This post first appeared on BeyondfashionMagazine
Glimpse Into Creative World of Mirian Njoh: 23 Questions with the Creator of ‘Love Mirian’
When did you start modelling and how did you get into this business?
I’ve been modelling on and off for years. I’d have a friend that was a fashion designer and they’d ask me to model their pieces or meet a photographer and decide to collaborate on a shoot. I also picked up photography and began modelling for myself a lot. I studied fashion in post-secondary school and have been in the industry for a few years so that helps too because I cross paths with a lot of the same people whether I worked with them as a stylist, photographer, blogger, or in any other capacity.
What was the most exciting project you ever worked on?
I recently did a beauty shoot with photographer Chris Nicholls and that was especially cool because not only is he a highly respected artist with great work but I’d met him in passing a few years ago when I was working as a stylist assistant and wanted to work with him even then. An old classmate saw the photographs from the shoot and reminded me of how we learned about him in school. It was a full circle moment finally being able to work with him. I also serendipitously landed in Uniqlo’s debut Canadian campaign which was one of my biggest jobs at the time so that was pretty amazing too.
What celebrities inspire you?
I have so much respect for Beyonce and her work ethic. She runs circles around other artists. And she often uses her platform to help other lesser known artists gain exposure through her audience. I admire Rihanna’s versatility and ability to stay true to herself no matter what she’s doing whether it’s music, lingerie, or whatever project she’s working on.
Have you ever experienced any difficulties working as a model because of albinism or does it actually help you in your career?
I would say my albinism can both hurt and help in my career depending on the situation. I stand out and look different which a lot of people like and some clients might be drawn to but sometimes standing out and looking different can hinder me because a client wants someone that looks more generic. Also, sometimes I feel exoticized and/or made to feel like a token because of my albinism which is something I’m still processing my feelings about.
Do you follow any specific diet?
No, not really. I rarely eat red meat but that’s mainly because I don’t like it. Other than that I eat everything else but just try to do it in moderation. I have a sweet tooth and love candy so there’s always room for that too.
How do you prefer to do your hair?
For the past year or two, I’ve been wearing my hair in natural, low-heat styles. I like curls and afro puffs have become a signature style for me.
What is your favourite makeup look?
I like makeup that is on the simpler, more natural side. I like for my skin to look moisturized and have a healthy glow. I may or may not wear mascara and either like a very matte nude lip or a light lip gloss.
If you weren’t a model, what would you be?
There’s so many things I’d be pursuing but they’d all be some sort of creative path. I have loved writing since I was a little kid and hope to write a book one day so I might be working on that. I’ve also spent so much of my life making music so I’d probably pursue that too.
How would you describe your style?
Versatile first and foremost because I like to try many styles. I don’t have one particular style because I like exploring different looks so it just depends on my mood or what I’m inspired by at the time. I think the most unifying characteristic to my style is that I try to always keep a good balance of masculine and feminine elements when I put my outfits together, like wearing an oversized men’s jacket with heels.
Who is your style icon and why?
I don’t have one particular style icon but I admire the fashion sense of many different people. I love the way Aaliyah mixed tomboy and womanly aesthetics and lately, I’ve had a growing appreciation for Cher’s style and how people still take cues from it to this day.
What is the best compliment you ever got?
Some of the best compliments I’ve received have been from people who were deeply touched by something I did or my work in general and they reached out to tell me how it affected them. It always resonates so much with me when someone tells me that because they saw my work, it gave them hope or more confidence or just helped them to find more beauty, peace, and strength in themselves. Either that or when artists are inspired by my look to paint or draw me. To be a muse and inspire creativity in someone else is humbling.
Is there a project you would really like to work on (tv show, music video, etc)?
I’d love to model for Pat McGrath or Fenty Beauty because they’re both such inspiring, empowering, female-driven brands. Outside of modelling, I want to work more with brands in the fashion and beauty industries to create content that engages and uplifts while telling genuine stories people can relate to or be inspired by. That could include producing and publishing the content myself, acting as a consultant, or any other part of that process.
You have founded your own womenswear fashion retailer Sororum, can you tell us more about it?
Sororum is a womenswear and accessories brand that makes unique pieces specially sourced from Liberia and Morocco available to people on this side of the globe. The line includes one of a kind garments made from fabric locally sourced in Monrovia and handcrafted jewelry and bags from Monrovia and Marrakesh.
