Student and blogger dares to be different
From the strands of her hair to the shoes on her feet, Shantia Seymour thrives on unconventional choices.
The 22-year-old student and blogger has just completed her diploma at the London College of Style after fighting her family for the freedom to stray from traditional education.
She hopes her story will inspire others to do the same.
“Originally, I went to Canada to study business, but I didn't fit in at all. It's not really where my passion was,” she said.
“They wanted me to pick a career path that was more traditional, so I found a way to incorporate international business and fashion to make everyone happy.”
She said that growing up her career choices weren't celebrated “but I took the chance and relocated to the UK on my own without ever stepping foot in the country before”.
While obtaining her international business and fashion styling degree she also interned for a PR agency.
“I started making clothes for my dolls and then I started making clothes for myself. I would go to parties and people would say, ‘I love your outfits, where did you get that from?'
“Everyone started to love my funky fashion sense.
“I didn't really match,” she laughed, motioning to her floral shoes. “That's how it started.”
She admits to being self-taught for the most part. “My grandmother gave me a mini sewing machine and kit and it went from there. I started interning everywhere — [Bermuda designer] Rene Hill, she's my cousin; Patrice Morgan for Showoff Magazine; [New York stylist] Shiona Turini. When I was in high school I was her intern. Even if it wasn't paid, if a fashion production was happening, I would ask if they needed help just so I could get the experience. I took in every single thing I could.”
She arrived in the UK last September, just in time for London Fashion Week. She took advantage of the spectacle and “made loads of connections”.
The ex-Berkeleyite is keen to share her experiences through her blog, which has gained 3,000 followers.
It's part style document, part “inspire diary”. The enthusiastic photographer reveals her “week-to-week” looks, travel experiences and journal entries.
Earlier this month, she hosted a networking event at Elbow Beach. The proceeds will go towards a personal project, the Aiyanna Art Scholarship. Ms Seymour plans to award it to “a deserving student pursuing a career in any aspect of the arts”.
“The name Aiyanna is the Native American word meaning ever blooming or growing and I feel that that's exactly what art is,” she said.
The event brought all ages.
“I remember this one little girl said she wanted to be a fashion girl when she gets older. I gave her balloons and her mom made a big donation. It was really nice to see who I inspire. In my contact column on my blog, they tell me how much I inspire them with my story and just going for it.
“I tell them, ‘Sometimes you have to get uncomfortable to get comfortable'.”
Ms Seymour organised the entire Elbow Beach event herself. A drop box filled with clothes was donated to the Women's Resource Centre and there was a mini fashion show with local designers Desiree Riley and Chaela Perinchief.
“I'd been thinking about it for a very long time and in London I just brought it together. I ran it by Shiona. She said it was an awesome idea so I went for it.”
Her current employer, Urban Cottage also made a donation. Ms Seymour said she wants to hold the event annually, to support the arts and her new scholarship.
“Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone,” she added. “The first post I did was when I was watching America's Next Top Model. They had a challenge and they had to rock a flaw: big lips or a big nose or freckles.
“I noticed that I had five out of the six flaws, but as time went on I learnt they are not flaws at all.”
Her flaw? A gap between her two front teeth.
She said: “When I was younger I never liked to smile and then, when I started to model, all the fashion people would say, ‘Oh, my goodness, your gap is so nice. Open your mouth!'”
She was shocked. Now her business card displays the mantra: “Every flaw is just an accessory waiting to be rocked”. The idea is to remind herself and others to practice self-love.
“So many people don't love themselves,” she said. “Non-traditional career paths are slowly becoming more accepted. I feel it is important for people to go for their dreams, regardless of how crazy they may seem — everyone deserves a chance.
“I remember how hard it was to make my dreams happen and want to give back to my beautiful little island home.”
• For more information, visit www.dressedtoati.net