How Amani struggled to become her true self

 
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Having been born with Sickle Cell Anemia, Amani doesn’t let it determine who she is and still finds clarity in who she really is and transforms into a fashion forward being.  

How was your childhood growing up? Was there anything different that stood out to you during this time? 

Growing up, I dealt with struggling to be myself and wanting to be liked by every single person. I basically morphed into whoever I was around because I didn’t have my own identity. I wanted to be what seemed like the “popular” thing at the time so I went through a lot of phases that didn’t seem to fit me. I believe I did this because I didn’t want people to know who I truly was behind closed doors: science loving, book worm with Sickle Cell anemia. I dealt with people teasing me about it in my past so I just quit telling people after a while and disguised myself as different people to keep from dealing with my true self. 

Having Sickle-Cell Anemia, how do you keep going? Where do you find the strength? What advice would you give to others who are battling as well and who are not open to talking about it? 

Unfortunately, I've had Sickle Cell since birth; I’ve been dealing with it for 23 years. I'm not the type of person to sugarcoat things and it’s so hard dealing with it. From being teased when I was younger until now, it’s been a process of acceptance and being unapologetic. I’ve dated guys who'd just vanish as soon as I became comfortable telling them about my diagnosis, and I experienced friends who threw it back in my face after a fall out so my trust was a little shaky. Now with my growing platforms, I’m becoming more confident about speaking on Sickle Cell. I’m more comfortable in my skin and I want to be the voice for us Sicklers because no one is advocating for us. My strength alone comes from my support system of my family and friends. Also, knowing that I can use my voice to speak for the people who don’t want to open up about it, gives me so much motivation! 

My advice would to those not ready to open up about it is: someone is going through exactly what you’re going through. Your testimony can help others. We’re not in this alone, even though it seems like it but we are a family and we support each other even if no one else will. 

How do you feel about Comcast, Verizon and ATT having the option to increase the cost of services so that we can use social media sites, Google and YouTube? Do you think it will affect businesses? 

I think it’s insane, along with everything else that has occurred since November 8, 2016. First of all, Comcast is already high as the sky... I had to end my contract with them early. I feel like this is another way for us to be controlled. With the many movements that started via social media, it’s almost like this is there way of shutting it all down. It’s disheartening because this is our voice... our opinions on what’s going on in our lives and they just want to brush it under the rug. 

I do think businesses will be greatly affected. We use social media and website building sites like GoDaddy and Square Space to run our businesses, and anyone who has an online business already pay monthly fees for these features. It’s just ridiculous that we're being forced to pay more. 

What do you think about 2017 fashion overall? What looks were your favorite? 

The fashion in 2017 was so amazing! I absolutely loved it because there wasn’t just one decade we focused on. We reinvented 70’s looks to early 2000’s looks. I think 2017 was truly a year of self-expression. My favorite look would have to be the sweatpants and heels. It sounds crazy but I actually loved the way people like Kim Kardashian and Teyana Taylor pulled it off. I’m a huge fan of wearing sweat pants but I hate that people associate it with laziness so this trend lets me be stylish and comfortable at the same time! In addition, menswear turned into womenswear looks and I love menswear! I usually go thrifting in the men’s section and turn it into a throwback Aaliyah or Teyana look! My last favorite trend is the palazzo pants! Like I said before I love being comfortable and cute. Palazzo pants are super girly but extremely comfortable at the same time and they look like you put in some effort when you wear them even on a lazy day. 

 You're currently working on your fashion styling company, what should we expect?

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Are you looking for help and if so, what kind? Yes, my styling and designing company, AB Fashion House! I would say just expect innovation. I’m all about setting trends and breaking the norms and Fashion allows me to express myself in that sense. I don’t like following the societal norms and that might be the Pisces in me lol! We’re creating looks, visuals and campaigns to set a new tone for 2018 and so on. We are looking for help! We currently have two positions available: campaign manager and designer/creative director. 

When did you become aware of your passion for fashion? Is there anything else you would like to get involved in? 

I first got into fashion my 11th grade year of high school. I would help with the makeup and styling for our annual fashion shows. Then I went into fashion marketing, fashion writing, and fashion buying. I studied a variety of fashion related careers to understand them all and be well rounded in case I ever needed to work in that field. I started off designing shirts and hated it. I hated the whole concept of sketching out my ideas because I just couldn’t get what I saw in my head on paper (I’m a terrible artist). So, I started styling and doing creative direction and fell in love with it. Creating photo shoot sets, pulling from designers and putting outfits together came so naturally. I think the next thing I’d want to get into would be the healthy food industry. I know that’s far off from fashion but I’m a huge foodie and I want to eat a lot healthier. As a black woman, we have a higher risk for many diseases. I’ve witnessed friends develop diabetes in high school because of their way of eating. As for me having sickle cell, the way I eat has a huge impact on the frequency and severity of my crisis. Therefore, learning about healthy food and natural medicine is a field I’d love to eventually get into. 

What are a few goals you have for 2018 and what should we expect from you? 

Wow, for 2018 I have so many goals but my top three other than launching my brands would be: speak at more events/take motivational speaking more seriously, get deeper into the arts/switch up the art scene and travel. This year will be my breakthrough year. I want to expand my horizons while running a successful business. This year you should expect a lot of culture from me. 2018 is going to be about finding my balance and expansion! I can’t wait to share it with you. 


To learn more about Amani and her brand, follow her on Instagram @itsjstAB and @theabfashionhouse

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