Over the years, Josiane Laure Modjom, has made it her mission to make inclusivity a major pillar within the global fashion industry. Most recently, the entrepreneur and mother of 2 ventured into creating an online networking platform, Malia Indigo, aimed at creating an inclusive global community of fashion professionals, both on and offline.
In this interview, we sit down with Josiane Laure Modjom to talk about her unique platform and the vision she holds for the future of fashion.
Why did you decide to name your brand Malia Indigo?
Malia Indigo is a combination of two names that came to me a few years ago when I was going through my identity struggle. The names came to me at the same time when I was thinking of myself and how I want people to picture me. Malia Indigo to me is someone who is confident, who is happy with who they are. It was initially my model name and then after that, it became my community's name.
What inspired you to start a business?
I realized that there was a lack of visibility or exposure for people that looked like me. The business came from my own experiences; I was unable to find a place in the fashion industry as a curvy woman. Even though I was signed with a modelling agency in Toronto, there was no room for me at that time in the industry. I didn't understand why there was such a defined standard in fashion. I believe fashion should be for everyone. I decided to make a change: bring diversity to the industry. That's where the idea of Malia Indigo as a business came from.
Do you feel the existence of platforms like LinkedIn, management agencies and Instagram has affected the emergence of your brand. In what way?
It has definitely affected the brand, but again this is a very specific platform. It’s for people who are in fashion. Other platforms have a range of different fields and from my experience, it is very difficult to find talent on those platforms when you have a very specific need. So, the reason why we built this platform was to create a standard place with a specific purpose. Anyone in fashion can join regardless of gender, ethnicity etc. it is valuable to have a tool that will bring you straight to your point.
What were the major roadblocks you faced starting or propelling your company?
The major thing was the resources. People do not necessarily understand the idea behind your vision and the vision behind your business until you invest in communication and marketing. The first fashion show we had in Toronto was a good introduction to what we are doing today. After that, people started to take notice and realized what we are trying to accomplish at Malia Indigo.
If you could provide one piece of advice to someone just starting out (or even yourself in 2016), what would it be?
Get the right people. Get the right human resources. As a startup, you always think about costs. It is hard to do things by yourself. If I have any advice to give, I would say get the right resource. It is better to start with professionals than to keep going in a circle.
Was there a time you wanted to quit? And how did you overcome that feeling?
To be honest, I never thought about quitting this project. Because I truly believe in what I am doing. I have not gone to the point where I want to quit. It is difficult and I do have my up and down moments, but I still believe in what I am doing. Testimonials from the public are always positive and that is my source of motivation.
What was the one moment where you realized you were on the right track?
At the very first fashion show we hosted, a model came to me crying, hugged me
and said that she was so thankful for what I am doing. Being able to offer a way for others to embrace who they are is a major win for me.
What’s your favourite thing about being an entrepreneur?
Achievement. The fact that I am creating and doing something by myself. That is the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur for me. Passion is the key. If you don't believe in what you're doing, it may not work.
What is your goal for the end of the year?
Body positive movement hashtags should be a reality, not just for Instagram. We want inclusivity to be integrated into brands’ politics. This year we are trying to launch a clothing line just to see how the industry feels. We hope to launch it by the end of the year.
Who has been your biggest source of inspiration?
To be honest, I am inspired by so many people! It’s difficult to just give one name. In
general, I am inspired by people who create solutions.
What’s next for you? How do you see Malia Indigo evolving over the coming years?
I see Malia Indigo as a community of professionals who share their talents and grow. I
see it as an international platform that gathers not just underrepresented individuals but also everyone in fashion. We want to get our voice out and we are looking forward to seeing how to have a bigger audience and get more people involved.
“The platform is www.maliaindigo.com; it’s free and just one or two clicks to get in.
It is made for everyone in the fashion industry.”