Meet Mmina Gaebonwe by @kgosisethoko
Born and raised in Maun, Mmina started modelling at the age of 16, and by 18 was on her way to New York and relocated to Cape Town in South Africa where she continued her career in modelling with Outlaws Model Agency.
Mmina currently owns and runs Em Models and Talent Management, a company based in Gaborone, with a global market and she is one of the most successful models to come out of the country, she has shot for everyone from Marie Claire to Dossier to Grazia to Local Magazines like Lapologa, conquered New York, and on top of that she is obsessed with Harry Potter and Pizza seriously haha, she is currently signed to Boss Models in Joburg & Outlaws in Cape Town this girl is an amazing talent who has worked hard to be where she is today, she recently launched her creative’s hub workshops in Botswana and will be hosting the second one soon, she is a huge believer in giving back to the community like she does in her hometown of Maun, we managed to steal a bit of her time and share it with you.
- You are one of Botswana’s most famous models and recognised faces in fashion. What keeps you grounded and why is it important to you to stay authentic?
I would say my roots, come from Maun, you have little need for a lot of things. In Maun we are content with the river flowing, enough rain, that has taught me to not to get lost in a world of glamour, as much as I love this world I'm in, I know to always go back and reconnect with my roots.
- You did not aspire to be another Naomi Campbell or Kaone Kario because the world already has them. Instead from what I have seen you capitalised on your uniqueness. What do you think defines this uniqueness and how did you develop that into the Mmina brand?
I went into modelling for the love of it, not with a calculated strategy. So I just do my job and always hope I do it with love, and passion and knowing that I'm lucky to be able to do something I love.
- As a model and brand you have to make a lot of sacrifices for your career, what are some of the daily sacrifices you have to make in order to keep climbing the success ladder?
Eating right, keeping healthy, making sure my body is in the right shape. My body and face are my business so they are my top priority.
- What are some of the biggest challenges you encounter and face to enable you to make the right call in an industry that is fast- paced and changes so quickly?
The biggest challenge is picking jobs that will help your career and brand vs jobs that will put money in the pocket. So if you want to build a brand sometimes you have to give up some jobs that are not in twine with your brand.
- How do you physically, mentally, and emotionally manage the intensity that comes with being a high fashion model and the travels?
I drink a lot of water when travelling, read a lot at the airport, in the plane, in the hotel, also talking to my mom and bestfriend on the phone helps.
- Let’s talk about beauty standards and being a black model in an industry that seems to be racist towards models of colour how do you deal with that and does it ever affect your self-identity and esteem?
I recently cut my hair, and decided I will be unapologetically black and proud, and there are a lot of models that are speaking up now. We are voicing our issues either on Instagram or interviews. We refuse to be denied work because of the colour of our skin.
- Are you currently doing any outreach work to empower the creatives and artists in Botswana which we love? How did this come about and where do you see it going in the future?
I have an annual creatives workshop that gives a platform for an intellectual exchange of ideas and connect people from different creative disciplines. It is a place to test ideas, learn new skills and tackle social and civic challenges together.
- Talking about your creatives workshops, the second one is coming up. Let's talk about the impact the first one had had and what the progress has been so far?
It was well received and it proved that the creatives in Botswana need a path and direction and are willing to work towards growing the industry.
- What can we expect from the upcoming workshop?
It's going to be 2 days, where the first day is a benefit dinner where we are silently auctioning different types of visual art and the second will see an intellectual exchange of ideas from different backgrounds in the creative world.
- You have an agency running called Em Models and it caters for all shapes and sizes. What inspired this and what can we expect from you and your models?
My focus is on the workshop at the moment, but hopefully in the future I will be able to give full attention to EmModels.
- In your opinion, what is the best Botswana has to offer the fashion world?
The people. Fashion is best interpreted by people and Botswana has very remarkable people that can change the fashion landscape of Botswana and the world.
- This year has been a busy one for you with your brand and you getting back to modelling, what has been the highlight of it all and what can we still look forward to in the months left in the year?
I recently filmed a movie with some very brilliant people. Kagiso Lediga, Pearl Thusi and Akin Omotoso. It was a dream.
- It’s Botswana's 50th independence, what’s your take on this and do you think we should be celebrating especially looking at how far back the creative industry is?
We can celebrate the peace and tranquility of Botswana and that we have enough freedom as creatives to create art, and see that art benefit us, we have a long way to go but we also have come a long way.
- On top of that, what would you love to see a change in our country ?
More women taking active stands in whatever respect of work they do. I would love to see more Feminists in Botswana.