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| PROFILES |
"Fashion is my number one motivator.
When I'm feeling down I can dress up
and feel good about myself. It's self-ex-
pression and it makes me happy."
By Naballah Chi
AT ONLY 24 YEARS OLD, Annastacia Lewis' professionalism and achievements
are astounding. It is Wednesday night, and due to the fortuitous timing of a brief
fashion shoot, I find myself at Annastacia's family home. 'Baby face', as she's is
popularly known, is an in-demand hairstylist with clients lining up at her door every
day. Her gift for "combing people's hair" begins at the age of ten. With passing
years, she began applying herself, and discovered that hairstyling was an art, and
that life was too short not to achieve goals and that she needed to do something
she loved. She forfeited a national football scholarship to raise her daughter and
pursue her unwavering passion for cosmetology. Before she knew it, she had al-
ready become an award-winning hairstylist, with three consecutive wins at the
Trinidad and Tobago Trade and Beauty Show, held at the Radisson Hotel, Port-of-
However, she lists her greatest personal accomplishment as having played as a
goalkeeper on the Trinidad and Tobago, Under-17 National Women's football team
in 2006-2008 at the CONCACAF World Cup qualifier. Today she plays with the
Real Dimension football club.
Speaking about her conversion to Islam, Lewis admits it's a long way from Mor-
vant-Lavantille, where she enjoyed a quintessential "Trini" childhood before em-
bracing Islam five years ago in high school, but says she wouldn't have it any other
way. "I grew up in a very ghetto and thug community, but Islam softened my
heart and humbled me. Growing up as a non-Muslim girl I was always inspired by
Muslims' humility; the modesty of the Muslim woman's dress code was unique to
my eyes, their kindness and the way they pray." An open invitation to the mosque
one day was what sealed her faith in accepting Islam. "I had two male Muslim
friends who recited a lot of Qur'an and introduced me to the foundations of Islam.
One day they invited me to the mosque, so I said, well, I'll cover up and go."
Oblivious to the fact that she'd accept Islam later that day, she now credits the
faith for having taught her about peace, patience, humility and balance. Since her
conversion, she cites the most challenging aspect of Islam as fasting (abstaining
from food and drink); however, this year marks the first year in which she has
managed to fast the entire holy month of Ramadan without any complaints. Her
new-found faith was accepted by her supportive family, and does come with one
handy advantage: "I lost my misleading friends and gained uplifting ones!"
Her list of inspirational people features individuals such as Annya Benicourt, Mar-
sha Blackett, Miquel Keron Dorset of MJ Painting & Graphic Designs, Naballah Chi,
Sherman Ryan, her mother Michelle Samuel, and husband Devon Gloster, who,
she asserts, is her main support system.
In a media scenario where Islam is more likely to go hand in hand with ISIS cover-
age than fashion, or anything else that's progressive, Muslim fashion has piqued
the interest of media clamoring to know more about these stylish Muslim women
who artistically "hijab-ify" their outfits. In many ways, Lewis is a typical fashionista.
The 24-year-old's Facebook page is full of pictures of her trying out new stylish
garments with a smattering of tasteful self-promotion for her collection of Islamic
designs catering to both men and women. Lewis dons the hijab in all of her pho-
tos, and her clothes, however trendy they may be, adapt to Muslim standards of
modesty. She is part of a wave of "hijabistas": Muslim women who have managed
to successfully blend fashion with faith. The relationship between the two did
have an impact on her own trajectory.
Though she has been designing for the last three months, it seems much longer. "I
design for myself, mostly, but I have many non-Muslim customers as well, so my
designs are not targeted at Muslims alone."
With Islamic style at the forefront of her mind, Lewis' wardrobe mainstays are
long, flowy cardigans and colourful abayas. Unlike most women who seek fashion
inspiration from fashion magazines, runways and Instagram, her style inspiration
comes from within. "Occasionally, I'm inspired by a few people, but most of the
times I create my own style.
Fashion for me is a form of self-expression and even though Muslims are covered,
we can be fashionable as well." The fashion-conscious young woman, who was
once a tomboy, reveals that fashion is now her life. "Fashion is my number one mo-
tivator. When I'm feeling down I can dress up and feel good about myself. It's self-
expression and it makes me happy."
She hopes one day in the future she can be on par with established fashion de-
signers, running her own brick and mortar fashion store. When asked what she is
looking forward to most, she replied, "With the help of Allah, taking my art and my
skills further than what I've already accomplished."
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