British/Nigerian Model & Blogger Sandra Aji Speaks to ONB

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Sandra Aji is a 20 year old Nigerian model based in London. She is signed with Edge Models Agency, and if you reside in the UK, you probably would have come across the beauty in places ranging from fashion shows to fashion/hair magazines. With the 5’9 and slim frame, dark brown hair, black eyes and intriguing facial features, you can’t exactly be surprised that her modelling work has expanded over the years. Besides modelling, the pretty lady is also fashion headed; running a fashion blog  FashionShrewd and having style, you gotta love her.

Hi there Sandra, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Hiya! My name is Sandra Ajidahun, Sandra Aji for short as it’s easier to remember. I am from the UK, I live in Essex but I’m originally from Nigeria. I’ve been modelling for just under 2 years now and I’ve also been a wardrobe stylist for about 6 months.  I am insanely obsessed with fashion lol.

Can you tell us about growing up and how modelling came into the picture?

 I grew up with my mother and 4 siblings in Essex for as long as I can remember.  My parents are still together but my father is based in Nigeria due to his business and work commitments.  When it comes to modelling, I know you are expecting me to say I’ve been dreaming of modelling since I was in my mother’s womb, but that isn’t the case; modelling actually never crossed my mind till I was about 18 years old. It was the most random thing. I was just sitting down watching America’s Next Top Model and I thought, I WANT TO DO THAT.!!

 It was a really spontaneous decision. I’ve also been quite spontaneous growing up. Doing things like getting my tongue pierced at a whim and saving up my school dinner money to get my belly button pierced. I’ve got a thing for piercings in case you were wondering lol. I’m looking to get more done soon.

Modelling has really been an amazing route for me. I’m so glad I thought to do it and plucked up the courage to give it a go. I’ve never had a chance to do it full time though, but I like it this way. Gives me a chance to explore other things, like I just launched my online vintage clothing store Vinchi.

What intrigued you about fashion and the modelling world that it captured your interest?

I think it’s safe to say I’M IN LOVE WITH FASHION.!! Seriously, I love it. I can shop all day and night and not break a sweat. I can read about 150 fashion magazines without getting bored. I love the creativity behind the clothes, I love how people in fashion seem to conform to the latest trend, yet they all tend to have their own individual sense of style. It’s simply beautiful to look at.

What was it like when you first started modelling, and how did you handle pressure?

When I started modelling, I was a bit naïve about the industry. I think I didn’t understand the extent of how shallow and critical it could be. It was when I had my first shoot, and sent some of the pictures to agencies, and got turned down:  that is when I started to think, “Is there something wrong with me?”. I believe to get through it you just have to grow a thick skin. If you don’t let comments get to you and you don’t let harsh words affect you, if you simply brush it off and keep looking forward, believe me YOU WILL COME OUT ON TOP.

What major works have you partaken in?

I’ve been lucky enough to model for House of Fraser, SAKS hair academy, JOSH Hair Salon, Front Cover of Zen Magazine, Voice Newspaper, Front Cover of BBC Focus on Africa Magazine and right now, I’m featured on ASOS.

From your perspective, what is it like to be a black model?

To be honest with you, when I started modelling, I didn’t really think about that aspect of things. I just thought I WANT TO BE A MODEL. I didn’t think about the downsides to it and what obstacles it could throw at me. But I think it’s safe to say that being a black model in this industry is very DIFFERENT to being a white model. I try not be play the race card or blame any of my problems on being black. I believe we are all equals in the eyes of God, and therefore no one is better than anyone else. We all have the ability to achieve whatever we want, despite our skin colour. However, as a black model, you do face more problems and criticism in this industry. The media has portrayed being white as the ideal beauty. This misconception means, a lot of clients would rather pick a white model to do the job rather than you. As a black model, you have to go the extra mile to prove why you can do the job just as good, or even better. You have to prove to them that BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL.

Do you see the situation of minimal black models on the runways, campaigns, editorials changing, and how do you think it can improve?

I still think there is not a lot black models featured in major campaigns. It’s really sad to see. And when they are, it tends to be the same faces, Chanel Iman, Jourdan Dunn, Sessilee Lopez and so on. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with them, in fact I love them. But I just wish more chances were given to up and coming black models. I’m not necessarily saying it has to be me. Not at all. But I’ve worked with and met so many stunning black models who are still struggling to make a mark in the industry. It really is a shame.

How far in modeling would you like to go?

To be honest, I don’t want to put a limit to what I want to achieve in modeling, but I definitely want to go further. Campaigns, bill boards, front covers, the whole lot. I want it all! Yes, I’m greedy like that lol.

Any other pursuits in the modeling/fashion world that you would like to go for?

I’m also a wardrobe stylist and apart from modelling, I’m also incredibly passionate about this. I love being able to put different pieces together and create a new look. I’ve styled shoots for people like Demur Magazine. You can check out some of my styling work at Model Mayhem

Who is or are your favourite models and why?

There are quite a few models that I admire, so to pick a favourite one would be torture.  I love chanel Iman’s face; her features are simply divine, same with sessile lopez.  Also, Naomi Campbell’s presence on the catwalk is a force to be reckoned with and at her age, she looks amazing. There are so many great models out there, I would like to think I can squeeze into that category too, who knows. But as far as I’m concerned, the sky is the limit.

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