Complexd Women

A day in the life of cosmopolitan women around the world


Name: Nyima Pratten

Age: 24

Occupation: Student

Place of birth: Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

Current residence: London

My father is Tibetan Chinese and my mother is Scottish. I was born and brought up in the UK although I have spent the majority of my early 20s living and studying in China.

I have just graduated from London College of Fashion where I studied postgraduate Fashion Buying at LCF. I also studied Management and Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham and gained a Chinese Government Scholarship to study Mandarin at Fudan University in Shanghai.

I have just finished a work experience placement on the Culture Show at the BBC and I am currently a community blogger for London360 on the Community Channel so my average days are spent researching new topics for the blog. I love running and recently completed the London 10k with a friend to raise money for Scope, a great charity that supports disabled people. We have now set our sights on running the Great Wall Half Marathon in China next year!

This week my life has been taken over by Olympic Opening Ceremony rehearsals, which are very exciting indeed! I witnessed the Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony, which told the story of China. The performers had been preparing for the ceremony for over 10 months and it was such a spectacular event with an enormous budget and made a clear statement to the rest of the world that China had arrived! For many reasons the London Opening Ceremony will be a completely different affair, many of the performers are volunteers and therefore it just isn’t possible to put on a show of the same scale as China, which was so labour intensive. Saying that, Danny Boyle is a genius and brilliant at what he does. He is very innovative and I am sure that London’s Opening Ceremony will more than live up to expectations.

It feels so great to be a part of the Olympic Opening! After receiving confirmation that I would be performing in the Opening Ceremony there was one final audition so that performers could be cast in specific roles. Soon after that I got to meet my ‘family’ who I will be preforming with. All the members of my family are blue eyed and fair-haired with ruddy complexions so I really stick out like a sore Eurasian thumb, so I hope I will be spotted easily.

The rehearsals for my segment started in May. We originally only had one rehearsal a week, which fell on a weekend and made it easy to juggle every day life with ceremony rehearsals. But as the ceremony drew closer rehearsals were increased to 2 to 3 times a week becoming more of a commitment. Even so, it has been a great experience and I have met such a wide range of people from all walks of like, who all, like me, are very excited for the London 2012 Olympics. I will definitely be supporting team GB throughout the games! I’m looking forward to watching the diving; I think that Tom Daley has the experience and the skills to win big this year.

I am a Complexd Woman because I embrace both sides of my cultural heritage be that dancing the Highland Fling in Scottish Highland Dancing competitions to spinning Tibetan prayer wheels for good luck.

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In the last issue we interviewed Artist, Cultural Ambassador and Activist Yewande. This woman of strength spearheads campaigns to make a difference in the lives of young people at home and in Africa through her words and music. Read full interview on page 34-41 here

We recently caught up with Yewande to find out what movements she has made since our interview.


The U. S. State Department awarded me with a second grant to return to Namibia and Botswana, Africa to expand the programs I started last  summer with U. S. embassies and NGO’s in both countries. These programs will continue to focus on empowering AIDS orphans and local leaders and will take place this Fall 2012. You can follow us on


I had the honour of performing for the First Lady of Niger and the King of Nigeria at the prestigious Allen Etiquette Institute in Atlanta, GA. Both dignitaries were visiting during a special economic development trip to the United States.


Obama documentarian Tony Regusters (Obama in Ghana) interviewed me for his WPFW 89.3FM radio show Sounds of Brazil and Gemal Wood’s award-winning docu-series The Angle Show. We talked about my humanitarian organization’s unique methodology using music to promote socio-economic development for  vulnerable youth from Africa to the Americas.


 Nearly 7 years since my debut, my label Phoenix Records released my first full-length album, Rebirth . The 12-track album, written by me and co-produced with Marc Baldwin, is the album that I have always dreamt of making. You can download Rebirth on sites including iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, eMusic, Spotify and visit our fan page for updates here



The Soilders 4 Change tour invites college students to join me in the fight to end global poverty. Students will become a member of the Soldiers 4 Change Youth Activism Project and live college tour. Proceeds will benefit the ongoing empowerment initiatives for vulnerable children around the world in exchange for a live concert, leadership programs and internships. The first 10 schools to register by August 1, 2012 can participate. For more details click here

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Ladies of leisure have the right amount of time and money to spend on maintaining their ‘fresh to death’ look. Shiny tousled tresses, buffed nails and ‘I have a facial once a week’ skin are a given. Workingwomen on the other hand are so busy earning a living, a spa day is a once in a very blue moon treat. And, even if they have the disposable cash the problem is finding the time to dedicate to being pampered.

