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.

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Follow Nini on Instagram: @nini_4u
Twitter/Snapchat: @NiniAmerlise
Youtube: Nini Amerlise
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