It’s without a doubt that women are the juice and power behind every creative industry. From content creators on YouTube, to Marketing, PR and even A&R. Ladies are taking the reins of the boardrooms and social platforms, building empires and saving careers with a nurturing touch.
It’s only right that we shine a light on that. As a guy, I’m interested myself, and I’m sure there are many girls yet to hear the stories of these unsung heroes. It’s surprising women still don’t always get their just due. Black women, for example, are the most educated demographic in the USA, but will have to work an extra seven months to earn the same as a white man. In the UK, there’s a 19.6% wage gap between a full-time working white man and a black woman. Crazy…
Wages aren’t a true reflection of how much women bring to the table in any industry, especially BME women. Sharing their stories showcases their value and their influence, and it demands the equality they deserve. Let’s start the dialogue…
One woman killing the game in styling and fashion is Tiwa Jenyo. She’s the sauce behind our culture, styling both men and women from Bonkaz, Tiwa Sawage, Not3s, Cadet, Kojo Funds and The Compozers. Tiwa wins because of her fun and vibrant energy, gaining the trust of new artists who are only starting to branch into fashion. A stylist can easily pick garms, but they always have to match the clients vibe, mood, vision. The styling lifestyle is not all rosy, and definitely not for the faint-hearted, and Tiwa sets the record straight. Read her two cents on the gritty grind of the fashion industry, her inspirations and her new podcast “Dear Girls” with Youtuber Aaliyahmariabee.
In her first style shoot with Nation of Billions, Tiwa teams up with fast-rising fashion photographer Philipp Raheem, and tells us about her style concept, “There are very few photographers I admire and Philipp Raheem has to be one of my top 5 favourite photographers. Between his use of colour and his model choices I find his work very captivating and almost poetic in its own context. For this coming season especially in the current state of the world where everyone seems to be depressed or angry, I think it’s really important to add colour to your clothes, even if the colours are subtle. Blues, yellows and greens work well together and can subtly improve your mood – and I’m all about the feel good factor. I think style is going back to that fun place again – where colours and patterns will be taking focus this A/W.”
So how did you get into the fashion industry?
I actually started out years ago with an online platform called StyleRevo and focused purely on music and fashion. Say for example you were watching a Drake music video, whatever he was in, Style Revo would give you the high street alternative. I produced online episodes and created “Get the Look” videos. I featured stylists who have created looks for Justin Bieber, Little Mix, Zara Larsson and Chris Brown to name a few. I would have to pull all the clothes and I think that’s when my journey truly began…that and the fact I was pregnant with my second child and thought, “If I’m going to have the career I have always wanted then it’s time to risk it all and work the hardest I ever have”…
You definitely know what works for artists …but how would you describe your personal style?
I work virtually everyday and more time (sic) you will catch me on either a music video set, photo shoot set, PR runs, meetings or shopping, so I’m really trying to keep myself comfortable and minimal. When I’m working I’m pretty much in jeans, t shirt/crop top, jacket, trainers or a fly tracksuit. But when it comes to my social life – I come alive and I do put in effort. I look to muses like Solange, and an artist called MAAD, this contemporary funk/soul artist that I just adore…her style is fun and eclectic.
Girls, like yourself, are the driving force behind the culture right now…from the Grime scene to Afrobeats. How does it make you feel knowing that?
I can’t lie, I work so hard to be recognised and all my hard work is now starting to make a lot of sense. Those nights when I wasn’t sure whether this was the right path taken. Or when paid work was few and scarce… it’s now paying off in tenfolds. It feels amazing to be recognised as a female who contributes to a culture and can set trends for the scene. Style is so key within music, it can symbolise so much, so it’s great that it’s recognised as something that is integral in our scene.
How do you forge good relationships with your clients? Run us through some recent experiences
When it comes to my male clients, they are more like my brothers. I say brothers because… there has to be this trust that is built between us. It sometimes surpasses that basic stylist and client situation. They are inevitably trusting their image with me, which plays a large part of their overall brand. So, when I say “This will bang” and Cadet isn’t too sure – he will at least give it a try and more times will like what I have pulled for him. Great relationships are so key when introducing clients to new trends, helps them get used to your ideas quicker.
When I styled Not3s for the Pause Magazine Editorial, he was so easy going it made styling him very enjoyable. The whole idea was for the styling to be cool but still be tastefully colourful. I love the Iceberg ‘Bang’ jumper because of the bold colours and the slim fit cut. The dusty pink 3 piece from New County is what I think every man needs in his wardrobe… pastel pink is very hot right now. My favourite look was the Blood Brother suede jacket with a vest, topped off with Android Homme trainer boots (available at Made Man London). Those boots were too amazing not just because of the colour, but the design… They really are conversation starters.
Give us 5 key trends men should take note of this season
This summer the rules have slightly changed. While most guys have finally got comfortable with slim/skinny jeans it’s time to go back to the wider leg trousers and cropped too. Some get it and a lot don’t right now – but trust me it will start to filter through. The colours for men this season are a lot softer too, a lot more pastels are coming in which work on most skin tones. Clothing with embellishments especially on jackets is definitely in this season with a huge nod from Gucci. We’re now seeing so many high street and high end streetwear options…
Most importantly, tell us more about your new podcast with Aliyahmariabee, Dear Girls…
So ‘Dear Girls’ is a podcast that focuses on an older and younger perspective on life, so be it relationships, work, social media, school, we discuss all things girls talk about in their private time. For me personally ‘Dear Girls’ is a podcast that I imagine my daughters can listen to when they much older (they’re only 9 and 5 now). It helps me re-live some of my wilder and sillier moments in life, as well as talking about how I navigate through adulthood now, whether it be my career, dating or everyday life observations. I love doing the podcast with Aliyah because she is carefree and I love the way she breathes new life in me every time we link up, and I love how confident she is no matter what. I think it is important to show unity within womanhood no matter what age you are.
What message do you have for girls on their way up in fashion or PR industry?
This industry has the perception of being fun and an easy past time. Now while it is fun, it is far from easy and requires a lot of manual labour, some business knowledge (especially maths), great communication skills and good organisation. You really have to push yourself and not be deterred when obstacles come your way because these industries can be tough but very rewarding when you put in the work. As a young female: put in those hours, don’t accept no, be creative, create a productive routine, be reliable and just do the job no matter what – that’s my best advice.