While driving past streets lined with hair salons and beauty spa’s in a more local part of town populated with mainly working women and busy mothers. I couldn’t help but wonder how these businesses made a profit, remained competitive and survive among women who don’t have as much leisure time and pampering pennies. I popped into my local spa to have a chat with owner Sian Clements who shares her experiences and the realities of owning a beauty spa.

Are you a born and bred Londoner?

I was brought up in Surbiton – the supposed home of the television series, ‘The Good Life’ so its real stockbroker / Surrey commuter belt. I went to an all girls’ school and had a very middle class upbringing. I had horses and my dad drove a Volvo estate so yes we lived up to all the clichés!

When and why did you open LifeSpa?

I purchased the business from the original owner in 2007 when I heard she was selling. I admired her and how she set up the business, so it was an exciting challenge to take over. In the first couple of years we stormed through and took the revenue to an all-time high raising the businesses profile. Then, the recession hit. It has dented us slightly, but all in all we are still doing very well.

Why a Spa?

I get to work in a business that I am very passionate about and I absolutely love my job. I look forward to coming to work every day and I know many people would love to be in that position. It’s an industry that grows bigger and bigger each year and evolves constantly. When so many other industries in this country are in decline, it’s rewarding to be a part of an industry that gets stronger and stronger each year. After all British business mogul Lord Alan Sugar famously said, if he had his time again he would have gone into the spa industry.

So is business always booming?

There are challenges, one of them being the fact that we are selling a luxury service in a cash strapped world. Trying to convince people that they need spa treatments is quite difficult and every £1 we earn at the moment is a £1 we truly deserve!

 What happens when women stop pampering themselves?

I focus on re-education and try to get ideas from experienced people who have a much better knowledge of how to ensure longevity in this industry. When I get despondent I exercise, try to de-stress a bit and then try to see things from a different perspective.

How has LifeSpa changed your life?

I have recently been asked by our governing body BABTAC (British Association of Beauty Therapists and Cosmetologists) to join on their board of directors, which came about by entering the Professional Beauty Awards. We were nominated for the category of ‘Best Day Spas’ in the entire country, which I was extremely proud of. The judge who was one of the board of directors was so impressed by my business knowledge she asked me to join them. That was the moment I thought – I’ve arrived!

What makes you Complexd?

I’m a woman of course! Never take us for granted because we are capable of anything. As I heard recently ‘the only thing we can’t do is to stick our bottoms out of a top floor window and go back outside and throw stones at it’ anything else is possible!

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Name: Paje Pokjowy

Age: 28

Place of birth: Toronto, ON Canada

Current residence: Niagara Falls, ON Canada

My father is of Ukrainian and English descent and my mother is English. I used to love dancing when I was a little girl so from the age of two I took regular jazz and ballet classes. My fondest memory is of my family coming to my annual dance recitals and greeting me with a huge bouquet of flowers after my performance.

I wake up as soon as my three year old son Preston gets up and we start the day by watching cartoons together. I am very fortunate that I get to spend so much time with him because of the flexibility I have as a professional make-up artist.

When it comes to Bridal make-up weekends are my busiest days. I love hearing and seeing the reaction of a Bride when she sees herself in the mirror for the first time. When their eyes light up and they have that ear to ear smile, I know that I’ve done my job in helping them look and feel beautiful on one of the most important days of their life.

The best part of being a woman for me is being a mother. I didn’t know how much love a person could have for another human being until I had my son.

My advice to other women would be to go after what you want, no matter what. Don’t be afraid of the unknown, rejection, or the possibility of being hurt. If you want something, the only way of getting it is to go out and make it happen!

I am a ComplexdWoman because I strive to be offbeat and unique. I don’t like conforming to what’s considered normal or the current trend. It’s in my nature to be different.