What inspired you to start Sororum?
I was inspired by the trips I would take home to either Monrovia or Lagos and how I always came back to Toronto with great pieces that no one else had and that fondly reminded me of my time there. I wanted to make that experience available to more people so that even if they weren’t traveling there themselves, they could still experience the culture in a special way.
What was the most difficult thing about starting it?
My biggest challenge was doing everything by myself. I am the one-woman-team that designed the garments, pattern-drafted most of them, and sewed them all piece by piece. Then I sourced all the fabric, jewelry, and accessories. I worked with shopkeepers and haggled in the markets on the street. I returned to Toronto and cataloged and organized everything. I built the website all by myself. I laid each piece out, photographed it from all angles, and edited each product image. I did all the back-end business planning and operations. Then it was my responsibility to market and sell the products and bring them successfully through the point-of-sale. While I did have some support, it was just me day-in and day-out and after several months of this, I was completely burnt out.
What are your personal and business goals for the next 5 years?
Right now I feel like I’m on the cusp of some major professional and personal growth so I’m just trying to keep honing my crafts be prepared for that. In the next 5 years, I hope I’m at a point where for the most part I only have to focus my energy and attention on the things that I’m passionate about and that make me happy. That and financial freedom make up my current definition of success so I hope to be there in 5 years.
You have your own blog, ‘Love Mirian’ (it’s really very well-done by the way), what do you like to write about the most?
Thank you for the kind words! I think my favorite part of the blog has been having the opportunity to share other people’s stories through the interviews I’ve done. Whether I knew them at the time of the interview or we met as strangers, I loved learning from people and creating a platform for them to share their knowledge and inspire others.
As a stylist, what’s your favourite kind of projects to work on?
While I don’t do too much styling anymore when I was doing it full time I loved working with celebrities or public figures. They bring their own unique energy and style to the project and it’s exciting and contagious to be around.
What are your thoughts on diversity in fashion?
I think the fashion industry has made great strides in championing diversity but I still think it has a long way to go. I’ve seen models covered in freckles or with different skin conditions doing really well. I’ve seen Black models embracing and having a space to wear their natural hair. There are many successful trans models. On one hand, I commend the industry. On the other hand, I’m disappointed that there are still always news stories coming out about little to no diversity on runways or certain types of models still struggling for acceptance and just to have an opportunity to do what they love.
How can we empower women and teach them to love themselves the way they are?
Cultivating self-love and empowering women is a three-part process. The first part comes by celebrating different kinds of beauty and body acceptance so that they can embrace themselves and don’t have to feel like they must fit into very narrow standards of physical beauty. The second part is to reinforce the notion that beauty is not solely rooted in the physical body but dependent on character and the person you are inside. The third part involves going beyond the concept of beauty by acknowledging there are other important things a woman should aspire to such as being intelligent or self-reliant. When you’re able to master those things, loving yourself and being empowered come naturally.
In your opinion, should fashion officially be a part of the culture?
I think fashion is a part of culture, even though it’s often looked at as frivolous or vain. It’s a major part of pop culture and celebrity culture which defines a lot of society. One thing I would like to see is people having more respect for fashion as an art and an industry.
Do you think sustainable fashion is important or no? Why?
I think sustainable practices in all industries are important, especially now more than ever. The fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters and uses so much of the Earth’s resources. It’s important that people at all levels of the industry ask themselves how they can create and enjoy fashion without causing harm to the Earth or the workers that produce it.
What advice would you give to the younger generation of girls growing up in Canada?
In the grand scheme of things, it’s a pretty good time to be Canadian, so if you’re here you should appreciate that and consider yourself lucky. If you aren’t growing up in the midst of war, catastrophe, or hardship then you have the luxury to take your time, find out who you are, and fully develop as a person. Use this privilege as an opportunity to learn about other people so you can begin to understand the world and find your place in it. Be sensitive to marginalized or disadvantaged people. Be sensitive to everyone, even yourself. Spend a lot of time listening but don’t forget to speak up as well. And if you have any interest or skill in science, technology, engineering, or math, please study STEM in post-secondary school because the world has a lot of problems and it needs smart, empathetic people to fix them.
Photography: Margarita Menard
Makeup and Hair: Veronika Polianska
Styled by Bianca Brown
Location: The Atrium at Queen Richmond Centre West