrace the skin they are in. Beauty comes from within and is not judged according to how other people see you, because your soul sparks so much light into this world and you deserve to shine.
Self-sabotage is the #1 anxiety reliever for millennial women.
Self-sabotage is the fear that our best isn’t good enough, so in order to avoid this anxiety and potential disappointment, we choose to freeze, stall, neglect, forget, and delay ourselves.
Even for me, I almost didn’t write this article. I almost sabotaged a perfectly good opportunity to be seen, heard & connected with. All things I actually want and desire, but another strange part of me simultaneously fears.
This is something many of us don’t like to admit. A lot of us sabotage the fruition of our own dreams because we fear the person we would have to become in order to live them.
Whether its fear of judgement, looking stupid, failing at something we love, or not feeling “good enough”, we often struggle to get out of our own way.
Self-sabotage occurs when your conscious mind (the logical one that tells you to brush your teeth or download all of SZA’s music) is fighting with your subconscious mind (the lazy one that accidentally sleeps through your alarm or scrolls on Instagram for hours to avoid homework or cleaning your room).
That disconnect -that clash of needs and wants- manifests itself in self-sabotaging behavior. Getting drunk the day before a big presentation, forgetting to reply to emails, not planning a busy day properly, missing submission deadlines for a competition you know you’d be great for, the list goes on!
It’s all our subconscious way of preventing disappointment and coping with fear.
Even though I’ve been a fashion model for 4 years now, owning my passion at first was often uncomfortable for me. I felt awkward when people asked me if I was a model and wanted to quickly minimize my achievements. I’ve been published in Vogue Italy and featured in Maxim USA’s web series called ‘What Beautiful Women Want’, before all that I competed in a beauty pageant and that’s where I got my start.
Not owning your story is also a form of self-sabotage.
I didn’t want people to know about my talents or aspirations because I feared that I would have to prove myself and not measure up. Or if I failed, more eyes would be on me and I’d feel more embarrassed.
But in reality, who are we not to express our highest, creative selves? Who are we to not share our light, beauty, or truth, especially when others notice it and want to support or celebrate it?
Over the past few years I’ve reviewed my own self-sabotaging patterns and worked hard to call them out and change my subconscious beliefs. I used the power of self-love to claim my right to shine!
Now when I catch any habits of the Sabotage Squad sneaking into my life, I clap back & ask them to take a seat while I go forward & be great!
So, what does it really take to move in the direction of your dreams, without all the internal drama?
Here are 3 Self-Love Secrets from a former Self-Sabotaging Beauty Queen:
- Find yourself.
To begin to make progress, it’s important that you find the areas where you are practicing self-sabotage. Look at the various areas of your life, such as finances, health, career and relationships. Determine which areas you need to kick the sabotage squad of out of.
- Choose to accept or change yourself.
Accept that you’re afraid of success! It means you that you really do care about your future. But then sit with your fears for a minute.
Can you live with not having your dreams come true? Will your family and friends actually dislike you if you pursue your passion? Maybe you’ll find your tribe as you pursue your goals, maybe you really are great photographer, writer, event planner and the world is just waiting for you to show up!
Thankfully, fears are not fixed. Start to question the actuality of your fears. Or accept that you’re scared and prefer to stay safe. That’s okay too! Accept that you’re not ready, but do your best to get ready!
- Love yourself & courageously commit to change.
Now that you’ve changed your beliefs around your fears, summon up all the courage within you and commit to pursuing your goals drama-free. Write your to-do list and love yourself enough to move in the direction of your dreams, one step at a time.
These steps have helped me remove mental blocks and get a hold of my self-sabotaging patterns. I know it’s so much easier to play small sometimes. To continuously quit before even trying. To squander our talents and procrastinate.
We ruin our chances at success and happiness by not raising our hands, speaking up, showing up, and sharing our unique brilliance with the world.
Our anxieties and fears might be temporarily alleviated by self-sabotage, but practicing self-love is the cure that allows us to show up on time fearlessly for our dreams.
To your self-love and happiness,
Self-Love & Confidence Coach
Tis’ the season for gift giving! Everybody has a girl boss in their life who is killing it out there in the business world and deserves to be rewarded for their hard work. Show your fellow girl bosses how much you do appreciate them with a thoughtful gift that will be a great asset to their success.
This year’s gift guide is perfect for anyone looking to give a little something to a special entrepreneur this season. With the holidays around the corner, we have your back for last minute presents and gift ideas that are in fact, absolutely adorable. Scroll through our top choices!
“The Sun and Her Flowers” by: Rupi Kaur – $15
A beautiful story about growing and healing, written in a sequence of poems that teaches your valuable lesson to love yourself and find comfort in your own skin. Recently purchased this gem and have to admit that it is my go-to whenever I am need of some cheering up.