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Before I conceptualised Complexd, I did a lot of research and reading about the stereotypical standards of beauty in our society. Complexd was always about breaking the beauty ideals that were continuously being reinforced in visual media. When it came to my dissertation, I decided to focus on a specific standard of beauty, which caused women to bleach their skin.

My research, which looked at Slavery, Socialisation, Feminism and Colour Supremacy lead me to the term Colourism, which defines individuals who believe they are superior or inferior to people of their own race because of their complexion. I read some extremely insightful books during my dissertation and photographs taken by Barbadian photographer Alyson Holder ignited a lot of the unanswered questions I still have about the topic.

Alyson recently unveiled a series of portraits at the ArtSplash gallery in Barbados that evoked questions surrounding beauty and complexion. Her aim was to encourage women to love themselves as they are and not wish to be or look like someone else.

If you are still struggling with your identity, beauty and your body I highly recommend Naked by Ayana Byrd and Akiba Solomon. Although it focuses on black women, it’s a must read of all women. It was and still is one of the most empowering books I’ve read!

“The only thing as torturous as holding a standard of beauty you can never fully achieve is holding a standard of consciousness that is sometimes impossible to maintain.” Asali Solomon

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Portrait by Merve Hasman

Name: Nadira V Persaud
Age: 39
Occupation: Make-up Artist
Place of birth: London, UK
Current residence: London, UK

My father is from Guyana and my mother is Trinidadian. They both decided to remain in UK, but present in my upbringing was a bit of everything. We had the best of British, Guyanese and Trinidadian culture, which has given me a broader outlook on life. My siblings and I are all very close in age and I always wonder how my mum managed it. I am my parents third child; I have two older sisters and a younger brother, who was my partner in crime.

Nadira on the far left 

My alarm can go off at any time depending on the day ahead; for commercial work I am often up at 5am, for photo-shoots 7am and on rare days off or when I’m working from home I have a little lie in to as late as 9am. Being Coeliac means I have to avoid gluten and certain grains so in the mornings I have my special bread with a slice of meat and black Italian coffee. I can’t be as stylish as I want to because I always get make-up all over my clothes so I would describe my style as comfortable casual and a bit anti fashion.

Photographed by Karan Kapoor/Painted 1/Model Rosie

Art and History have always been my main passions, mainly because they were my strongest subjects at school. After panicking about what to do, I eventually got onto the Theatre Make Up course at the renowned London College of Fashion, which supplied me with in-depth knowledge on the history of make-up artistry, cosmetic science and of course, wig-making.

Photographed by Karan Kapoor/Body and Shine/ Model Shumi

This was good grounding, but the shock of how big the industry was lowered my self-esteem. I wasn’t sure whether I was cut out to be a make-up artist, but I soldiered on sometimes with no money and lack of self-belief.

Photographed by Caroline Molloy/My signature look/Model Karen

Eventually, the momentum began to build when I started to get recommended for jobs and I progressed gradually. Even though I didn’t follow the usual pattern of assisting lots of other make-up artist I survived and strongly believe there is no strength where there is no struggle.

I do both fashion, advertising and publicity work such as working on commercials, videos and with celebrities. I made up the face of Gordon Ramsey who is such a gentleman and not the hot-tempered man on TV, at least not when I’ve worked with him.

Women are multifaceted and intriguing specimens. Make-up artist can be stereotyped as girly, high maintenance or quick to judge, but I am far from it. I am a believer in enhancing what you have if you want too, it’s your choice. The best thing I ever told myself was to be comfortable in my own skin. Own it, wear it and be it!

I am a ComplexdWoman because I am an average woman among much greatness and its so nice be comfortable with that and not ask for any more or any less.

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Mission Catwalk is a reality TV series set in Jamaica aimed at discovering and developing talented fashion designers. The show recently announced the winner of it’s second series, which was opened up to designers across the Caribbean. The design drama that each episode entails has raised its profile and the show has gained popularity across the Caribbean. We ask Executive Producer and Host Keneea Linton-George about the overall mission.

Why did you launch Mission Catwalk and what’s it all about?

I launched Mission Catwalk in March 2011 on Jamaica’s popular news and entertainment channel TVJ as a means to promote local fashion designers. I wanted to provide them with the opportunity to gain international exposure and additional support, training and funding.

