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November 25, 2021
A day in Mukisa Mbunsu’s life is ever-changing. Today could be gracing the reimagined catwalks of Melbourne Fashion Week capped by drinks with girls, and tomorrow might involve a couple of work-adjacent emails followed by a good book in bed.
For this model/creative hybrid residing in Melbourne and balancing a busy schedule of content deadlines with modelling opportunities and important industry mingling, the elusive grasp on ‘authenticity’ can easily slip away. When you attach your personal profile and digital projection-of-self to a separate entity (like a brand), it can become difficult to distinguish who you are, what matters to you, and how true you stay to yourself.
For Mukisa, the “ups and downs” of navigating freelance life have been prolific, but they’re the learning curves that have shaped the way she operates today, and the opportunities she carefully handpicks. To feel aligned with the people and products she aligns herself with as a creative is the ultimate goal, and this integrity stems back to Mukisa’s heritage. From the women who shaped her, to overcoming the odious ‘illegitimacy’ of a career in modelling and forging a holding-space of her very own, Mukisa radiates what it means to show 'Moxie'.
Here, we get into the why, the how and the what-the-hell-do-you-do-when-your-period-gets-in-the-way of Mukisa’s on-duty and off-duty life. The biggest takeaway? A ‘passion over profit’ philosophy might be the ultimate way to unlock your true potential in this little life...
MOXIE: Mukisa, we adore your style. For those unacquainted, how would you describe it?
MUKISA: The best way to describe my style would be simple, timeless and relatable. I tend to go for a more minimal aesthetic that’s comfortable, but still fashionable. Timeless pieces like denim jeans, a turtleneck and a little black dress are essential to my closet, because each piece is easy to style in various ways. As long as what I’m wearing makes me look and feel good, then that’s enough for me.
And how much has your work life changed or evolved over the last year? What are you currently focusing on with your content creation etc?
The biggest change so far — and I think I speak for everyone on this — has been trying to work around a pandemic. I moved to Melbourne from Perth, which was a big transition at first. I went from working at a call centre while modelling on the side to walking the runway for some incredible designers at Melbourne Fashion Week, while getting to work alongside such beautiful creative people who are just as ambitious and driven as I am.
It’s definitely been a bumpy ride, full of ups and downs (more downs than I care to admit), but because of that I’m truly grateful to the people and opportunities that have come my way and can only hope for the best.
I took a much needed break from creating content to take a moment to myself where I’m not stressing over deadlines, taking the perfect photo or checking how many likes I got in an hour. Now that I’m slowly easing back into it, I’m mostly focusing on putting myself out there again and creating content that feels true to me. I love the line of work I’m in, but I think it’s easy to get lost in it all and shift your focus from the thing that matters the most: being authentic.
What's important to you when you work/collaborate with brands? What qualities or values do you audit them for?
The biggest thing that’s important to me when working with brands is whether or not I actually like what I’m promoting, and whether the brand correlates with me and my day-to-day life. I look out for brands that are unique, bold and authentic.
Tell us about your upbringing and how it has influenced the life you lead today, who you are, and the work you do...
Culture and tradition hold a special place in my heart. I am inspired by many people, especially the women who paved the way for me. I have so many stories from my mother who had to literally fight for me to be in Australia to have the countless opportunities I have today.
My parents and grandparents lived and grew up in a tough environment, and it was hard to just get the bare minimum. That’s why it came as a surprise when I told my mother I wanted to pursue modelling. Growing up, it was never seen as a respectable or legitimate career. The only options were to become a doctor, engineer or lawyer. It wasn’t until my early teen years when my mother started encouraging and pushing me towards modelling. ‘Passion over profit’ is what she told me, which has stuck with me today. I’m reminded every day of how privileged I am, that I am strong, that I’m surrounded by opportunities, and I get to do what I love. I’m extremely grateful for the environment I grew up in. It helped shape the person I am today and taught me great values, and ones that I’ll always carry with me.
How do you structure your weeks right now? What percentage is work versus play?
No week is the same, so I always make sure I have a balanced schedule. Self-care is really important to me, so I try to give myself at least 1-2 hours a day to clock out of life and do whatever I need to do to feel calm and relaxed...whether that’s going for a walk, reading, painting, listening to music, etc. I do love myself a cheeky night out with the girls, so I normally wait until the weekend comes around — that way I don’t have to worry about going to work hungover, lol.
Where can we find you escapading/eating/moving/visiting in Melbourne, now that liberties have resumed?
My go to place is Rooftop Bar right in the city, it’s a whole vibe. They serve amazing burgers, the bartenders will become your new besties, they play really cool music and the people that go there are so chilled and lovely which makes it even better.
Someone you think encapsulates what it means to have 'Moxie'?
I’ve been following Kathleen Ebbs (@kathebbs) for quite some time now and they have pretty much become one of my comfort influencers. During lockdown, I started listening to their podcast, “Conversations with Kath”, and instantly became of awe of how self aware, authentic and overall beautiful they are, especially when starting a conversation about things like being queer, menstruation, sex and heartbreak.
Lastly, give us an honest rundown of your kind of period/cycle. What's your relationship with it like?
I have a love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with my period. One month we’re besties, and the next it’s a battlefield. One thing that I’ve taken away from my period over the years is to listen and be patient with my body. Some days, I’ll just stay in bed rewatching Twilight, and on other days I might be more productive with my time and get things done (keyword: might). Either way, I’ve learned to take my time with myself during my cycle and to love my body for all it is. A woman’s body is incredible, and I’m still learning to be kinder to myself.
Images via @kxsaa on Instagram.
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