Fashion and Beauty

Sitting down with: Roshan Isaacs

Like every social media story, my story with Roshan is something I’m sure many of you can relate too… I’ve never personally met her. We share lots of mutual friends, chatted on social media, and even attended many of the same events, but kept missing each other.

However, I’m such a fan of hers and the work she’s done, I can tell you that she’s out to change the world and shows no signs of slowing down.

Who is Roshan Isaacs?

How does one describe oneself. I’m a wanderer, explorer, dreamer, adventurer and very much an inquisitive being.

Screen Shot 2018-12-03 at 8.27.05 PM
Credit: styled by Roshan : makeup, wardrobe, turban
Photographer: Larry English Photography

You’re the Managing Director of Style Africa Fashion Network and you’re the regional director for the Council of Modest Fashion…what else am I missing?

I haven’t a clue myself.  I go where the wind blows me – free spirited. In terms of career, that would be right. In terms of studies, I’ve just completed Honours degree in Film and Media with a discipline in Costume, Makeup and Styling.  I love working with the sociology of dress, the psychology of the character, and looking at dress as a means of communication, which gives me great pleasure in creating the costume, makeup and styling, to reflect a characters unique personality

Tell us about the journey on bringing modest fashion to the fashion industry in South Africa?

It all started while standing in front of a magazine shelf in a store. I didn’t see any magazine that appealed to me as a modest women, a Muslim woman or a South African woman, and so began the dream of changing that reality.

In 2013 the company Style Africa was born for the sole purpose of being a voice in a crowded arena of foreign media that shared only a small percentage of who I was as a South African. Style Africa would be my way of expressing the identity of South Africans through fashion. Note that I never had an instagram page, never knew of insta people or anyone in the fashion industry, and here I was about to dive in, and take on the giant of the fashion industry. Along this journey I met up with people during my globe trotting escapades and made a point of meeting people within the fashion industry. I was then approached to represent South Africa as Country Manager of an Islamic global fashion and design industry body.  This allowed me the ability to push local designers into a global arena.  It was a long and difficult journey as I started to learn that modest fashion designers don’t have the monetary, production or business capacity to meet the demands of global retail chains, let alone the cost of flights, accommodation and a booth space at trade and fashion shows.  Still feeling very despondent I kept at it until I found a Council that was able to cater more to the needs of a South African design industry.  The Council of Modest Fashion was still in its infancy stage which allowed me the opportunity to influence the services a global council could have on countries like South Africa.  We launched the Africa leg of the Council of Modest Fashion in October this year in partnership with Wesgro at the modest fashion conference and exhibition at the Africa Halal Week in October 2018.

Credit: Photographer – Larry English

What made you want to be part of the Council of Modest Fashion Africa?

It was an easy decision. We have a mass of entrepreneurs entering the design industry every year. Seeing the potential reach in a global market and the homegrown talent of our designers, I wanted more for them and wanted to find ways for them to access more than just the local markets.

Together with an amazing team, who are all experts in their fields: Amiena Pastor (startups), Leila Bardien (Retail) and Zainab Slemang van Rijmenant (media and communication) and I (trade and export) were able to create a programme whereby you are developed as an entrepreneur to build a sound business, then move on to retail thinking and then global markets.

What fashion experience do you have?

I was born in the fashion industry, having a dad who was on the then Clothing Industry Training Board (CITB) in the 70’s and ran his own Fashion and Design school in the 80’s.  I learnt much about the industry and the art of fashion and design from a young age. I made reversible waist coats at school market days, my own clothes when at the age of 18 until I could afford to buy my own. When I did start buying – quality was always an issue.  I have a diploma in Fashion,Image and Personal Styling through the London School of Trends and recently completed my BA Honours Degree in Film and Media with a discipline in Costume, Makeup and Styling. I also did a short course in Personal Beauty where I first learnt the professional application of makeup and how to make skin and beauty products with natural ingredients.

SA fashion identity
Credit: styled by Roshan : makeup, wardrobe, turban
Photographer: Larry English Photography

What inspires you?