Clipboard Calendar – $18
Sometimes the giant sized calendars are difficult to find a place for on your wall, which is why this clipboard is the perfect size to have at your next, on your wall or even to carry around with you. This will make sure you stay on top of your tasks throughout the month and is an excellent gift!
Tis’ the Season, Candle – $13
Light up your workspace with Bath and Bodyworks’ Christmas candle. Sit back and relax as the smell of cedar wood and cinnamon fills the room with holiday spirit. Every entrepreneur needs desk décor, so why not spoil them with a scented treat.
“200 Women Who Will Change the Way You See the World” editor: Geoff Blackwell – $39
A series of interviews with 200 inspiring women from a variety of backgrounds that will surly make a difference in your life. This is the perfect, pick me up for anyone in need of some inspiration to keep on going.
“You do You” by: Sarah Knight – $14
Enter the new year with a completely different mindset than 2017, and learn how to own it in the business world with Sarah Knights motivational novel teaching you the importance of staying true to you.
Portable Charger – $20
Everybody knows a hard working entrepreneur is constantly on their phone setting up meetings or staying connected on the web so why not make it easier for them to stay on the move with a portable charger they can throw in their bag and not have to worry about finding an outlet.
Evernote App. – $12 monthly
This app. that lets you write and store notes in one place that can be accessed anytime, anywhere. – Conveniently, this app allows you to send your notes to everyone on your team!
It’s always the worst when you’re out and about and a flash of ideas rush into your mind and you do not have anything to document it. Get yourself a notepad and carry it around with you everywhere so you can easily jot down notes or if you’re on the subway and want to begin organizing a plan for your next project.
Let us know what your favourites are!
Shout out to all the 4th year College / University students for pulling through these last few semesters. Congratulations, you made it. The year is not over yet, and with more work, comes more stress and a lot more to think about before the year is finished.
4th year is an important year in your College experience, not the most important but it is definitely up there. I am going to be real with you, just because you’re in your final year as a student does not mean you should be neglecting your studies to hang out at frat parties. The occasional night out is okay, and probably well needed, but do not get carried away. The truth is, from the first day of classes to your day of graduation, there is no time to slack off. You are in your last year of College and sh** is about to get real, make the most of it and plan accordingly.
I have suffered major setbacks and many late nights throughout University and 3 years ago I probably would have laughed in your face if you told me I would be in my 4th year. If I had a dollar for every time I wanted to drop out, bruh I could pay my tuition, no problem. Despite what any adult will tell you, College is hard. Yes, a full time job is also stressful and a lot of work but once you clock out, you are done until the next day – typically with a full time job. In College when you go home all your work carries on with you and continues to pile up. Being in your 4th year is difficult and not only because of the course load, but a lot of extra stress is implemented on you to figure out your future. But do not let that discourage you.
In this post I am going to address common anxieties that arise in your 4th year, mostly from my own experience pushing through my last few semesters. This way, you do not have to feel like you are alone in all of this or if you are not in your 4th year just yet, then this will help get you prepared for what is to come and help you kill it in your final year.
Minimize your course load as much as possible:
You want to keep your grades up, and trying to confine all your subjects in one semester will only overwhelm you even more. I made this mistake this semester thinking that I will be able to graduate faster by doing so, but honestly it was not worth it. Luckily, I still managed to stay on top of my work and do well but I barely had time for myself. Going to school full time and working is especially difficult, so I recommend taking on what you can handle. Just because you’re in your 4th year, does not mean you need to graduate on time. Make your own schedule and do what works best for you.
Most deadlines to apply for graduation or further studies are due within the end of your first semester (This is based off of my school, make sure you check for updates and alerts at your own school!) Deadlines are another added anxiety to your 4th year because while you are finishing up assignments and studying for exams the last thing you want to be thinking about is your graduation photo form, but that does not mean you should neglect them until the due date. Schedule a meeting with your department manager at the beginning of the semester to discuss all the upcoming deadlines and opportunities available. This way you will know well in advance all your requirements to graduate.
“What are you doing next?”
This is probably the most stressful question any student will be asked in all their years of College. Want to hear a secret? “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer. Okay, you’re in your 4th year, yes, you should probably have a general idea of your future because you spent 4 years studying, but that does not mean you need to know exactly what you’re going to do after graduation. Do you know how many people change careers post-graduation? A lot. I do not know the exact number of people but trust me when I say it’s a lot. That being said, if somebody asks you this question and you do know, great! You’re doing better than most of us and I would love to hear your future plans because this is genuinely amazing news. But, if you are someone who freezes up when you hear this question, then instead of panicking, politely explain to the person that the 4 years you spent in College provided you with excellent learning experiences that you will be able to carry on with you forever. However, you’re still trying to find your muse.
So there you have it, 4th year College and University anxieties that will drive you crazy but make you miss being a student once you’re gone. These are not strictly limited to every student and are not all the anxieties you will acquire – everyone has a different experience. Congratulations people, you deserve recognition for making it this far, despite the fight it took to get here.
