Fáizah Akindojuromi, also known by her maiden name Shafi, is a Creative Concepts Director and Producer at HEAT, and the curator of “POLAROIDS”, the first book by Places+Faces launching this weekend to celebrate the past 9 years since its inception.
We caught up with Fáiz to discuss her inspirations, the start of her journey in the fashion industry, how she and the brand came to curate this book and her advice for anyone else looking to do what she does.
If you’d like a chance to get your hands on a copy before the general release, as well as some exclusive merch and a first look at imagery, then you can head to the Art Exhibition being held this weekend at Protein Studios.
How did you get into the fashion industry? Has it always been a passion of yours?
I used to draw outfits and give them to my mum. We would plan a weekend where we would drive to the market and spend a whole day searching for the right fabrics and trimmings – these were my earliest memories.
I also used to help her sew and through watching her I learned how to pattern cut and use a sewing machine. I guess the creativity stuck with me! I went on to study fashion through high school, college and into university – with my mum in full support of my decisions!
Growing up, I never knew specifically what I wanted to do within the industry so in my gap year when I was applying for internships and trying to get my foot in the door, I would apply for anything and everything that I thought was interesting – whether that be styling, pattern cutting, creative assisting, general runner or even a fit model.
The internship route wasn’t working out for me and I wanted something more stable so I began university in the most broad fashion course I could find – Fashion Marketing. Surprisingly, I didn’t actually get into the industry from anything I had learnt at university, it was through the connections I had made over my years on social media. I was always on Twitter and Instagram since their inception, keeping up with the trends and London fashion scene.
My friend Ari Chanoux (who I had known from social media for years prior) knew that I was interested and eager to start my journey in the industry and generously gave me the opportunity to help out at the A-COLD-WALL* Paris Fashion Week Showroom in 2017. A few months later a similar opportunity came up where I was able to help out at the PLACES+FACES London Pop-up Shop and I guess it all started from there.
In Summer 2017 you officially joined P+F as an Executive Creative Assistant to Ciesay (co-founder), what attracted you to the company at that time and what was this role like?
I didn’t really know what to expect when I first started working for PLACES+FACES to be honest, I was kind of playing it by ear and trying to soak everything in.
From the two days of working at their Soho Pop-up Shop I knew that the job was going to be fun. The brand has a huge cult following and I was so intrigued to know the backstory of how they’ve achieved so much and got to the stage where kids would comfortably wait hours in a queue just to spend a few minutes browsing through the products in the shop and leave happy.
I hadn’t ever done a role similar to what I was doing with Ciesay at the time. We would brainstorm photoshoot ideas together, scout models and locations, plan pop-up shops around the world, literally anything creative – I was his go-to person.
Upon joining how did your role progress, and was it more of an adaptation to the growth of the company or were you actively seeking out more responsibility?
I would say a bit of both. I have always been super organised and able to multitask effectively so it just came natural to me that if something that wasn’t necessarily part of my job role needed to be done – I would just do it and I kept at it because it just… worked. This was definitely the case for a few of the roles I had taken which included managing VIP services like seeding allocation and guest lists, styling direction on set and creating press releases.
Whilst the company grew over the years; as a core senior member my responsibility naturally heightened also. I welcomed the workload as an opportunity to learn more aspects of the trade and understand the brand that I love a little bit more.
From joining the team in 2017 to leaving in 2022, my job role had progressed immensely.
Alongside becoming Editor for P+F Magazine (Vol.2 to Vol.5), organising and managing all photoshoots for the brands magazine, new collections and socials. I would also liaise with clients, help organise and set up pop-up shops and parties around the world, manage all of P+F’s special projects including brand collaborations, book launches, zines, and any other creative project P+F did.
Although POLAROIDS is just one book, it is an accumulation of 9 years’ work. Can you tell us how this came about and the idea behind it?
PLACES+FACES started through Ciesay and Soulz’ love of photography, over the years the duo have taken thousands and thousands of pictures between them – most of which the public have never seen.
I think it is very important to document and preserve their archives through a printed medium that can live on forever and people can appreciate and hold on to as a collectors piece for years to come.
POLAROIDS highlights Ciesay and Soulz’ relationships with artists, actors, models, cultural icons and contemporaries through their photography.
What was it like creating the book for you?
Is there any particular imagery which stood out to you?
Yes, loads! There were a lot of polaroids that brought back memories of the shoots which was nice to think about when creating the book. I would say the main images that stood out to me were Luka Sabbat’s two polaroids – one from 2014 and the other from 2021, A$AP Ferg and Virgil Abloh.
As mentioned, you were the editor of P+F magazines volumes 2-5 – what is one thing you learned during that process and applied to the curation of POLAROIDS?
To concentrate on the details and be super thorough throughout the book, there is no room for mistakes.
I know you have spoken on imposter syndrome, and I’m sure many reading can relate. How do you deal with it whilst also navigating through the fashion industry?
My husband, KwolleM, said it best “Imposter syndrome is just being so lit you can’t believe it – we move.” I repeat this in my head and keep it pushing.
At the end of the day, it’s just your anxieties and doubt creeping in, as long as you know you’re doing your best at whatever you’re doing and constantly trying to improve – what else can you do?
If you had to describe yourself and your work in three words, what would you say?
I only need one, meticulous.
What advice would you give to young creatives wanting to achieve some of the things you have in their own career?
Get yourself out there, don’t be afraid to reach out to the people you look up to and ask to shadow/assist them on projects – you never know if you don’t ask. Spend your time learning things that will help you in the future (Photoshop/InDesign etc). Welcome the opportunities that come your way that you think you can learn something from and soak it all in – give it your all.
Oh, and NEVER assume things… ASK the questions.
What is next for you?
I am the Creative Concepts Director & Producer at HEAT – who have recently had investment from LVMH. So expect some cool things coming your way!
Maybe you’ll catch me involved in some other cool projects too but you’ll have to wait and see on that one.
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