Amena Elaine is ready to change the world. Her words exactly, “I’m ready to change the world.” Truth be told, she has already made strides in changing the world with every exuberant, fun-filled, world-aware, loving, intelligent, well-mannered, talented step she takes. She began it as a girl in New York, where she was born into a loving, hardworking, thoughtful, family. She sang in Church. She points out happily that her mother was always accepting, laughing and joyful while her father, also loving, was the stricter parent.
As the youngest of a large family, not only her parents loved, protected and pampered her but so did her sibs. With Amena, pampering bore no relationship to spoiling; it was just the lesson she needed to learn self-worth, to learn the personal power she has to add to the sum total of the world’s beauty and depth.
Walk into the San Francisco urban-chic Uniqlo store on Powell Street in San Francisco, and if you are lucky you will find Amena busy at work, caring what people want and helping them choose the style that best suits. She knows just what shelf has that item you need, and she goes after it with a jubilant, authoritative, ”That’s what I’m here for.”
She moved here from New York to accept a promotion. No surprise. She carries an aura of “promote me” with every step she takes. She is an original, multi-talented, beautiful force of nature, who walks into or through any space and, without seeming to do anything unusual, fills it with an energy that is simultaneously joyous and productive. To be in her presence is to know the world is on the right track.
That she is gorgeous is no more than the casual backdrop for her work. She bubbles out an enthusiasm for every visual and emotional occasion. She sings, plays the piano and the violin. Performed at Carnegie Hall. Uh-huh, pampering came with sensible expectations to practice where she shined, and her talent was buffed to a high gloss. She was headed for music as a career, but then there was the pull of fashion, that personal self-expression visible at first glance.
She was raised in the sophistication of New York but has traveled internationally and lived happily in environs other than her original locale. As the child of a loving multi-cultural home (French Haitian father, Jamaican mother), she may find this easier than most; Amena’s ability to be at home and comfortable everywhere she goes is one of her greatest strengths. She laughs as she says that she travels for the food and the clothes, but wherever she is, she documents how people are expressing themselves, fascinated as she is with how fashion changes from decade to decade, country to country and town to town, New York and San Francisco totally different, Hong Kong another story altogether. She carries inner comfort with her, wears it like a magic bracelet.
She approaches the whole business of couture with the soul of an artist, the mind of an anthropologist with a dash of philosopher. It is street fashion that informs her as to what people want to say, how they want to be seen, how they want to depart from the usual and what will soon enough become the usual crying out for another departure. To hear her talk about her life and philosophy is a lesson in life lived beautifully.
With her eye for the authentic, a feel for independence, and a love for personal creativity, Amena Elaine has plans to structure a site for displaying street fashion wherever she goes. The models, of course, are actual people living their urban lives. So if you see her on the street with a camera pointed at you, smile and know you are an example of just that creativity she wants to highlight.
Think that’s all? Hah! No, of course not. New to San Francisco, she already has a slew of followers and friends and is vivaciously leading the way not only in fashion but hosting art-shows (a tribute to Basquiat), and social events with such flair and depth that to say she is a cultural leader is an understatement. To hear her talk about the importance of etiquette as a way of making others feel graceful is a joy.
Has being 3,000 miles from home interfered with family life? No, it is Amena we are talking about, nothing interferes with any way of showing love. She says she goes home to see her family twice a year – couldn’t be away from them more than that. She says, “Art makes me happy.” It seems that everything makes this wonder-woman happy, and, what, in her hands one might ask, is not art?
Her love letter plans? Well, she is of a generation that was not raised on letters as the only way of real communication, but as she thinks about it and the love she has for her family and friends, she sees that what she posts on Facebook will translate easily into love letters that will last no matter the constant changes in technology that sometimes render old messages invisible.
If you are fortunate, you may find Amena one of these days soon. On the other hand, she may just find you, living life as she does with an open heart, open eyes, open mind, open arms and ready to embrace.
From me to you with love in the air,
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