Ghanaian born and raised Model, entrepreneur and creative, Setornam Nyendu was one of the models chosen to model for Kim Kardashian’s shapewear line, SKIMS.
She tells her story on how it all started right here on 10 Questions.
First question. who would you say Setornam Nyendu is and how did her story start?
Setornam is a young girl from Ghana.
I’m actually from the Volta region and my story began in Akatsi, that is where I actually grew up. I went to Ketasco and I was at the University of Ghana for two weeks before I moved to Minnesota.
I went to school to study IT security, graduated in 2017, got a full-time job as an IT security analyst.
I worked there for about three and a half years and I decided to quit because I felt like the environment was very toxic for me as a black woman. I was the only black woman on my team and there was so much discrimination and disrespect because a lot of people thought I was not supposed to be there mainly because one, I was black. Two I was African and three, I was the youngest person on my team. It got to a point that just couldn’t do it anymore. So I quit and started Creatives Anonymous Africa with my cousin, Akpene Diata Hogar(of Miss Ghana Fame).
How did modelling start for you?
I started modeling about six years ago.
I started modeling because one of my friends wanted to be a photographer and he was like, you always look nice. You dress, nice. So just look your best and I’ll take pictures of you. That was how I actually started modeling. Then people started reaching out to me to do fashion shows or shoot for their brands. Since then, I’ve been in New York Fashion Week and other popular fashion shows.
How would you describe your work atmosphere as a model and a creative?
Being a model in America is different from being a model in Ghana.
When I decided to take modelling serious, I reached out to a few agencies in Minnesota, where I used to live and everytime they’d tell me, ” We already have someone that looks like you.” Meaning, they already have a black model. It was and still is toxic in the industry but to be grounded you need to always remember why you started in the first place.
Which part of your work do you find most satisfying?
I’m always satisfied when I’m helping people, or when I’m doing something for someone and yeah, just helping people. The main reason why I started my company, Creatives Anonymous Africa, was to help young creatives on their journey to success. We have a podcast called Creatives Corner. Available on Apple Podcast, PodPlay and Podchaser.
Wonderful. So how long did projects Skims take and can you share details on how it started?
So I’ve been in LA for a few months. I met the photographer for the project, Vanessa, while I was on an errand. When I met her she told me I was perfect for a shoot she’s doing and asked me if I would like to model for her. She didn’t tell me the brand at the beginning. She just said I want you to shoot for a project I’m working on and I was like sure.
I was really shocked when she later told me the brand the shoot was for because in the modelling industry, you have to be a signed model to be featured in a big campaign. They don’t just pick random models unless they have a very large social media following. I sent her an email and she replied telling me that they loved my portfolio and the rest they say is history.
You mentioned a podcast that you produce as part of Creatives Anonymous Africa’s activities. How does that work?
We decided to add a podcast to the company, because it’s one thing to just hear someone’s story or just read someone’s story, but it’s another to actually, listen to them talk about what they went through and how they are where they are now
We just ended the first season. We have a new project coming off for like a relief fund for creatives during Covid-19.
Amazing. So how does a typical day in your life look like?
I’m a morning person, I’m always up at 6 am. I used to go to the gym, but now since all gyms are closed because of COVID, I sometimes go for a run in the morning or I just stay at home and skip rope for my cardio.
Then I do a little bit of full body exercise. I have my breakfast, I shower, then I get on my computer. I’m on my computer 90% of my day. I’m always on my computer, either learning something new or just doing research. I also build websites for brands.
I love K-drama as well, so that’s always a part of my day. Aside that, I read books on world building or personal growth.
Have you faced any challenges as a woman of color in the modelling industry?
The modeling industry is toxic, like I said earlier. I once had the chance to model for one brand in Minnesota. She was white and I was the only black girl modeling for her. She once told me, that my skin didn’t look great in her designs.
I just walked up to this lady and I told her “If my skin doesn’t look great in your designs. I don’t think I should be here.” I packed my things and I left. I don’t tolerate disrespect and discrimination because I feel like if I don’t stand up to it the next black girl after me is going to experience the same thing
What do you wish more people knew about the modeling industry?
You need people around you who will always remind you why you started this in the first place,
A lot of people get into modeling and think, “I just want to take nice pictures, I want to look cute I want to be a pretty”, but modeling is definitely not about being pretty or looking cute. It’s more about selling a product. It’s either selling the design you’re in or you’re selling the makeup that’s put on your face.
Any advice for young creatives and models looking to join the industry?
You need to know your boundaries as well as know what you’re looking for. Because if you don’t know these things it’s going to be hard for you to actually navigate this industry. If you’re looking to join this industry, you need to have great self-confidence. And just have fun. That’s the most important thing. You need to be yourself.