Women We Admire - Annabel Onyango

Some of you may remember Annabel Onyango from the beautiful images she created using our Kichana wrap. We collaborated on the theme of ‘The Hug’ which speaks of how the current times we are living in make us crave connection and what this means to her.

We couldn’t miss this opportunity to get to know her a little better, here is a little glimpse into her world.

1. Who is Annabel Onyango?
I’m a Fashion & Interiors Stylist based in Nairobi with a career spanning 15 years. I’m also the mom of two young boys.

2. What is beauty to you?
Beauty is the magic in a person or a thing that makes it stand out, that makes it special. To me, the more authentic someone or something is, the deeper that magic radiates and the more beautiful they become.

3. What stories are important for you to transmit through your work as a stylist?
As a Stylist whose career has been greatly shaped by place, I hope my work conveys a sense of effortless and authentic African-ness.
We all know by now that clothes have meaning embedded in them. Styled wardrobe gives a lot away about the Stylist’s values and their perspective on the world. A truly great Stylist can weave a visual narrative simply through their choice of products and brands and how they use them.
By working with mostly designers, brands, and fashion products that are made here in Africa, I’m making a statement about what I think is important, what I think is valuable. If I pair luxury brands with more middle-of-the-range ones, I’m speaking to the importance of quality and accessibility co-existing within the same space.
If I actively shun mass-produced fast-fashion items, I’m rejecting that system of production for something that’s more conscious, slow, environmentally sensitive, and empowering to small-scale, local producers.
These are all values I hope my audience will absorb.

4. What is your favorite place in Africa?
Ah, depends on which day you ask! I’ve lived in North, East, West, and Southern Africa; they’re literally all incredible! But I have to give it to my own Kenya, where my parents were born and their parents were born.
It’s not a perfect place by any means, but I have a lot of family history here, and the traditions I will pass on to my kids are from here. Which is why it has to be my favourite place in the world.
Home really is where my heart is!
There is also something very unique, warm, and alluring about this place. When you travel outside of Nairobi you get a sense of how physically and culturally majestic this country really is. If we’re being specific, Lamu (the tiny Swahili island off the Kenyan coast) might just be my favourite place in Africa.

5. What is one lesson you have learned that you would like to share with other women?
As I grow older, I realize that women really do carry the world. As mothers and grandmothers, and aunties, and primary caregivers - it is their very considerable efforts that hold everything together. Society will have you believe that men are bigger, faster, stronger, and that somehow those things are most important; but it isn’t true. In building a life that’s REAL and valuable, it’s the “soft” skills (which women consistently excel at) that really matter – compassion, empathy, communication, balance, teamwork, patience, self-control, integrity, humility, gratitude...
Women are naturally the glue of life. I only really internalized this when I became a mom.
I’ve also learned that we women are not at all confined to the box that society has dictated for us.
I don’t have to cook, wear heels, have long hair, or be apologetic to be a real woman.