British-Nigerian digital content creator, fashion stylist, aspiring model, and entrepreneur Rachael Adewunmi (@rae.jpeg) is the epitome of a modern-day, all-round creative. We had a raw and honest conversation with Rachael about life as a university student during the coronavirus outbreak, alongside balancing her many passion projects, and how she has managed to stay afloat amidst all the chaos and uncertainty.
The beginning of the first lockdown marked the start-up of Rachael’s clothing brand, ‘Distorted Fashion’. “Being so detached from my homeland of Nigeria, as a British-born, I never really felt a connection with my Nigerian culture. This is what influenced my ‘Call Home’ concept, which plays on the idea of literally calling home and, visually, has a vintage look that I just love... I wanted to create something that reflected what’s most important to me - endurance, sustainability, and the capacity to touch a certain kind of person. Stepping away from it all for a second gave me more clarity on the kind of brand I want to build and how to achieve longevity.” Undoubtedly, Rachael’s roots shine through her work: with a focus on Nigeria in some of her prints and her use of bright vibrant colours. Her musical inspirations are also captured in the SZA and Smino printed tees that she designed last year. Going forward, she hopes to broaden her designs, making room for tracksuits, which she is currently working on samples of.
As a second year Fashion Promotion student, using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator to create and design her iconic fashion concepts are skills which are not brand new to Rachael. “If it wasn’t for university, I probably wouldn’t have gotten into editing as much”, she says in response to the question of whether being in education can hinder the creative process, as is often the narrative. Studying a creative course has, naturally, pushed her to create more content, of which her zine “Terra Firma” is just one perfect example. As part of a university project, she created a magazine focusing on black creatives (particularly black women’s contributions to the fashion industry), exploring some of the issues they often face and redefining misrepresented narratives of blackness and beauty. Despite the waves of demotivation that creatives can often fall victim to, she pushed through and produced this incredible work of art in just three weeks. Whilst education and creativity are often portrayed as polar opposites, for Rachael, the two seem to intertwine in a symbiotic and harmonious relationship, with the academic skills she develops informing and supporting her creative ventures.
As we await the long-overdue return to “normal life”, Rachael’s post-pandemic looks shared in the format of reels across social media are merely a click away. She does not shy away from bright colours and graphic prints, as can be seen not only in her digital designs but also in her killer makeup and fashion looks. Rachael keeps her Instagram followers entertained and inspired with her regular output of content that has us all excited for the outside world to open up again.
“What’s one piece of advice you’d give to emerging creatives in the current climate we’re living in today?” we asked her. “The main thing I’d say is: use the resources you already have. When I was starting out, I thought I needed an expensive camera and a high-quality tripod, but the likelihood is you have all you need. You just might not recognise that! Just start.” Rachael’s radiant energy and unique content have revealed the sheer power in the following: believing in yourself in spite of creative blocks and droughts, taking a breather when necessary, and last but not least, trusting in the power of self-timer and the hands-free camera when taking pictures on an iPhone!
Diren is a recent English graduate from the University of Oxford. Since graduating, she has been exploring creative storytelling through different mediums. As a Kurdish creative living in London, she is passionate about using storytelling to improve minority representation, particularly for communities that are often unrepresented or misrepresented across mainstream media. Diren's Instagram is @diren.xo and her Twitter is @_diren.