12 Nov INTERVIEW WITH MODEL NAOMI KAJI
Meet Naomi Kaji, i.e. FlowerChild, the North London unsigned model creeping up on the industry at a quick pace. With features in Notion Magazine, London Fashion Week, featured in the Selfridges AW16 Campaign and has recently become the face of Puma Xtreme Women’s apparel campaign. Here she is discussing the racial injustice in the industry and her future plans.
Now before we get delve further into this interview, how did you adopt the nickname of ‘Flower child’?
I woke up one day and realised how beautiful, special & unique I am. Why the name ” flower “? Because in my world flowers remind me of the beauty of coloured women; how much I don’t care about people’s opinions, they’re not facts! Flowers are also unique there’s no other that looks like them.
You have a very unique and beautiful look, do you feel that identity and fashion unite together?
They unite together depending on how far you take it… Many people who do what I do struggle to unite within the industry because they forget to be themselves and break the rules. There are 0 rules within this industry, therefore nothing is impossible but it’s down to you whether you want to change the game or just stay stuck in the mud like the rest of the sheep.
How did you start modelling? And were you always interested in becoming one?
It was so random because I was into music & business during secondary school, then some random day I was watching something to do with black women within the industry and it was upsetting to see. So I decided that I was going to become a model, do things my way, change the game and become a trendsetter.
Being a black model in this industry, what is your outlook on the diversity within the modelling world?
I think it’s just ridiculous.
It’s 2016, MUA’s & hairstylist still struggle to deal with our complexion and hair? It doesn’t make any sense to me because to me you’re not none of the two if you can’t do one simple job.
I feel like many black models are scared to state their opinion and stand up for their rights just because of this so called ” rule ” that doesn’t exist, and also because they don’t want to be given a bad name. The industry makes it seem like you have to do certain things when you really don’t. They’re playing with our heads and it’s time for every one of us to put a stop it, but if no one is doing it, how do we expect things to change?
Many of us have been complaining about the diversity within the industry but do nothing about and continue follow what they ” have to offer”.
Having said that, have you ever experienced any prejudice?
Oh yes of course! I had a shoot with this brand from Germany and the designer didn’t know what to do with my hair so she asked if I will be ok with shaving my hair. Now that ticked me off because to me that was an insult, especially because she knew what she was going to do with the Caucasian models but me.
The MUA was getting frustrated because she didn’t have foundation that matched my skin, and had the audacity to tell me to purchase foundation for all my upcoming shoots because it stresses them out as they don’t usually buy darker shades of foundation.
Long story short, I left the shoot.
Do you think that there are any brands that are possibly more ahead than others diversity-wise? Also, what is your opinion on the diversity and creativity in London?
In terms of up and coming brands there definitely is plenty, but for those who are currently big within the game, it’s a no for me unfortunately.
The diversity in London is way better than the diversity in the U.S for sure. Everyone is more free to do what they want and recently so much black people have succeeded in what they’ve always want to.
The creativity in London is so amazing and strong, there’s nothing more I can say but those two words.
Rihanna recently wore the same outfit you wore in a shoot shot by Béni Masiala, how did that make you feel?
Now that was so shocking for me to even see! It’s crazy how far my work goes.
Seeing that made me realise how many people across the world are watching my work and it makes me feels so proud of myself; knowing that I’ve accomplished many things without being signed is such an amazing thing to know, especially because I was raised in Tottenham.
Do you know how it feels to know that you’re the first girl from Tottenham to become a successful model without no agent? I don’t think anyone understands but my people back in the ends. That is God’s work.
And finally, what are your goals for the next two years?
My goal in the next two years is to become a successful international model and to build a massive platform for coloured women.
I have been a huge supporter of Naomi for a while now, and have the utmost respect and admiration for her. Her work ethic and dedication is hugely admirable and I wish her only the best.
Featured image courtesy of Puma