Today we’d like to introduce you to Ayomide Adeduro.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Ayomide. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Growing up in a strict Nigerian household, my parents prioritized financial stability over individual purpose when choosing a career. “No tuition unless you study medicine. Your other options are engineering or law,” they told me. I was boxed into believing that these routes were the only ways to find success. Deep down inside, I knew I wanted to challenge their provincial ideologies, as I’ve always had a love for the arts – specifically fashion. I had always enjoyed taking pictures and being in front of the camera despite not fully being confident in my Black skin. One day, one of my friends in high school who was pursuing photography, reached out to me and asked me if she could shoot with me for a school project. I said yes. The confidence I felt when I started posing in front of her camera was profound. I decided this was something that I wanted to do for a long time. So, I stuck with it. Before I knew it, I became a fashion model posting pictures and sharing messages about beauty, even when I hadn’t fully grasped those concepts myself. As Instagram has a plethora of utilities, I use it to inspire women to love their dark skin and embark on the self-love journey with me. Here, representation of dark skin is valued, and deviation from beauty norms are supported.
Within a year, I received nearly 200 messages from people saying I inspired them. Nolly from South Africa had messaged me saying, “Looking at your pictures makes me proud of being dark… they motivate and help me be strong.” This compelled me to take modeling to a larger scale. Beyond my comfort zone, I ventured into a high-fashion runway, commercial photoshoots, and magazine editorials to expand my impact. While doing so, I earned my first dollar. As modeling helped me generate my seed income, I invested back into it and witnessed my media engagement increase by 88% and website clicks by 15%. What started with a picture in front of a camera turned into a business, a brand, and an inspiration for women of color across the globe. At the very palm of my hands, I curated an online, globally-connected environment where melanin of all shades was valued.
Beyond my online platform, many girls inquired how to penetrate the fashion industry. To be more accessible as a businesswoman, I engaged with my audience by starting ”Modeling with Mide” which is a series of model workshops in which I mentor young girls on how to penetrate the fashion industry, start their own modeling career, develop their brand image, and profitably utilize their creative talents. Today, I am planning an annual Bootcamp for aspiring fashion models to teach them how to start modeling and manage their own business endeavors. I envision people of all shades, backgrounds, and sizes coming together to immerse themselves in an environment where they are not only loved and supported but where they can turn their passion for fashion/art into something tangible.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Because modeling is something I love to do, it’s easy for me to stick with it. However, there have been struggles along the way–some of which include getting rejected to agencies. Sometimes, it takes a hit of my confidence because it hurts to keep hearing “Sorry, but you’re not a fit” from higher-ups. But, I know even the greats had to go through many rejections. My advice to not only other women but also to myself is to “Keep exercising your youthful passions, and hustle until you get the results you first dreamed of.”
What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I would say I’m known for my positive energy and enthusiastic spirit. I embody the meaning of my name. Ayomide. Ī-yō-mē-dāy. Meaning: “My joy has come” in Yoruba. Origin: Nigeria. When you say my name, you verbally manifest joy into your life, but I have also made it my mission to have a positive spirit that is felt, literally, by everyone I meet. What sets me apart from others is my genuine desire to help others and give them the resources I wish I had when I was first starting modeling. My utmost goal is to make others find joy just as I have.
I currently am the model director for FAST (Fashion and student trends) at Cal. Outside of school, I am also a model mentor, and I host workshops for aspiring models. My first workshop included tips on how to get started with modeling, boost your confidence, network with local creatives, and a personalized photo-shoot with one-on-one coaching from me. I have been modeling for over three years and I am so glad that people value my work to the point that they would pay to come hear me talk and receive modeling tips from me. I am most proud of bringing my workshop to life because it is an idea I have had for over a whole year. I hope to expand my impact globally.
For good reason, society often focuses more on the problems rather than the opportunities that exist, because the problems need to be solved. However, we’d probably also benefit from looking for and recognizing the opportunities that women are better positioned to capitalize on. Have you discovered such opportunities?
Women can do absolutely anything they put their mind to. I believe that there is an abundance of opportunities, you just have to actively seek them.