Who says fashion isn't smart?
A New Jersey-based model, Boshia proves the naysayers wrong in every way.
Eight years in the game, Boshia is verified. She has already worked with Refinery 29, Cover FX, and modeled for Nike, but it is clear to see this is only the beginning for the unapologetic beauty. Boshia focused on grooming her pioneering style to help offset her 5'5 height - a frame that could sometimes be considered a disadvantage for models.
Art influences every aspect of this millennial model's path. Her first introduction to expressing herself through art was dance. That said, there were always instruments lying around her childhood home. "My mom was a dance mom. She has had me in dance since the age of three," states Boshia. This formal training is evident in her modeling movements. "It helps me stand upright and to be confident in my skin," she noted.
Using art as a form of education and a foundational tool is a winning combination. Exposure to art is a passion project for the East Coast afro-futurist. She believes access to art programs from a young age will spark children's' curiosity and strengthen early childhood development. Boshia also thinks it can identify educational development challenges.
When asked about the disparity of art programs in school, Boshia replied, "I don't blame the teachers. It's a Board Of Education issue - they may need to bring more art teachers into the space to help." She feels this has a direct correlation to how much enjoyment children find in early academia. Ensuring kids from the African diaspora have art and, more specifically, music in their curriculum is essential to the multitalented model. "Art helps to mold a person mentally," said Boshia.
Though the rapper, educator, entrepreneur fully embraces her uniqueness - is fashion ready for this dynamic combination? Can the industry adequately welcome a Muslim woman practicing modesty?
Boshia revealed instances when the casting director was unaware that she was a modest Muslim. Clear communication from the model's agency could prevent these instances in the future. Companies have explicitly said to Boshia, "Oh, do you wear that normally," or blatantly expecting her to remove the hijab. Boshia wants other models that hold the same faith and morals to not feel intimidated by standing their ground. She is paving the way, so that other hijabi women are not encouraged to pose in overtly sexual stances, asked to skip breaks for prayer, or request to remove their hijab.
"I've had to bring plenty of items to shoots," said Boshia because there were not any modest pieces provided.
Representing modesty in fashion may not only be culturally relevant and essential for diversity - but it is also economical. In an article published by the Independent UK in April 2019, it states, "The State of the Global Islamic Economy predicts that the market could be worth more than £226bn." Boshia remarked on modest Muslims wearing more clothing, "We cover more so we need more garments."
Her business, OPPYMCO (stands for Operation Young Muslimah Corporation), offers brand consultations to companies looking to work with modest Muslims. OPPYMCO teaches proper etiquette and instructs clients of the necessary supplies on set as well as providing styling services. It is also a fashion brand cornering the market on Modest Afrofuturistic Street Wear. "We are on a mission to help young Muslim women feel comfortable in their skin, but not in a way that makes them feel like they're blending in because they are different - they are unique," said Boshia.
Exploring her African roots is a critical piece of Boshia's identity. "My dad would tell me, 'you're not just black - you're African,'" said Boshia.
Afrofuturism's official definition, according to Merriam Webster, is a movement in literature, music, art, etc., featuring futuristic or science fiction themes that incorporate elements of black history and culture. Boshia takes researching black inventions and black history seriously. She finds that it perfectly offsets America's depictions of black persons. "America has been demonizing black people - and only utilizing black people to sell something or to make a political statement," exclaims Boshia.
The artist still feels the void of the "African Diaspora" in the fashion industry. "We need more everywhere," exclaims Boshia. She then hones in on stylists noting she usually sees Black styling assists on shoots but never as the main talent.
She also indicates how crucial black makeup artists are. "I know how I am supposed to look," declares Boshia. Her delicate features and glowing complexion are a notable part of her brand. She even shared a tip to achieve her signature fresh look. "Everything is raw and organic," said Boshia. She instructs we use Aloe Vera masks overnight. After you get out of the shower and your pores are open, apply the natural plant serum to combat hyperpigmentation and acne and, overall, heal the skin.
The makeup disparity for black models at shoots inspired her to create her own cosmetics line debuting this fall. "I want to connect more women with their inner beauty," smiles Boshia. The six-year project Boshia Cosmetics is organic and caters to melanin blessed beauties.*
Though she is on the path of being an icon, she is inspired by some of the greats. Supermodels Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Iman, and Beverly Johnson are the blueprints for Boshia's modeling chops. "People don't know this, but Whitney Houston was a model at one point, and she had this amazing being about her...and she's from New Jersey," boasts Boshia. When pertaining to fashion tastemakers, she admires the works of African American fashion designer Laquan Smith. And of course, ANTM was most influential in inspiring Boshia to pursue her modeling career.
In every phase, Boshia's number one goal is to guide the fashion industry into equal representation. "I want to inspire others that want to model or try to dress more modestly, as women it should be our choice to dress how we want to dress, not something that is marketed to us," reiterates Boshia.
The educator and art connoisseur wants to leave readers with this challenge "What would Africa's future look like if we all worked together with all of our knowledge?"
*Available for sale on her website fall 2020