We women need our heroes. Without a shadow we do.
The plight of women, which is very much connected to the plight of our world, needs voice and it needs the drumbeat of a live wire encouragement. Winnielle Pereira, founder of Irie Lioness Boutique and Winnielle Model Management beats that drum better than most (men or women) I know.
I feel that especially in a GLOCAL universe, it is truly sometimes the only conversation that matters, the only connection that is guaranteed. The contact may be fleeting, but the impact is far-reaching.
I have been reading Winnielle as the Irie Lioness on Facebook since October 2010, through status updates They are purely positive vibrations. I like her call and response campaigns so insistently funneled through social media. It is the pains, sufferings, battles and victories which I read in every word, every song choice and every expression.
There is power in consistency. I’ve said this to her and still throw all my substance behind the following commentary: “You are a blazingly beautiful woman in word and deed! … [F]rom my heart to yours. It’s a consistent energy and remedy you offer. There’s power in consistency. I’ve never seen you lower yourself and its a beautiful thing because you are defining and redefining yourself. woman to woman. Iron sharpens iron. I recognize and I appreciate what Jah allows even through this space.”
There is something about her. A quality that is unnamed, that cannot quite be captured because it is unique to her and I think emanates from the soul of who she is and is becoming. She strikes me as a woman with a story then, and that is saying a great deal, because I have this keen awareness of the breadth and breath of women as experience itself.
Winnielle pours passion, power and perseverance into her persuasion. And I am persuaded. It is in her determination. I like her vernacular. Her response to her calling. She is attuned. She is listening. She is a phenomenal woman. I think she knows this. I hope she knows it. I very much wanted to know her story, what she would let loose, after so much good food had aleady been shared over the better part of a year. I invite you to get to know Winnielle. She is a dawta, mother, entrepreneur etc etc in any order you wish. Ultimately she is wombman… naturally.
Who is Winnielle and how did she become the Irie Lioness?
Winnielle is a wombman who naturally strives to live in her own path. My name is ‘African in origin meaning victorious lady’ and it motivates me highly, sets the tone in this life, my core. I am a humble dawta. I love to love… imperfect but striving for perfection in my own eyes. My perfection is being happy in what I have done and not to the standards of anyone. As I feel happy then it is perfect. I am just a simple African who is proud to be a black queen no matter what comes and goes in my life. I love i n i. Irie Lioness is the wombman I became when I learned to see my struggles not as something bad in my life but as a reality that will only make me stronger and wiser. So I move through life having an aura of irieness no matter the circumstance. I smile because its easier and prettier and makes me feel better no matter the hates and grudges and rocky roads. I still trod irie, as a lioness would.
Tell me a bit about your humble beginnings. Where were you born, raised?
Born in the island of 365 beaches–Antigua and raised in Sugar City St Kitts. Growing up humbly, I was always involved in something. I just couldn’t sit at home after school and do nothing. Sports was my first love. I did just about any sport, hence why I was a bit on the tomboyish vibe during my early teen years. Yeah, funny thinking about it… baggy jeans, oversized shirts… hanging with the boys. Still preferring to hang and reason with the boys to this day.
What were some of your dreams as a youth? Who did you dream of being? Does your career and life now come close to those dreams?
My most passionate dream was to become a model. However, I also dreamed of becoming a hair stylist. I was never taken by anyone in particular; I just loved to see beautiful and skilled women on the runway and in photos. Tyra. Naomi. Kate Moss. Iman… Many others. I looked to them for inspiration but never ever looked a anyone wanting to be them, as models was only a percentage of who they were and therefore I couldn’t want to be anyone that I didn’t know. I just admired many people for their beauties and skills. To this day, indeed I have been blessed with the determination to accomplish my dreams. While in high school I began to work with one of the best cosmetologists on the island (St. Kitts) Amoy Baird. She taught me plenty! I did that for some years and during those years I also pursued my dream as a model beyond my expectations and to this day I execute both skills attained when needed because they are of me. I am humble for despite my life path, I made the best of all my dreams and did them positively.
You’ve modeled extensively. How long did you work as a model? What were some highlights and how did achieving your dream of becoming a model prepare you for Winnielle Model Management the 1st and now the rebirth of the agency?
Quite a long time. I began pursuing my dream 100% once I got my first training with Classique Model Agency back in the 90’s. I was about 16 then. So from then on everything I learned and everyone I was able to meet I took full advantage to elevating myself. Soooo many highlights. From the shows I did the people I met. The travels. My most impactful time was during my time residing in San Diego. I was a new mom. I knew no one and nothing about computers, but I knew I was in a great place full of opportunities. So everyday I taught myself how to use the computer and became a wiz at networking. I searched for agencies, modeling assignments, photographers and began moving and shaking. I did runway shows, got myself an agent and I actually got myself more opportunities than my agent found for me. So it also taught me that I could do it without waiting for someone else and so I did. There’s just so many things I did that I felt were so great. I was able to meet Ximena Valero and work for her while in California and our relationship to this day still flourishes. Ximena Valero is one of L.A./Mexico’s top fashion designers and I am humbled everyday when I see her strives as she is someone I have experienced and learned from.
