The fashion industry seems to be all about the glam and the modeling part of it looks like a platform for pretty ladies to get famous. But this industry has more to it than meets the eye. This week we caught up with the reigning Miss. Kenyatta University to tell us about her story, her projects and what it takes to succeed in this glamorous industry.
- What is your full name and how old are you?
Mary Mwihaki Njogu. I am 21 years old pursuing a degree in finance.
- What is a typical day/week like for you?
Waking up, going to class, taking photos and organizing events especially visiting children’s homes.
What does it take to become a model in Kenya?
I’ve been a model for 3 years now. What I have learnt is that all it takes is standing out. You just have to stand out and not necessarily having to be beautiful. It’s not just about your face, you have to be intelligent and being extra good at what you’re doing.
- Do you have any upcoming projects?
Yes. There’s one. It’s called the SmileChild initiative. I plan for it to be a long-term project whereby I’ll use fashion as the catalyst to raising awareness and tackle child abuse. Through the project, we’ll be conducting an annual fashion event whereby designers and models will be coming together and use the platform to showcase their designs and the models showcasing their talents. Throughout the year we’ll be conducting door to door campaigns as well as going to schools, especially primary schools, with our target being children between the ages of 5 to 13 years. Then through the event we’ll also get the opportunity to show our sponsors the far we’ll have come with our project.
What are your career goals in the fashion industry?
My career goal is to establish my own fashion house. I am hoping that as time goes by, even as I conduct the annual smilechild event, we can employ permanent designers and fashion models and for it to grow into something big that someone would be proud of associating with.
- Other than modeling is there any other thing you do?
Yes. I laugh. I skate but I’ve stopped. I used to roller-skate but nowadays I opt for ice skating instead as I get less injuries compared to roller skating. I used to get very many scars and as a model I shouldn’t be having that many scars. But I still love skating. I also love reading novels.
- What’s the strangest thing that has ever happened to you on the runway?
I am yet to encounter something I would term as strange on the runway. Nothing worth remembering that’s strange. Basically at the end of the day you’re doing it alone. Even if you get confused no one has to know as long as you just stand out even in your confusion.
- Best Career moment so far?
Anytime I get the opportunity to bring people together; to see the children smile and just knowing that it’s me, my friends and people that believe in me. That’s the best thing that happens to me.
How does it feel being Ms. KU?
To be honest, before I became the reigning miss I thought it was a big deal. But I am just the normal me. It just feels nice. The people around me feel that I’m the miss but I feel like I’m just the same Mwihaki that I’ve always known. Maybe just the responsibilities of that come with the crown but other than that it just feels normal. Nothing extraordinary.
- Since being crowned as Ms. KU how has it affected your modeling career? Positively or negatively?
Becoming Miss KU has given me a great platform. As a reigning Miss I get to have a voice. When I get an opportunity to approach someone to tell them I want to do this for my project they’ll listen to me more keenly than listening to just anybody else.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced so far as a model?
Corruption within the industry especially on the runway side of modeling. I am just hoping that as time goes by things will change. You get to do a runway event and the organizers don’t really appreciate you, they misuse you and at the end of the day it doesn’t seem all worth it. In as much as they give you exposure one deserves more for being part of the event’s success.
- What are typical mistakes people make when trying to pursue this career?
Getting into it for the fame. That’s the worst mistake you can make when you want to become a model.
- What’s your biggest inspiration in life?
Myself. I just want to be great. I want to be the person that makes a difference. I want to be the voice that can be heard. If I will become the voice that’ll be able to stop child abuse then that will be my biggest accomplishment in life.
- How Do You Handle Mistakes on the runway?
Just be you and do you. Don’t be controlled by the standards that people set for you.
What personal advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue this career?
What do you love doing? You can be a face model, a hand model… what’s your money maker if I can put it that way. It just depends on your interests.
- Any final words?
Everyone should love what they are doing. Just be you and never forget who you are and what you want in life. And that should be enough to get you wherever you want to go. Always have a long term go. Don’t see yourself tomorrow and the obstacles you’re facing today. Always think of what you want in 5 years and slowly you’ll get there.