Today is my birthday and I thought it would be a good time to introduce our new series called "Meet a Muse". Through this, we will highlight our muses and have them share their beautiful stories. On my birthday, I get to be a muse so I decided to start the series through a fun Q&A . Hope you will enjoy it.
What is your favorite place in the world?
I would say Saly, Senegal. This is where we went every summer with my family growing up and it’s my happy place in terms of all the beautiful memories we created there. My younger sisters Sokhna and Marieme would go to the beach every morning and help the fisherman with their fishing nets and get offered free fish in return. We ate fresh fried fish every single day. I was friends with the local artisans and they would teach me how to sew simple things like pillows or how to crochet decorative items like flowers.
I associate these summers with a rich creative life, quality time with family, lots of fresh seafood and living on the beach and enjoying the sun. This is the feeling I am constantly chasing after as an adult; I wish I knew at the time that we had it all. Life was so simple.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Eating ice cream in bed and taking naps. I have a very sweet tooth and zero self control with deserts. One stressful days, I calm myself down with bowls of ice cream with decadent toppings from the kitchen shelves (anything from nuts, chocolate bits, coconut flakes, banana, or nutella spread). Eating it in bed makes me feel so proud of myself for breaking all the rules.
My daily guilty pleasure is taking naps. There is something about taking my blanket and going to bed at 2pm that makes me feel so free, regardless of how busy or stressed I am. This is my time to be with myself, and generally the best quality sleep I get. I am generally up and start working from 6am onwards. The afternoon nap allows me to take a break and get some rest and reset for the second part of my day which is generally focused on more creative work from 5pm onwards. Napping has become such a magical part of my day that it has inspired me to always redesign and improve my room as I now view it as my creative restful sanctuary.
What advice you would like people to have given you?
I wish I was encouraged to fail more as a child. Growing up, I was always the top student in school and never took risks because I was afraid to ever fail or be downgraded from my ‘high performer status’. This was very detrimental to my psychee because I always only chose to pursue things I knew I would do well in. All the activities I ever liked or went after were because I had the certitude I wouldn’t fail. I realized at 23, when I was failing miserably on Wall Street, that I was mentally not strong enough to face challenges. I couldn’t really process feeling sub-par or taking risks. It took a life threatening accident and having to start from scratch, from re-learning how to walk, how to eat and how to regain my memory, to realize how important it was to change my mindset around failing.
Today I have been able to build this company through a daily celebration of failures. I have learned to welcome taking risks and to push myself to constantly try new challenges and be comfortable with not always being adequate. I wish I didn’t have to learn all of this the hard way.
A funny fact about you
What I wear to work sometimes surprises my team.
When in California (which 70% of the time)I mostly work from home in onesies, ridiculous pyjamas or monochromatic simple sets. I basically collect sets and some are for night time and some for day time as work uniforms. It’s pretty hilarious because I run a fashion company and I get surprised when the expectation is for me to dress up daily in high heels with hair and makeup, but for me that’s actually the exception. I enjoy my work the most when I feel comfortable and have fun with it. Also, monochromatic sets make it very easy to dress up on demand when needed, I just change from house slippers into cute shoes and throw a bright kimono on. Funny onesies do require some adjustments when I have important video calls.
When in Dakar, I am mostly working with operations in the studio with my mom and the artisans and need to be comfortable. Culturally, I can’t just show up in PJs, so I wear simple traditional maxi dresses with lots of added pockets. I always prioritize comfort over style and in my design work, I try to find the best way to combine both for our muses.
Something most people don’t know about you
I am a trained ballerina and have explored several other dance genres. I started ballet in Senegal at 5 years old and performed until I was 13. We had annual dance shows and would wear the cutest costumes. I then moved on to Hip Hop, African Dance, Latin and Dancehall and started a dance crew in Norway with best friend from Jamaica Chalanie and other good friends Sijie from Malaysia and Dandago from Namibia. We even performed a dancehall choreography for the queen of Norway in 2006. In College I joined a dance crew in Minnesota called Bodacious and we used to have the coolest shows. Now I dance daily as my exercise and still create choreographies for myself. Dancing is my therapy and helps me stay grounded and excited about life in the simplest way.