Justin Shema describes himself as a deeply creative and courageous being. He is a product of love; growing up in an affectionate family has taught him how to cherish relationships. He thrives around people and enjoys great music. Having six sisters spurred him into a dynamic growth, making him a person who is open to varied perspectives.
Born in Kigali, Rwanda- fondly called the ‘land of a thousand hills’. He describes it vividly: it is an impeccably beautiful country; dotted with fascinating savannah, undulating hills and deep valleys, abundant wildlife and natural aesthetics.
SHEMA is a young passionate client support communication specialist who currently works as a customer care executive at Rwanda Online Platform Ltd.
His greatest passions are fashion, culture and arts. Previously he co-founded a tech startup called Omen Arts Ltd. Volunteering comes to him easy as he serves on Seven United and Rotaract.
He aspires to collaborate with organizations that support arts, fashion and culture. Trusting that when we highlight our individual values it will help us cultivate an innovative spirit.
He strongly believes that the youth can help our countries and our continent achieve their goals of improving the lives of our population.
Tell us about the brand that you have created, what does it mean to be a male model in Africa?
Well, I am a fashion model operating in Rwanda. Speaking of branding, I portray myself as Stin Shema on social media and other mediums. Today, fashion modeling in Africa is still a growing industry with lots of talents and prospects. The most important issue faced by these passionate individuals is being spotted by agencies, who can promote them to an international level. So to me, being a male model in Africa is a lot of responsibility. As you have to represent the African culture in a way that not only explains Africa but also gives values and pride to fellow Africans.
It takes real courage and patience. At the end of the day, many people give up on the journey. I would also encourage aspiring models to explore their creativity and innovation because they can be stepping stones on which they might build their whole modelling careers.
In your view, what role does being well dressed play? Do you believe in the term, dress for success?
Frankly speaking, I am a deep believer in first impressions. The way you dress can mean a lot. So, when you look good (dress good) you are not only spraying out good vibes but also implanting positive impressions of you in people’s. This will draw people to you.
When someone is well dressed, they are already attracting good feelings within themselves. This supports confidence that grows within self.
Confidence and positive feelings can totally make up someone’s success. I believe the way someone dresses should correspond to places or events in which they are. So say for example in official or bureaucratic workplaces, formal clothes like suits are more suitable.
Now in more relaxed places like beaches and parties, light/open clothes make people feel more comfortable. So, on special occasions like dates or special dinners, formal clothes again look more suitable.
Share the highlights of your journey?
I started fashion modeling as a professional back in 2016, I didn’t really know much about our African culture because most of my fashion idols dressed up in either European styles or other styles influenced by European cultures. As I continued to grow in fashion, I learned about how Africans dressed and I started being attracted to several African cultural styles. Considering this, I began exploring how they dressed and discovered that the way you dress communicate to people’s souls in its own unique way, especially in Africa. Now when it comes to trading elements among both continents dressing styles, I wouldn’t really pick out some specifically, I think it all depends on occasions and circumstances.
How can we promote love/ admiration and respect for the continent through fashion?
As a Pan-Africanist, I am a deep believer in the power of our African culture and I’m very interested in all the opportunities through which we could manifest its seeds. Speaking of modelling, I believe fashion is one of the best ways to showcase African clothes that sparks all the African values and culture. When someone is dressed African, they not only give respect to the continent but they are also serving as an example to the rest of people within their communities, especially young people. To my understanding, this mainly concerns young people as they are the ones who are very enthusiastic about fashion. So I see dressing up African as a channel to make the rest of the world recognize and admire our beautiful culture.
Fashion they say transcends cultures, share your favourite fashion icons from around the world. What makes them special to you?
I have several fashion idols including some residing in Rwanda or other external regions. Here’s a small of my notable idols:
Jay Rwanda:It all started in Rwanda, He is now an internationally recognized model. He has won several awards including “Mr. Africa International” and other prizes in Swahili Fashion Week.
Alton Manson: He is an American male model, and his fashion career inspires me.
Sean O’Pry: is an American male supermodel, and he ranked in ranked as fifth on the ‘Top 10 Male Models of All Time’ by Vogue in 2015.
Naomi Campbell: She is an English model, and she became a model of the year awards 2018.
Name your favourite fashion labels and the reason(s) behind your choice(s).
– Nike: I love the Nike brand, they find ways to serve sports enthusiasts relating even in their product design. Their sports products are aesthetically designed and they are different from all other major competitors.
– Louis Philippe: it is an Indian based fashion and lifestyle products manufacturer. I like the way their products are luxurious and uniquely beautiful.
– Calvin Klein: What I love about their products is mainly the luxurious side they all share. They have some really beautiful lifestyle products.
– Moshions Rwanda: This brand has been growing exponentially in Rwanda with some big highlights including dressing the Sophia Humanoid robot during TAS 2019. I love the way they relate with the African culture, it shows in their product line.