Anybody can wake up and start a company, but it takes dedication, time and commitment to make a business work and be successful. You do not need to be highly qualified or have attended prestigious schools (although these are great qualities to succeed). Sometimes your mistakes and failures lead you right to your destiny. What do I mean by this? If you lose your job or are rejected from a company, then this is probably a wakeup call to try something new or go into an entirely different direction, career wise. Joëlle Anello, a Toronto blogger turned her hobby, her blog La Petite Noob, into a full time career after an unfortunate shift in her work life. She took what seemed like an escape from reality, and made it her every day.
I had the chance to connect with Joëlle, who is an entrepreneur that inspires me to continue working for my dreams despite the obstacles I face. Read below for Joëlle’s experiences with becoming a blogger and her advice to aspiring young millennials looking for direction but are unsure of what to do.
Did you always want to become a blogger?
For me, blogging was a way to escape a workplace that I wasn’t 100% happy in. I needed a creative outlet, and my blog La Petite Noob definitely filled that void. As the years went by, and I started to gain more readers and traction, I finally started seeing myself as a ‘blogger’ and began to think that maybe this was something that I could do more than just a hobby.
Did you ever expect you would be your own boss and travel around the world?
Honestly, I never expected to be working for myself. I’m a pretty structured person, so I was always happy working as a part of a company. Because I view the blog as a piece of myself, I never really look at myself as a ‘boss.’ I’m just very grateful to be able to do what I love, to share myself with the world and to be able to support myself financially while doing so.
What you would you say is the hardest thing about being your own boss?
I think having to wear so many hats is definitely the hardest thing about being your own boss. In any given day, I’m my own copywriter, secretary, cleaning staff, travel agent, sales negotiator, etc. It can get to be quite tiring, and the job literally never stops, but because this is my passion it doesn’t bother me much!
Was there ever a time where you wanted give up? What kept you going?
Sometimes, one the busiest days, or where there are lots of little mistakes being made that are 100% my fault, I can get quite down. The passion I have for my blog always keeps me going so, while the hard days do weigh on me, I’ve never considered giving up.
What were some of the biggest lessons that have impacted the way you work?
I’ve learned to always believe and advocate for yourself. Never let anyone make you question your worth. If you want something, don’t be afraid to ask for it. And above all, always proof read your emails!
Did you have any mentors to help you get to where you are, now?
While I couldn’t pin-point a mentor, I’m constantly motivated and driven by the bloggers around me – especially in Toronto. The amount of passion, creativity and hustle in this industry is completely inspiring!
Do you have any advice for a blogger / young entrepreneur starting up?
My advice for a new blogger is to dive in head-first and always, always, always create out of passion. Become obsessed with content, and never stop trying to accumulate it. This industry has to be your passion, because all of the perks can take a long time to come – for example, I didn’t get my first paid project until I had been blogging for almost 2 years. Enjoy the ride!
I recently attended an event in Toronto, dedicated to young individuals who have undergone failures throughout their career but have bounced back and continue to fight any obstacle along the way. The hosts Paula Reid, and Anne Phitsanoukanh organized an evening full of inspirational speakers who, personally, left me thinking about how I can turn my failures into successes.
Shut up, Nobody Cares took place at the Gladstone Hotel on Thursday evening. The title was enough encouragement for me to attend the event because I wanted to understand the meaning behind the podcast. The definition of Shut Up, Nobody Cares revolves around this idea of not being afraid to admit when you make a mistake or have fallen on your face because realistically, nobody cares. Continue to work and succeed without the pressure to be perfect. Your mistakes lead you towards bigger and better opportunities, and by worrying about how many failures you have experienced, then you will never be able to move from those mishaps.
One speaker that really stood out to me was an individual who taught a mini physics lesson on the speed of light. At first, I was completely lost and honestly, uninterested in the topic, but this guy amazed me with how he tied in the theme of, Shut Up, Nobody Cares. After explaining the background on the speed of light, he concluded by pointing out the mistakes and failures that experts experienced when trying to discover the truth of the universe. He says, “Life is full of mistakes and setbacks, but our lives are the same. They make us who we are and we wouldn’t be here without them” this line made me realize the possibilities that are available and that there is no end goal. As young entrepreneurs working towards a career we may have always considered being successful as owning my own company. This speaker provides motivation to always keep going no matter what stage of my success I am at.
The night continued with plenty of individuals who shared their success stories and tips on how they overcame the tragedy of letting fear ruin their chances of success. The one thing I took away from this event was that failure is inevitable, but you should not allow your fear to take away your hope.
After speaking with Paula on why she decided to take Shut Up, Nobody Cares into a public space, she indicated that a lot of podcasts take place in the United States and she wanted to bring that aroma of positivity and encouragement to Toronto.
The event was a complete hit, and I was in awe with everyone’s stories, because they were real and unexpected. I say unexpected because every speaker contributed something different and unique that at least, made me feel like my story is not finished just yet.