Design by Gregory Williams winner of Season 2 – judged by resident judges Novia McDonald-Whyte and Carlton Brown

Winner season 1 Shena Carby (L) Keneea-Linton-George and Winner season 2 Gregory Williams (R)

But you are also a fashion designer?

Yes, and I still am, but my passion for the industry goes beyond creating garments for my clients. I’ve been involved in TV productions and designing simultaneously for the past four years so I decided to use my skills and resources to produce a show that would promote and build the local fashion industry. The response to Mission Catwalk has been overwhelming. Jamaica is very fashion forward and very receptive to a program of this nature.

Keneea receives her applause alongside her sister Kenisha Linton at Caribbean Fashion Week 

Full cast including designers across the region from episode 2

Why have you gone from representing Jamaican designers to designers across the Caribbean?

The pilot season focused on Jamaica simply to test the market and garner support, but it has always been our aim to go Caribbean wide. Having a design competition that included designers across the region gave us a wider pool of talent to choose from and allowed our diverse viewers to identify with the different characters found in the Caribbean. Ultimately we want to promote a unified approach to Caribbean fashion because I believe we can have greater impact as a region.

There are great benefits for winners of the show, was it easy getting support from Government agencies and/or sponsors in Jamaica and other islands?

Garnering support for the first season was challenging however, the success of season one has prompted support from a number of corporate sponsors and Jampro. However, there is still more to be done to attract government support for the industry.

Up-coming designers like Crystal Powell competing in Mission Catwalk had the opportunity to create full collections and showcase them at Caribbean Fashion Week. 

What is the over-all Mission?

The over-all mission is to provide the training, opportunity and exposure needed to allow our Caribbean designers to compete and have a presence in the international market.

Watch episodes of Mission Catwalk here 

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Photographer/Retoucher/Musician Brit Wollard featured in our COMPLEXD WOMEN (page 98-105) issue is undoubtedly Complexd. As a Photographer and Retoucher she self-experiments by transforming herself into convincing characters…

Model: Brit Woollard/MUA: Saleha Abbasi – Goddess Makeup/Mehndi: Moniza Abbasi/Wardrobe & Accessories: Saleha & Moniza Abbasi/Hair Colour: Tara Allen

Photography, Post-Processing, and MUA: Brit Woollard/Candy: Albanese Confectionery

Model & Wardrobe & Styling: Brit Wollard/MUA: Teresa Hagen © Brit Woollard Photography, all rights reserved.

And on top of all that talent she has an enchanting voice!

Listen to her music here 

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I love following up with people we have featured in previous issues. A year on from the cover of our first anniversary issue, mother and daughter cover duo Rachel and Rosalia Ritfeld are throughly enjoying life in Suriname after relocating shortly after our interview (pg 26-33 of Celebration issue)

It’s always nice to hear that future plans have materialised because it reassures you that planning ahead doesn’t mean your restricting the natural flow of life, it’s more about setting a goal and reaching it.

I felt proud watching Rachel being interview on a popular daytime TV in my home country Grenada. It was clear to see that she was beaming with happiness, having found a sense of fulfilment in her role as a mother and wife.

‘What’s most important to me is to know that, and feel like I have been the best mother and wife that I could have been. My heart and my grounding is within my family. I’m not interested in what title that will give me except my own satisfaction that I gave that 100%’

Watch the full interview on Chit Chat Grenada with producer/host Lexan Fletcher below.

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While obtaining her B.F.A. in Photography from Parsons School of Design, Californian native Annabel Clark photographed her mother, the late actress Lynn Redgrave, while she was undergoing treatment for Breast Cancer. She now teaches photography at the Creative Center, a nonprofit organization that provides free art workshops to people living with cancer and other chronic illnesses.

Best described as a documentation of life, she fully commits to her work and subjects, taking the viewer on a journey through intimate captures of their lives. She photographed conjoined twins Carmen and Lupita for four years in a bid to show how normal their life was and to change the way people view conjoined twins.

Carmen on being stared at by strangers:

 “They stare at me like I’m crazy, I stare at them like they’re crazy. Treat people the way you want to be treated: they want to treat me like that, I’ll treat them like that.”

View photographs of Carmen and Lupita over fours years here

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