15th July, 2017
… a special day for Safia Elena Ali.
On July 15th, 2017, a 22 year old Safia received the validation that her soul had been longing for. It was on this day that her “fairy godmother”, Kered Clement, expressed her confidence in Safia’s ability after exposing her to a life-changing opportunity.
You see, for years Safia struggled with left brain vs right brain syndrome. A condition characterized by its difficulty to diagnose, these unique individuals often spend a large portion of their lives trying to deny either their analytical, practical nature, or their creative, imaginative traits out of fear of disappointing themselves and others.
After spending the majority of her school-going days pursuing a career in medicine, she’d had enough. She could no longer surpress the overwhelming urge to explore her creative mind. In a single moment she vowed to never sacrifice one over the other again; she would do her best to maintain balance, to allow both sides of her personality to be challenged, to grow.
Even though she couldn’t openly admit it at the time, Safia was always intrigued by the idea of fashion. From the moment she could safely operate a scissors (yes, I really said that), she dedicated hours to scrap-booking her favourite looks from her mom’s old fashion magazines, and when she got a bit older, would take them with her when she traveled to make sure that she spent her little pocket change wisely. And that was just The Beginning. For all the time that followed, she continued her research. She spent copious amounts of time googling the latest trends; she stared for hours at her laptop screen admiring the craftsmanship of the luxury fashion houses; she trashed her room almost every night playing dress-up, trying to find different ways to “style” her clothes… a real budding fashionista.
As she grew older, the love grew deeper. She became known in her circle as “the friend who likes to dress up”. Bet your bottom dollar, if Safia was leaving her house, she’d arrive looking like a whole snack: put together. She did not come to play. This is what she loved, and she was good at it. It made her happy.
After many years of surpressing that love, there was a moment of clarity. Matter of fact, it was one of her first days in her first year of Med School. One of her teachers stood up in front of the class and asked a single question:
“How many of you have ALWAYS wanted to be a doctor? How many of you know that this is your passion?”
Hands all across the classroom shot up at the speed of light, but in that moment for Safia, time stood still. She couldn’t raise her hand. She knew it wasn’t true. She looked around her at a room full of future doctors, smiles stretched on their faces, their hands waving in the air, and for the first time, felt like she didn’t belong there.
A seed was planted.
She questioned her place and her role. She truly loved being in that classroom and learning all there was to know about the intricate human body, but was it enough? Would it ever be enough? She knew it wasn’t, and it would never be.
Things got harder after that. Up until that moment she never questioned her decision. She believed that she was doing the right thing; the more practical thing; the thing that made the most sense, but her heart was not in it, and she believed that in order to really succeed in something, one has to be fully committed to seeing it through.
27th Dec, 2015
… Safia receives a journal from Rushell Rousseau for her 21st birthday, and begins to document her thoughts.
“What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”
“21/01/15- I would drop out of med school and do fashion. It’s where my true talent & passions lie, and if there was a guarantee for success, I would do it. It’s what my heart wants.”
“Why be afraid of something you want?”
“18/01/15- Because sometimes I put other people before myself, and I become afraid to pursue what I want because I don’t want to hurt others, even though I know it would make me happy.
5/10/16- Sometimes I feel like I want too many things and I don’t really know if I can have it all. I want to be IN fashion. So badly. It’s my dream job. But it’s too risky. I would love it, but I’m not sure it’s worth it at the moment.”
“What difference does it make if the thing you’re scared of is real or not?”
“7/10/16- I’m scared to pursue my dream of getting into fashion because it’s such a big sacrifice to make for something that’s so risky. I’m scared to lose the things & people that I care about while I’m on that journey.”
The more she expressed her thoughts, the more she doubted the path she was on, and eventually she realized that unless she gave this a chance, she’d always regret it. School felt harder and more stressful because motivation was harder to find. “Take a break,” she thought, “figure out what you really want to do before you go any further”, and that’s what she did.
