Ink Tone Swep Looks & Lines Alanna Nicole Location Bridgetown, Barbados
Your global positioning reflects an interesting geo-hybrid in Barbados, London, and New York. Share with us how you are connected to each of these places. Tell us how they inform your work.
My mother gave birth to both my brother and I in New Jersey while my father was coaching football there. We lived there until I was around four-and-a-half and then we moved to Barbados to be with my mother’s family. It was important to my parents that we grew up in Barbados, surrounded by a large family, and my mom thought that Barbados would be the best place to raise her children. After finishing high school, I relocated to New Jersey for university at Rutgers – New Brunswick and spent much of my free time in New York City. After spending about six years in the states, I took a year off to travel and spent six of those months in Barbados for a break before my next move – to London! I’m currently studying Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Management at Imperial College Business School.
Beyond this skeleton of a life story, these three places have influenced my life and my work tremendously. It was in Barbados that I first fell in love with fashion through my mother, who has always been super stylish. She and my father introduced me to the modelling world and the fashion industry. But Barbados also was a constraint for me. I’d always had the vision to travel and experience as much of the world as possible and staying in Barbados was not allowing for that. However, now I am thinking about how I can bring what I’ve learnt on my journey back there.
New Jersey and New York helped my style flourish massively. There I was able to thrift and truly experiment with my style and see what worked for my personality and my body. I also started my blog in my university dorm room, with the persuasion from my roommate to start documenting my daily outfits. While going through body image issues, I soon realized that I could use the blog to help people with similar experiences and show my journey towards living in my authentic skin.
I’ve only been living in London for a short while now, but it has shown me that I can live out any dreams that I have in mind, once I put in the work. I’ve been committed to growing a brand that encourages and celebrates authenticity and diversity, so being in London has been extremely inspiring to me. I’ve also felt most alone here in London. Although my dad is British and most of his family lives here, London is so massive and with so much going on, it is easy to get lost. With this though, London has forced me to take a look beyond my current state and think about how I want my life to play out.
What is the earliest experience you can remember when you were drawn to colors, patterns, imagery, and people? The nexus synergizing all that you do now.
My mother’s closest, without a doubt! She has always loved bold and colorful prints. Believe it or not, up until about two years ago, I was always wearing black – like black on black on black. And it was my mother who always encouraged me to add color to my wardrobe and, especially, to start wearing earrings. For so long I just wanted to beat to my own drum, so I avoided what she said. But life is funny like that sometimes.
Afro Beat is the hottest sound amongst the youth there in Great Britain, a sound which draws its origin and influence from West Africa and the Caribbean. As a style maven, how has the popular music influenced the current fashion trends?
I’m constantly listening to music. Although I would say that style is the biggest reflection and driver of my mood, music certainly comes second. The bold and energetic sounds, like Afro Beats, fuel me and influences the bold choices that I make with my style.
Give us an accurate description of your approach to fashion. How would you describe and define the Alanna Nicole Effect when it comes to clothing?
The most accurate description that I can give to this is authentic. This may seem broad, but it encompasses all of my various moods and allows me to style myself according to how I’m feeling on a particular day. It also lets me dress for my own comfort and confidence, not to please other people. Even my closest friends at school now have come to realize that my mood is completely depicted by the clothes that I wear. If I’m wearing bold prints, and or colors, everything is all groovy; but if I’m wearing all black these days, they always know that something is up. But living in my true and authentic self has helped me to use style to inspire people – no matter what’s going on in my life.
What are your impressions of fellow Bajan homegirl Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line? Name some of your go-to’s when it comes to cosmetics and personal care products.
Up until December, I hadn’t purchased any of her products – I was a terrible Bajan, I know! But after my MAC products were finished, I decided to go to Harvey Nichols to test the products before buying. Now, I use the primer and foundation religiously. I have naturally oily skin, so I love that Fenty Beauty gives a matte finish. This definitely is a bonus since she already has such an inclusive line of products. I also recently received her signature red liquid lipstick, Stunna, as a Christmas gift from my cousin. I have been struggling with acne and skincare for a couple of years now, so I am still trying to figure out what works best for me. For sure though, loads of water is a must.
You are known for your head full of healthy, and huge, amber colored curls. They are absolutely gorgeous, and your braids are as well. Why do you feel so many women of color are deciding to go on their own unique natural hair journeys?
I really think that it’s because we are finally seeing the beauty in being our complete, natural and authentic selves. For so long, through the media and various institutions, we were taught that there was one standard of beauty that we should all aspire to be. But now, through social media and the incredible women of color who have paved the way for us, we are starting to feel safe and confident.
Share with us the primary differences, and alternate similarities, between London, New York, and Bridgetown. From food and fashion to travel and the Connoisseur scene, all three of your hometowns are beautiful. And there is just something sonically special about that Bajan Creole patois.
The food in Barbados is soooo good – its home! I really enjoy going back to Barbados for holidays because it always gives me the rejuvenation that I need. My grandmother is there and most of my mom’s side of the family, so when I’m there it’s always a relaxing time filled with good, fresh food and lots of dancing. Since I have lived in a few different places, I don’t have a strong Bajan accent. Most would say that it sounds more American than anything else. But I do love it when I hear a Bajan accent in different parts of the world.
As much as I have loved NYC, I’m not so drawn to it at this point of my life. My best friend lives there and a few of my favourite restaurants are there, but I feel like I’ve gotten what I need from the city, for the time being. NYC is amazing, no doubt, but I always feel like I’m unable to take a breather while I’m there – it’s always go go go. But for fashion, of course, it’s one of the best places to be. London feels like my new happy place. It’s so large and there are an incredible number of places and restaurants to experience. I’m gluten and dairy free, which makes all of my food super expensive, but I love eating in London – you can truly find anything and everything here.
What can we expect from you in terms of next moves and new ventures? What is on the horizon for the Alanna Nicole brand?
Although social media has given me many opportunities and I absolutely love the community that I have built, I am also starting to think of pursuing my goals that are outside of the social media realm. The purpose of my masters is to understand and develop a solid business sense in order to open my own PR and Image consultancy firm. Through my work, I have come to realize the importance of being true to who you are and communicating that through everything you do.
I feel that certain companies now, through the social media age and the current political climate, are losing sight of this. I want to be able to help companies disseminate information that accurately and authentically reflects their brand and the values that it stands upon. Of course, while building this company, I will continue to blog and develop my brand because it is my absolute passion. I love being able to share stories and experiences with others through social media! It’s also great having my team at Omega Models behind me, as they consistently help me maintain a balance and keep pushing me to achieve my goals.