It’s okay to go through some tough times,
It’s okay to feel negative emotions,
It’s good that life surprises us in unpredictable ways, both good and bad.
It’s not okay to feel insecure about what we are,
It’s not okay to let social media influence us and make us become different from our true selves,
And it’s not okay to think that everything is impossible.
Because to be yourself, to be proud of who you are and to wear your “clothes” every day knowing that you are unique, is the greatest superpower you could wish for. Saffi Karina, model and mental health activist, knows this well; she uses her voice and her work to remind others that no one is alone, and that “everything we need is already inside of us”.
Driven by the curiosity to know Saffi and how she conveys self-confidence every day on social media, and to learn more about her commitment as an ambassador for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), we sat down with her in a New York club to talk about her modeling career between London and New York with IMG Models, the importance of sharing your personal experience, of getting involved to help others and of feeling good in your body, regardless of the size or of the stupid “rules” of the contemporary society.
As Saffi says, the real beauty is the one that shines through the eyes of a self-confident person, that same beauty that every smile, shot and instant Saffi has shown us, and that we treasured to always remind ourselves that “everything will be all right “.
When did you realize you wanted to work as a model and how has your career evolved until now?
I was scouted at 19 and decided to officially give it a go at 23 after I’d booked my first International TV commercial. Up until that point, modeling had never been my first career choice- I had wanted to be a photographer and was doing it part time to help pay for equipment and uni expenses.
Since then modeling has brought me all over the world and has allowed me to work with brands I would of only dreamed of! In 2016, I signed to IMG and moved to New York city, although I also divide my time between London & LA.
As a model it is important to use your voice and social platforms for purpose and mission. I’m an active mental health campaigner and strive to empower women of all shapes and sizes into being the most confident version of themselves.
“As a model it is important to use your voice and social platforms for purpose and mission.”
“I’m an active mental health campaigner and strive to empower women of all shapes and sizes into being the most confident version of themselves.”
You’ve studied acting, was it helpful to build your career or to better express your personality?
I have been acting since I was eleven years old , and modeling to a degree is also a form of acting when you’re portraying a mood and a character to camera. It has definitely helped to boost my confidence and creativity on set.
You teach women how to feel more confident with their natural body shape and that’s so important and inspiring: regarding that, what changes did you see in the industry over your career and what changes would you still love to see instead?
In recent years I’ve seen a radial global shift when it comes to representation. A shift that I have thankfully been apart of. Brands are realizing the importance of diversity and are reflecting that with their choice of models in runway shows and campaigns. Bodies of all shapes and sizes are being celebrated and more people of color are coming to the forefront! Its an exciting time that I feel will just continue to expand.
“Brands are realizing the importance of diversity and are reflecting that with their choice of models in runway shows and campaigns.”
Social Media are so impactful over new generations in terms of sharing messages and moments, what are in your opinion the pros and cons of them?
The pros are definitely being able to use your voice to empower and spread awareness on topics you’re passionate about, whilst connecting with like minded individuals.
The downsides are constantly comparing yourselves to strangers and feelings on inadequacy.
We need to remind ourselves that it is JUST an app showcasing “highlights’’. That we all struggle, we just don’t glorify our failures as much our achievements on a public domain.
Tell us about your work of activist and ambassador for AFSP and Mental Health, how did you come in contact with these organizations and how can people help or support them? What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve done or seen as an activist?
Having struggled for many years in the past with depression and mental health issues I felt it was imperative to use my platform to help spread awareness, and encourage others who were suffering to seek help. Most suicides are preventable, so educating people on what factors to look out for is key. I got talking to one of the directors of AFSP in New York about my own experiences and passion for mentoring, expressing my desire to volunteer with an organization like AFSP. I was invited to be an ambassador and have continued working with them ever since.
The most rewarding thing I’ve done as an activist was leading over 2,000 people in the “Out of Darkness” walk in Manhattan, whilst raising money for ASFP (American society for suicide for prevention) in the process. Feeling the love and support amongst everyone affected by suicide was very special.
“Having struggled for many years in the past with depression and mental health issues I felt it was imperative to use my platform to help spread awareness, and encourage others who were suffering to seek help.”
As a #Girlboss, who’s a woman that inspires you both in your personal and professional life?
Oprah Winfrey! She’s a woman who’s done it all. You can see all the wisdom and experience in her eyes when she talks. I’d love to sit down with her over a coffee.
London and New York, how these cities inspire you and what do you love the most about the two of them?
London is the city where I grew up so its always wonderful to come home and reflect on how I’ve evolved. New York inspires me daily as anything is possible- everyday you wake up and feel like you’re on the brink of something wonderful and exciting! Both cities have such similar vibrant energy but are such a contrast architecturally.
You also travel a lot, was there a place that left you speechless?
The Isle of Skye in Scotland was a phenomenal landscape that looked like a painting.
Also swimming in the turquoise waters, looking up at The Mayan ruins in Mexico was pretty magical.
What’s beauty for you?
Confidence. No matter what age ,size, or shape someone is when they walk into a room and UNAPOLOGETICALLY own who they are. That’s beautiful!
Spaeaking about taking care of ourselves, what’s your skincare routine and go-to makeup look?
I incorporate a lot of products by Caudalie and Sunday Riley into my beauty routine. A deep cleanse using the Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser alongside the Foreo Luna face brush. I’ll then cleanse and tone with Caudalie Gentle Cleansing Milk and Vinopure Clear Skin Purifying Toner. Spritz my face with the Caudalie Beauty Elixir, and finish with the Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil’ for night time and Sunday Riley C.E.O. Vitamin C Brightening Hydration Cream for day.
Make-up wise my get up and go products are: Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer in Cuba, Nars Translucent Setting Powder, Nars Brozer Powder in Casino, Lancôme Definicils High Definition Mascara and lip balm.
What’s the kind of look that better expresses your personality?
Comfort with a hint of sexiness. So usually some oversized sweats/camo pants paired with a tight fitting crop top and some nikes.
What do you have too many of in your closet?
Shoes! Way too many shoes and sneakers.
What have you already cross from your bucket list?
Signing with the worlds biggest agency, living in New York city, Africa and Asia.
The rest will be revealed in due time…
“Comfort with a hint of sexiness.”
What’s your happy place.
By the ocean, with a good book and a sackful of Mangos and mangosteens.
Do you have a motto?
Everything you want is already inside of yourself!
What’s your favorite food?
I love Indian, Latin, Filipino and Caribbean cuisine. Anything flavorful with lots of spice!
“Everything you want is already inside of yourself!”
What’s your superpower.
Being able to breathe underwater unaided, would be first choice as I am obsessed with the ocean and marine life.
What’s the book on your nightstand.
“Three magic words” by U.S Anderson. A powerful book that I continually revisit.
What’s your dream for the future?
Consistency. Career longevity and lots more travel and adventure!