"I’m not a typical model. I do commercial work, a little editorial, and no runway. I did a Benetton campaign a few years ago, which was cast by Brice Compagnon, the founder of WAD magazine. He also has this agency that specializes in unique beauty. Benetton is such an iconic brand, so that was a big deal for me. But in France, it can still be hard to get commercial work when you have such a specific look. People assume I get more work because of it, but it’s not true. I’m still dreaming of a Gap gig! [Laughs] My passion is actually this project I started with my boyfriend—it’s a food cart on a bike called Le Tricycle. We make vegan hotdogs and sell them during special events. It’s going so well that we started doing private catering, too.
I am very low maintenance when it comes to beauty; I’ve always been like that. It’s probably something I have inherited from my mother, who has dreadlocks and never wears any makeup. Her ultimate beauty tip is the sun. She always said that being in Martinique, where she is from, is the best cure for everything—and it’s true because women there have incredible skin and hair. So my mom is from Martinique and my dad from Senegal, which makes me a redhead with crazy curly hair and a very specific skin tone. I’m actually a little ashamed to say it, but I never spend any money on products. I like the basics that I can get at Monoprix when I go grocery shopping: Dove soap, deodorant and Nivea Creme. I only have one lipstick in my bathroom—a friend gave me the Rihanna RiRi Woo from MAC, saying it would look perfect on me. I’ll put that on if I have a party or something. Some would say I’m lazy but I feel like I just put my energy into other things.
Even though my hair is a big part of who I am and I could not imagine myself without it, it was really challenging when I was younger. There are a lot of clichés about redheads in the black community, crazy stories about sorcery or curses… My family and I were always moving around and we’d always settle into small towns where I was ‘the odd one.’ Kids and sometimes even parents would pick on me. At 13, I went through a phase when I wanted to dye my hair and have it straight—thank God my mom always told me that I should be proud of who I am. When we moved to Paris a couple years later, there were a lot of mixed-race people and I started to get compliments about my ‘look.’
Today more and more girls want to have natural hair—some of them are even sending me messages on Facebook asking for tips! I am always a bit embarrassed because I don’t have much of a routine for it. I wash my hair once a week and let it air dry. I try to avoid heat as much as possible—making my hair straight has the tendency to mess up my curl pattern. When I do editorial work, sometimes the photographer will ask the hair team to do that, but I usually wash it right after the shoot to get my curls back. Every now and then I make a mask at home with what I have in the kitchen—avocado, honey, you name it. Then for everyday, I like to wear it open, or in a bun when I’m working. Braiding actually helps my hair grow and stay healthy, so I’ll braid it before going to bed. That also helps me not wake up with it looking too crazy!”
—as told to ITG