This may sound so cliché, but life inspires me. I’m excited about what I can learn and who I can learn from.  I’m inspired by people who create positive and spiritual interpretations of art in any form. Life is Art

How do you balance your personal and work life?

Preparing, scheduling, planning, prioritising  – these are key.  I have a year planner, study planner, kids schedule, family schedule, work schedule, blog schedule, instagram schedule and they’re all colour coordinated.  There is a priority status for each schedule – Of course family comes first!

Describe a typical day for you?

No day is the same, and I’m usually doing more than one thing at the same time.

04:02     Fajr saulah

04:15     Can’t go back to sleep –check mail, social media, prep posts

06:15     Prep breakfast, pack kids lunch, get ready for the day, take kids to school.

08:00    Have breakfast. Start checking and responding to mail(this can take between an hour or three depending on what is required from the emails)

10:00     Work on Thesis

12:00     If possible start on blog post | update Instagram | Attend meetings | events | recently I’ve had dentist appointments

13:00     Pick up kid 1, feed kid 1, perform Thuhr prayer, check in on their day, have a shake, tea and water (cause I’m on a healthy eating plan), answer whatsapp messages.

14:00     Pick up kid 2, feed kid 2, check in on their day,answer Whatsapp messages

14:30     Complete any work outstanding or follow up on email

16:00     Drop kid 1 at madrassah, get dinner started, perform Asr prayer, answer whatsapp messages

17:00     Fetch kid 1, drop kid 2 at madrassah, set table for dinner

18:00     Usually everyone starts arriving home – we eat, followed by tea time

19:30     Perform Maghrieb prayer as a family, get kids ready for bed

20:00     get son to sleep, reading, chatting, until eventually he falls asleep

21:00     respond to email and whatsapp messages.

22:00     work on thesis

23:30     eventually fall asleep

Outlook on a full week: Some days I’m attending classes, attending a full or half day shoot, or event or media briefing. Sometimes the day unfolds with a few surprises.

What would you say the future of South African fashion looks like?

Vibrant, refreshing with a strong influence on cultural identity.  Young designers are shaping the identity of South Africa through fashion and I want to be in the front row capturing it all.

How would you describe your personal style?

Everyday is colourful, Business is classic and smart, Weekends are flats, jeans, dresses, and shirts.  I’m not much of a sweater person, I love stylish tops.

If you could go back in time and tell younger Roshan anything, what would it be?

Girl anything you want can be achieved, stay focused on your goals, be patient, learn from everything and every person.  Believe in yourself. Every person has a purpose. You can only achieve your greatest potential when you are authentically you.

Credit: Styled by Roshan : makeup, wardrobe, turban
Photography: Larry English Photography

If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?

To use the full capacity of my brain.

What are your plans for 2019?

I’ll be finishing my international diploma in makeup artistry, start freelancing in the film industry, awaken my company StyleAfrica (since it too was on a year sabbatical), build the Council of Modest Fashion programmes together with the team, and hopefully space things out enough to breathe in 2019 (which is highly unlikely).

What message do you have for women out there?

There’s no limit to what you can achieve, unless you limit yourself. It is also important to know your limits, and test them when you are unsure.  No one has the power to dictate your life.  We all have a purpose, make sure you are fulfilling yours.

If you could invite any 5 people to dinner, who would it be and why?

I live in the present, spending time with my family is super precious, so my children (2), my husband (1), and either of my parents (my mom and dad or my mom in law and dad in law).  These are the people who contribute most to my success.  Even when it’s difficult they are supportive. You’ve got to love the ones you’re with.  I wouldn’t swap them for the world.

Roshan handles more social media account than one, see for yourself:

Instagram : roshanisaacs | styleafricafn | theglobalturban | councilofmodestfashion

Facebook: I am Roshan Isaacs

Twitter: skylightri


Soulful, Inspiring, Modest:

Style Africa Fashion Network:

Council of Modest Fashion:


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