At age of 22, Sadaf Deen, an industrialist, a model, a politician, and a mother, from Mombasa, Kenya, says you can achieve all your aspirations in life.
Watch her 2 minutes video to get glimpse of her journey.
Read her full interview with Inspirational Beings team to know her story - how she found her way in modeling industry despite of all the challenges, how she entered into politics, what are her future plans and what is her message to the readers.
Please tell us about your childhood and your personal background?
I belong to a family of 8 members. I was the fifth child in my six siblings. I was born on the 24th of December 1996. We belong to a Punjabi Sunni Muslim culture, but I was brought up in Kenya. My dad used to run a small fish and chips fast food outlet in Nairobi. Due to fall in my dad's business, we shifted to Mombasa. He joined a pharmacy business and then became a distributor in the coastal region.
One of my favorite childhood memories was working with my dad.
My dad taught me the value of hard work and sticking to a project until it is done right. Those moments in my childhood might have seemed small but they have made me do hard work and sticking-to-intervenes a significant part of who I am today.
When and why did you decide to become a model and how did you reach there?
When I was a child I always had a keen interest in fashion. If you see some of my childhood pictures you would find me posing like a model. I grew up watching TV shows like ANTM and Victoria secrets fashion shows, and it inspired me to practice my walk, my posing, and try new looks. Soon I realized that this was something I could pursue, as a full figure model. But the journey was not easy. I was rejected by most of the modeling agencies because of my height and Asian skin color. I faced a lot of racism and that brought me down. I started working on a unique route, I opened my own clothing firm and collaborated with modeling agencies to wear my designer clothes and showcase them on events. At the age of 17, I did my own photo shoot and sent it to the same model agency. They loved my pictures and signed me in as their model. I started modeling when I was 18 in the year 2016.
You own clothing manufacturing firm and an events management company. How did you manage something so big at such a young age?
Age is just a number. In 2018, I opened my clothing firm called Sparkles S.D. Clothing. As I had a keen interest in fashion I always wanted to have my own clothing brand. Soon the modeling agency which gave me the first break, I did a couple of shows with them. Then I bought their 50% stake and changed the name from Shado creations concepts to Shado group limited. I expanded the company and we started doing events, public relations, experiential marketing etc. I want to inspire the next generation, I would not only to be part of the present but of the future. Today around 150 people work in my team to support my modeling events, clothing store, and NGO activities.
What do you love about your profession?
The part of modeling that I loved was being a part of the creative process of design. Often, I'd get to experience the birth of design, from being a bundle of different fabrics to something with life and character, that's a pretty special thing to see happen. Modeling has helped me to open my eyes to other cultures of the world. In an industry like this, the creative visions and exciting ideas have no limits and there are no boundaries when it comes to creating something you love.
Why did you join politics when you had proved your mettle in the world of business and modeling? Please tell us about your experiences?
Though I don't have a political background, I have a huge interest in politics and society. Many women and the youth in my country have encouraged me so much to be a leader that I have confidence in leading them by bringing a change and empowering them.
Even though no one in my family has ever been into politics, I always loved mingling with society and had a liking for politics.
For me the best experience was campaigning and meeting new people and their cultures, getting to know the kind of problems they face, doing research, executing projects that help the people of Mombasa. I got to learn a lot from the people of Mombasa.
My worst experience was receiving heartbreaking comments from people who didn't believe in me and support me on the day of nomination.
Our nomination had to be held twice due to manual voting, my team and I faced a lot of stress. That was the most stressful and worst day I ever experienced. I learned that being rejected or falling down in business or a competition is not the end of life. I believe in trying again, working hard until you succeed in life and achieving your goal.
What are some of the key challenges you faced in taking this route?
The major challenges I faced as a young lady hailing from an Asian community and Asian culture, were that people in Mombasa thought I would not understand the political language and its terrain and being a part of the modeling industry everyone took it as a joke, I received heartbreaking comments and racism, but I am a good student, I have learned my way and continue to learn as I progress, thus far my interactions yielded some good problems, there was a lot of expectations on my shoulders, I was and I am ready to deliver, what I had also witnessed was the culture of "kitu kidogo" ( bribery).
Tell us about your charity foundation in Mombasa and your aspiration/ agenda in politics?
My Foundation supports innovative projects that are working to solve some of the most pressing healthcare problems as well as educational problems.
Sadaf Deen foundation releases proposals that invite NGOs to collaborate and deliver interventions.
My agenda is to focus on Women Empowerment together with pushing the agenda for equality; we must provide the opportunities for women leaders, both aspiring and that in office, to mentor the next generation of powerful women. Above all, we push for the rights of women's interest and push for equality. We must also seek equity.
What is the definition of success to you?
Be optimistic yet realistic and concrete when setting goals, success is understanding the difference between need and want. It is in believing, you can stand on the ground when you believe in something and don't giving up in your dream is a success to me.
How do you keep your motivation up in your low time, when you feel like giving up?
There are days I wake up feeling low, lost, angry and feel like giving up on everything. But one thing I learned throughout my journey is patience and prayers can help you through the roughest days of life.
And whenever I feel like giving up, I just pray to God and read verses from our Holy book that gets me back on track.
There is a verse in our holy books that says - "If God helps you, none can overcome you; and if God forsakes you, who is there after him that can help you? And in God alone let believers put their trust"
Who is your favorite personality and why?
My favorite personality is Mother Teresa, the Roman Catholic nun who devoted her life to take care of the poor and ill individuals, is the most admired woman in the world. And Oprah Winfrey, dubbed as the "Queen of All Media", she was the richest African American of the 20th century and North America's first black multi-billionaire, and has been ranked the greatest black philanthropist in American history. She has also been ranked as the most influential woman in the world. These are the two personalities I admire most.
What's your mantra in life?
"DONT WORRY ABOUT BEING SUCCESSFUL, BUT WORK TOWARD BEING SIGNIFICANT AND SUCCESS WILL NATURALLY FOLLOW."
What's your future plan?
Unfortunately, I proudly lost with 10,000 Votes in 2017. But I shall continue offering my services to the people of the society who seek help through my foundation and my business that offers charitable events, I will work with elected members, provided they push for the agenda of bettering the lives of the residents.
What's your message to our viewers?
Just remember this if you get lost along the way. Anything worth having doesn't come easily. So don't turn back. Don't give up. As you work to achieve your most ambitious goals, push yourself to keep moving forward.
This story is supported by
8th Grade Student, Adams Traditional Academy School,
Phoenix, Arizona, USA.