‘I’ve styled Emma Watson and Paris Hilton but had to work twice as hard as a Black woman’

Having a sense of style is what makes us unique and can be influenced by different aspects of life. From using clothes to express religious beliefs, to imitating the style of your favourite musician – every facet of life can affect our fashion choices.

But for one Londoner, styling a look is something that defined her family long before she took it and transformed it into a fully fledged career. After learning from her “fashion goddess” grandmother and thrifting at boot sales as a child, Marian Kwei was able to work as a stylist for stars such as Sienna Miller, Paris Hilton and Emma Watson .

But despite her successes, the 40-year-old says as a Black woman she had to work “twice as hard” to earn it.

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The Londoner says that she’s had to work twice as hard as a Black woman in the fashion industry

Marian said: “My grandma was the fashion goddess of her village. She was poor so she didn’t have much money. She was struggling so she would use little things, she would buy something second hand and customise it. She passed onto her daughter, her mother and I do that to this day.

“She would sew things as a seamstress and she passed that onto my mum.”

The Londoner says that her mother left Ghana in 1986 to come to the UK where she raised Marian and often took her to boot sales. Marian said: “When I was a little girl, I remember being eight-years-old going charity shopping with her.

Marian’s mother was known as the “fashion goddess” of her village in Mamfe, Ghana

“Sundays in summer time the routine would be to wake up and go to a car boot sale. Till this day I can’t walk past one without going and thrifting. We would go to car boot sales and we would look for scarves and things that would emulate a Chanel suit and I got that ability to take something little and turn it into something stylish.”

Marian’s love for styling grew and she went on to study fashion at Reading College, but soon many opportunities came knocking and the Londoner became the editor of fashion magazine – Diirty Glam.

She said: “I’ve styled a lot of people like Sienna Miller and Emma Watson. I’ve styled them for the front covers of magazines called Dirrty Glam. I was the UK editor of the magazine. We had Paris Hilton on the cover.”

Marian says that her mother who is an artists also inspired her fashion sense

But for the Londoner, she says that working in the fashion industry as a young Black woman has its challenges and meant she had to work “twice as hard”.

She said: “There’s been the challenge of my skin colour. Some people haven’t said it, but perhaps if I was the same skin colour as them they would be more approachable. There’s been a lot of challenges as a young black woman in the fashion industry. The fashion industry has afforded me opportunities but being Black meant that I’ve had to work twice as hard.”

Marian says that the industry feels like a “gentleman’s club and that people expected her to be someone different to who they met.

Marian says that the fahsion industry presented challenges for her as a Black woman

Marian said: “When I was styling for Dirrty Glam I was in my mid 20s and I would meet big celebrities and they were expecting me to be somebody older, wiser, who looked more mature. I think there’s a men’s club, a gentleman’s club sort of feel in the industry. That has been my main challenge.”

The Londoner decided to start her own magazine called Story Magazine after being inspired by reading Vogue magazine as a child.

The Canary Wharf native said: “I’m currently the editor of Story magazine . It tells the stories of fashion, beauty and culture.”

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“When I was 10-years-old looking at Vogue I said to myself, ‘I want to have my own magazine and I’ll call it Story magazine.

“At 10-years-old I got my first copy of Vogue and I haven’t looked back since. I got this feeling of euphoria and thought this is what I want to be doing.”

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