African-American Fashion Models in Detroit

It’s finally New York Fashion Week! As fun as fashion week was for me, I realize that there is a dark side to the fashion industry. It is harder for models of color (especially models of African descent) to make it in the industry. One of my favorite celebrities and supermodels is Naomi Campbell. I love Naomi because she is beautiful, genuine, and courageous. I also respect the fact that, even though she is a successful supermodel, she still speaks out on racism in the fashion industry. My platform may not be as large as Naomi’s, but I am going to use my voice to raise awareness on important issues like this.  I recently had the pleasure to interview several models from the Metro-Detroit area. These models will give us a glimpse into their lives as an African-American fashion model. For starters, allow me to introduce to you Lamara “Mari” Hand.  A Detroit beauty you must get to know.


Name: Lamara “Mari” Hand
Age: 20
Hometown: Detroit, MI
DFN: What got you started in modeling?
Hand: I wanted to tell a story with my pictures. I also wanted to show that I am not just a pretty face.
DFN: Tell me about your modeling career, are you a full-time model? Are you in school?
Hand: I am a full-time model and a full-time student. I also have another part-time job in retail.
DFN: What is your favorite part of modeling and what is your least favorite part of modeling?
Hand:  I love being able to connect with younger girls and give them advice. I also like having the younger girls look up to me as a role model. However, I am five feet and one and half inches tall. Having my height be an issue with jobs is my least favorite part of modeling.
DFN: How has it been being an African-American model in the industry?
Hand: It is fun because I am a positive role model for African-American girls.
DFN: Do you ever have issues with makeup artists not being able to do your makeup?
Hand: I do my own makeup to try to avoid those kinds of issues.
DFN: What would you like future African-American models to know about the industry?
Hand: You have to be confident and you don’t have to work with everyone. If someone does not support your brand, you don’t have to work with them. It is fine to be picky when it comes to your success!
DFN: Do you ever have issues with your hair being styled?
Hand: One time I had a fashion show and the stylist had no idea how to deal with my hair when it was curly.
DFN: Where do you want to see yourself headed to? You have a hashtag, (#MariNation) tell me about this.
Hand:  When you see Beyonce and you see her supporters you think of the Beyhive. I wanted my supporters (who are positive, confident, and intelligent people) to identify with #MariNation . I want to see myself owning an empire based on self-love, confidence, and positivity that mentors our people.
DFN: On your Instagram page you spoke about bullying. I am very passionate about bullying because I was bullied as a child and teenager and it was a very traumatic experience for me. In addition, it took me a long time to recover from being bullied. I respect you for admitting that you had been bullied. May you please tell me about your bullying story?    
Hand:  I was bullied for things that I could not change about myself (last name, skin color, etc.). I was so insecure with myself because there was nothing I could do to change it. So, when I finally went away to college and met other people like me who had the same personality and energy, I learned to except me for who I am. I also had friends that bullied me and took advantage of me because I was soft spoken. I just learned that overall you have to respect yourself in order to get respect from others. Also, you should never let someone talk down to you.
DFN:  Can you please talk to me about your fashion line? Your clothes have such uplifting messages to women of color and I love that! 
Hand: I am a partner of a lingerie and swim line. The line is made specifically for the curves that African-American women possess. My partner and I created the brand called Dipped in Melanin to advertise are devotion to catering to black women.
DFN:  How can the readers connect with you on social media?
Hand:  My Instagram is: @Mari.gxld
Kelechi Uchendu and Mari

Keep an eye out for “African-American Fashion Models in Detroit Pt 2”.  We have more beauties and more interviews to share with you. Thank you Lamara Hand for sharing your story with our readers. It’s pretty safe to say we are now your biggest fans!
Header Photo – DeVante Frisco
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