After withdrawing from medical school, she began working for a local, Grenadian boutique: The Boutique at Calabash. It was at Calabash that Safia was able to experiment with her creativity. As the manager of The Boutique, she found herself dedicated to doing whatever she could to promote the business. From organizing photo shoots, to creating original content, to managing The Boutique’s social media, to hosting Grenada’s first ever pop-up, she fully dove into her responsibilities, and was able to experience fashion from a different perspective.
Safia met Kered Clement early in 2017 through her work at The Boutique and through a mutual friend. Over time their relationship grew, and Safia began to think of Kered as a mentor and role model. She felt very much encouraged by Kered, and as a matter of fact, it was Kered’s encouraging words coupled with the success she was achieving at Calabash, that motivated her and nurtured her confidence. In Kered she found a confidant and valuable insight into the world of fashion; whenever she needed help or advice, she was never disappointed. It wasn’t long before Kered found Safia ready for something bigger.
19th May, 2017
Kered offers Safia a life-changing opportunity.
As a contributor to several fashion publications, both local and international, Kered was frequently asked to participate in shoots inside and outside of Grenada. On this day, Kered messaged Safia to let her know that one of those opportunities could be hers. A fabulous shoot for Elle Kazakhstan was to take place in Grenada and Safia was asked to assist with the styling. She was so excited but also nervous. At this point, her experience was limited to her work with The Boutique and her own personal research, but she trusted Kered’s assessment of her readiness and hopped on board.
23rd May, 2017
At 9:30am Safia arrived at the Grenadian market square as ready as she ever would be. She’d spent the days before preparing- googling everything, making checklists, and everything in between. However, as much as she prepared, nothing could have braced her for the realness that came her way. Before this moment Safia never truly understood the amount of work and responsibility that a stylist was expected to accept on such a set. She thought it was pretty straightforward- you come, dress the model, look after the clothes, undress them and then you’re done! But no! There was far more to it, and under the guidance of Kered, wise people on the internet and the very experienced photographer, she fell right in. At first it was awkward- stopping the photographer mid-shot to adjust some minuscule detail. “Who do I think I am?”, she thought. But that was all a part of the responsibility, and after a while it became second nature.
At the day’s end she was physically exhausted but her soul felt recharged. On that day not only did she find a renewed sense of purpose, Safia also found her place. Finally, she had found her place. She felt tremendously proud of herself; she felt more confident than ever and knew that nobody would ever be able to take that feeling away from her.
2nd July, 2017
@safia.elena was born.
In an effort to document her experience, Safia created the Instagram page @safia.elena. It served as a platform for her to share her experiences, work, and inspiration with those around her, and she thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. It provided her with an even fuller sense of purpose and motivated her to start creating original content. She wanted to continue to build a name for herself. Safia also knew that eventually she wanted to expand @safia.elena and so decided to invest in her very own online portfolio and fashion/ style blog, safiaelena.com.
September, 2017 – July, 2018
Upon moving back to Trinidad, Safia continued to search for ways to strengthen her portfolio and build her brand. She frequently enlisted the help of her best friend and number one cheerleader, Elena Marquez, on shoots, and eventually in May 2018, the two collectively became known as the dynamic duo behind most of @safia.elena’s independent creative projects.
After completing several successful projects, Safia’s mind went back to safiaelena.com. After some time had passed, and after discussing ideas with Elena, she decided that it was finally the right moment to resume work on the website. Initially she imagined safiaelena.com to be an online portfolio and fashion blog, but over time that idea shifted. There was just so much that she’d learned, so much that she wanted to share with people, and just so much more she wanted to do. Safia and Elena, thrilled by their drive to create, made up their minds. They were gonna do it.
18th July, 2018
Safiaelena.com is launched.
As you can see, SAFIAELENA has been a long time coming. A big shift from its intended purpose, Safia and Elena decided that safiaelena.com will not only serve as an online portfolio and informative fashion blog, but will also act as a means of connecting people to Caribbean designers and creatives, as well as connecting international fashion to the Caribbean in an attempt to assist in the growth of the local fashion industry.
Safia and Elena would like to welcome you to this new part of their journey and they hope that you will enjoy it as much as they do.