I met model Stewella Daville in 2013 during BK Fashion Weekend. She was amazing and a favorite pick of the designers. And as one of the lead models for celebrity designer Thomas Lavonne for the past two years, Jamaican-born “Stewie,” as she is affectionately called, has mastered both the art of modeling and fashion show production.
After producing this season’s Harlem Fashion Week, Daville is not only receiving opportunities as a model but also creating opportunities for other designers of the African and Caribbean diaspora.
Here, Face2Face Africa chats with Daville about her career and her exciting New York Fashion Week experiences below.
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Face2Face Africa: As a Caribbean supermodel residing in the United States, what challenges do you face in the fashion industry?
Stewella Daville: Most times rejection because I am a women of color. It’s very rare you see more than four colored girls on the runway — it may be one or two. Also, in most cases, [runway shows choose] agency girls. Why not non-agency girls?
There are a lot of us freelance models out there so most gigs/castings are not visible to us so that makes it hard to be able to get in to the big shows, but I am blessed to be where I am. Plus, whatever money I make is mine…no booker fees/no agency fees.
F2FA: With your modeling career, you’re everywhere. How are you able to handle it all and create a balance?
SD: It’s rough. I am a full-time Mom, and I have a full-time career as a nanny. So with that plus being a model and now my new adventures I just put my best foot forward and try not to take on too much that I cannot handle.
I often think I work better under pressure, but I make sure I have a substantial meal at least twice a day and pick on fruits/nuts during the day to keep my energy going. [As] a Mom, I always got snacks in my bag!
F2FA: Tell us about your production roles?
SD: I had a great opportunity to produce two shows for Harlem Fashion Week. It was such an amazing experience. I had the pleasure in producing the 7:45 p.m./9:15 p.m. segments, which had a line-up of five designers, such as Hatchers and Isah Conteh, my emerging designer winner.
One of my judges was the phenomenal Princess Jenkins of the Brownstone in Harlem, N.Y., and Steph Mendoza from BET’S TV show “Finfabulous.” My second segment had six designers, [including] the amazing William Witherspoon and Yvonne Jewnell who is the executive director of Harlem Fashion Week.
I was nervous, but I executed my task to the fullest! The show was AWESOMESAUCE!!!
F2FA: How did you choose your looks for Small Boutique Fashion Week (SBFW) and Harlem Fashion Week?
SD: Thomas Lavone dressed me for Harlem Fashion Week. We sat and talked about how I should dress and what is [best] for me. It was my first production, so he knew I love to be sexy and put together sexy and classy [styles for me].
For SBFW, I bought some stretch fabric and had my aunt make me a dress. It was very similar to a dress I saw in a store, so for $50, it cost me half of the price in the fabric store. I enjoy Fashion Week, I always dress up, but twice a year I get to go that extra mile.
F2FA: What advice would you give to anyone coming in to the fashion industry?
SD: Stay humble, I can’t stress that enough. Be yourself, do what you are doing for you, not anyone else. Remember you gotta creep before you can crawl. I did plenty of free shows before I started getting paid, because as time went on — with all my runway shows — publications knew my worth. Everything pays off in the end.
Be patient. Remember your time will come in God’s time. I have been in this industry for three years, and at times, I don’t even see all that I have done until someone tells me. I still think even now, after over 100 runway shows and 30-something magazine publications, God is still cooking up something spectacular for me.
F2FA: Where can your followers and fans find you?
SD: Thank you to all my readers and followers for your continued support. You can follow me on Facebook @ stewellathemodel and Instagram @ iamstewelladaville. Always remember this is your dream not anyone else’s.