Never feeling as though she fit into the beauty standard growing up, CEO and Founder Josiane Modjom decided it was time to take action against the limited standard of beauty in the fashion world. Through her networking platform Malia Indigo, she’s building a community and safe space for fashion professionals of all diversities so they can connect, collaborate, work, and ultimately help redefine the industry’s ideals.
We chatted with Josiane about diversity in the fashion and beauty world and how she’s hoping to change the status quo.
What does diversity in fashion mean to you?
It means everything. There is beauty in diversity. There’s beauty in our differences. We need to show that there really shouldn’t be an industry standard and that we are all beautiful. Someone growing up never feeling pretty enough or intimidated because they aren’t a size two or four is something that needs to change for the upcoming generations. Brands and designers need to to be inclusive of all sizes and need to showcase all kinds of women–starting on the runway and in their campaigns. Diversity should be fundamental in the fashion industry because the fashion industry should represent all of us, not just one portion of the world.
How did you go from the finance and accounting industry to the fashion industry?
During my childhood, I struggled with my own identity. Growing up it was very difficult for me to accept myself because I didn’t look like any of the females on the television or in the movies. So even though my education major is in accounting, I felt that my personal experience growing up needed to be spoken about and that this underrepresentation needed to change.
As I spoke more openly about my identity issue, I realized I was helping inspire and motivate people to be more inclusive. Not only that, but I soon realized that I was not the only one going through this and feeling this way. It took me many years to heal and to accept myself and be confident in who I am. As my personal confidence grew, I wanted to help people feel confident in their skin as well. I knew the best way to do this would be to share my story and get in front of people, so I decided to become a model.
I signed with an agency and quickly realized that my motivation and confidence wasn’t enough for me to succeed in the fashion industry. Why? Because the beauty standards simply did not encompass and accept who I am.
I am a curvy woman–signing contracts to be part of big runways and campaigns was extremely difficult because of this. I realized there is a huge gap in the industry and ultimately a lack of visibility for people who do not fall into that slim standard.
That’s when I decided to turn my modelling career into a business. My goal was to break the status quo and fill that gap by providing resources and tools to those who are not heard and represented in this industry. Malia Indigo is for more than just curvy women though, it’s for everyone who doesn’t have a voice–no matter their size, the colour of their skin, their sexual orientation, their gender identity, or otherwise.
Can you tell us about your company, the Malia Indigo Corporation?
Malia Indigo is a Canadian company based in Toronto–it’s also my modelling name. The focus of the company is on fashion and the main purpose is to provide visibility to underrepresented fashion professionals.
The platform provides a community and a safe space for people who are not well represented in the industry, connecting them with brands and other professionals who support our beliefs.
People in the community can sign up as a designer, model, blogger, photographer or make-up artist. By creating a personal profile, individuals gain access to networking events, fashion shows, and media campaigns. Their profiles showcase who they are and what their talent is; our purpose is to bring eyes onto them and help create opportunities for all.
The fashion industry won’t change overnight, but the more we are united, the more people will see us, and the more the industry will grow to be inclusive and representative of everyone.
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