Success has always been a tricky beast. One quick trawl through Instagram’s #MondayMotivation quotes, and you’d be forgiven for thinking success is just the result of “dreaming big” or “never giving up.” The reality? Success isn’t simply waiting for you to think about it – it’s waiting for you to earn it. As the saying goes, “If you don’t sacrifice for what you want, what you want will become the sacrifice.” And these women know all about that…
For the launch of its new Tech Pack collection, Nike partnered with four bad-ass local women – all of whom understand the value of continuing to move towards making it. Or, to put it plainly: they’ve embraced the hustle. Although they all excel in different areas – one’s a traditional dancer, the other a sprinter – they share a common understanding; that if they want to keep growing, they have to keep moving. We sat down with each of Nike’s movers, as their own brand of movability was being captured on camera…
As a traditional African dancer, Caden’s goal is to get her team recognised both nationally and internationally. For her, dancing isn’t just about posting 1-minute Level Up challenge to her Instagram. “I feel Traditional Dance is a way of celebrating some of the cultures and heritage of our country,” she says, while slipping into a Nike Tech Pack pullover, designed for comfort, with body-movement in mind. “Every part of a movement counts. From the way my shoulders move in relation to my arms, in relation to my legs and feet, and even my facial expressions,” she explains, “the best way to release my creativity is to perfect every part of every movement, so that the story that a dance represents is portrayed well.”
Perfecting movement might sound easy on paper but, as Caden starts to perform for the camera, it’s clear it’s far from simple. Still, it’s not the only challenge she faces; juggling school work with dancing keeps her on her feet (so to speak) as does focusing on being herself.
“I wish all South African women knew that you are the only person or thing that defines you. Not society’s preconceived ideas that you may not live up to…”
Chelsea Sloan Samuels
As we break to style another mover, in walks (for a change) track sprinter Chelsea, who kicks ass in both 100-metre and 200-metre distances. If anyone knows about movement, and pace – having made the Western Cape provincial athletics team – it’s her.
As Chelsea selects the Tech Pack look that works for her lifestyle; a relaxed, stretchy hoodie and knee-length skirt with disruptive graphics, she tells us about the challenges she faces in her work. “The biggest struggle is motivation. You have to be extremely focused and strategic in the way that you live; what you eat, what substances you take, how much you eat… I don’t get to live like ‘normal’ people.” The training is also non-stop, and there are moments people wonder why she’s “torturing herself”. “My answer is always my goals – the feeling when you cross that line first, what it means to be the best at something that is so unpredictable.” Her ritual before she runs, when she’s in the blocks, includes looking at the finish line and wiping the grain from the track off her fingers onto her thigh… “If I don’t do that, I don’t feel ready!”
Of course, who wants to be normal, anyway? “I wish women knew they don’t have to be traditionally normal. Like, dating, getting engaged, getting married, living a life of falling pregnant and cooking for your husband… That’s not something you have to have (unless that’s your passion). Once you understand your passion and who you are inside out, that should be what drives your life… If you have talent and passion, fulfill those first.”
Thandazile ‘Sonia’ Radebe
Sonia (Thandazile) – bright, energetic, infectious in her upbeat-ness – was born to a family of artists. “My grandmother was a singer, my mother was an actress, my sister was a dancer… So, that’s where my journey started.” As a youth, she joined dance groups in the townships, such as the Dance Factory Youth and the Soweto Dance Theatre, choosing to spend her time dancing after school. She worked professionally with Moving into Dance and from there, she started her own dance company called Sonia Dance Works. Today, she works as an African Contemporary soloist, and creates and choreographs works for other companies, prisons and schools, where she teaches school subjects using the art of creative movement (she coined the phrase Edudance).
It takes a lot to keep the spirit of dance alive in you, to keep moving, keep creating. “I do a lot of improvisation, that allows my body to freely move in space,” Sonia says. “I allow myself to be a mover. I’m inspired by a piece of music that evokes certain feelings in me – that encourages me to be creative.”
For Sonia, looking mighty strong in her pose in a cropped Nike Tech Pack crop with a bra-inspired look and support, dance is about telling stories. And, as South African women, she believes we certainly have a lot of those to tell.
“It’s so important tell your own story and not let anyone tell it on your behalf. The change we want to see lies within us. The power we seek exists within us – we just need to learn to listen.”
As we wind down shooting Thandazile, in walks Megan Woolley, striking in her looks and powerful in her stature. Megan’s creativity oozes out of every pore. Which is a good thing for an art director – although she’d rather not be defined as solely that. “I would say I am a bit of a shape shifter. Being on set is definitely my biggest love but I also do design work (which is what I studied),” she says, while sieving through the Tech Pack rack, thumbing each lightweight hoodie, stroking the soft, breathable fabrics. “Learning more about people and behaviour through working with and on brands fascinates me. I dove straight into freelancing after university as I quite like to stay on the move…”
Of course, freelancing your way to the top is an always-on monster, with little downtime. And Megan admits she struggles to separate herself from her work, at times. That’s a challenge, along with staying creatively full of juice. “I take a lot of photographs while I’m on the move, and collect a lot of random things – all of which then inspire my designs.”
Just like the clothes she effortlessly models as the camera snaps away, Megan is about versatility. “I’ve realised that I don’t ever just have to be one thing… I feel like I’m still getting there though!”