Achieving my dream was vital. I couldn’t have the knowledge and experience that is so important to being able to manage other models and show them the right way. Those were my jewels. All my experiences allow me to pass on to aspiring models what is vital to achieving their goals and not just be like others who assume the position but really have little idea about what they’re doing.
Tell me about Winnielle Model Management. Why was its rebirth necessary in your journey?
WMM encompasses it all. I had no idea I would actually be doing this again. It wasn’t a thought in my mind at all when I returned home (St. Kitts) in 2009. I was conquering another dream and many people including close friends and others who have worked with me in the industry would approach me asking when I would start and I told them upfront I had no interest. I had no vibes whatsoever for this, but one particular woman just didn’t want to hear it and never gave up on reminding me and letting me know how important I was to the fashion industry. Kirah Griffith is her name and she actually modeled with me for years in my early years of modeling. All praises unto her for how I got back to this journey. Yes-I! I am proud and happy to be here again. Why? Because I know that it’s a beautiful journey once trod the right way. Winnielle Model Management within the Federation has the ability to guide anyone interested and capable into this journey positively. So the vibes have grown and every time I meet with my students of the Model Empowerment 12 week course my vibes just grows and grows. I am loving it! When they blossom my works are well done.
When did this dream of Irie Lioness Designs first come to be? How long has it been in existence?
When I resided in St. Thomas. I moved there in 2007. In 2008 after pursuing jobs that would give me the knowledge I needed to run my own clothing business. The inspirations just seemingly began to flow and one night the name came to mind. My idea was to seek clothing from women who I felt had the same vibes as I–spiritually and creatively, hence Irie Lioness Designs. Soon, I began to also link with lions, so having irie lioness designs no longer seemed to work and I changed it to Irie Lioness Boutique. I launched the company on Facebook when I returned to St. Kitts in 2009.
Who are some of the designers (lions/lionesses) you have showcased and sold?
The list is mad long but those are a few: Yejide Parry (Nevis), Ximena Valero (Mexico) Sonia Noel (Guyana), Tuff Like Iron (New York), Mamyashi (Jamaica), RastaRebellion (Trinidad) Pat Blackman (Barbados), Calvin Southwell (Antigua).
I love your stance: “Styling beyond the ordinary to extraIRIE” Powerful! Tell me about it. What does it mean to you when you say this?
Give thanks. Sis to be totally honest, a lot of things I come up with come to me spiritually. Jah just puts it in my head. So, there is never much thought process, just a blessing from my father. Basically what it means for me is as it states. When I shop, I always see multitudes of the same old ordinary pieces. You go to ten stores and all have the same things. Boring I say. So instead of saying extra ordinary which is also used so much I say extra irie. The pieces I carry are just that–IRIE. They are inspired so lovingly by roots, culture and the good vibrations of life. So it is.
I find that you have a real innate and natural talent for marketing and advertising your business. Where does your business acumen come from?
Pure love for it. I’ve never been taught. Never sought to learn. It was just something I had to pick up on and use my creative side to help me. I enjoy it so I always give it my all. Everything I decide to do usually gets the best of me. In truth, I have never enjoyed reading. I from time to time get an urge to read however when it comes to sitting down and having to read about how to do something I tend to shy away. So I always have to go with my heart and soul, my visual and then execute it with passion and creativity that is naturally embedded in me.
From reading you, it seems that whether you were the model, the photographer, the business woman you have always been the face of your movement.
Truth. Well, being a single mother of three children and the only one supporting in all ways, we tend to have to be self sufficient. So I rarely have the funds to pay someone to do things for me and so I just do it myself. I do it my way, which saves me a whole lot in many ways. 🙂
Which do you prefer, being in front or behind the camera?
I enjoy them equally. It taps into both sides of my personalities and skills.
You have a gorgeous family and you moved blessed and so focused in that. But you’re a mom of three with a lot on the fire at the moment. How are you striking a balance?
Jah knows! Cause if I sit down and think about it I still couldn’t give u an answer sistah. Jah is carrying me. 🙂 But I do work hard and love my children dearly. I am here for them and that’s my simple story.
How do you take care of the Lioness? Any particular regimen? Any tips for women who want to maintain and be all that they can be?
Wow! The lioness gets the last care. Children come first. Then me after. Jah cares for me, sees me through all things and when it gets tough as it often gets I pray and meditate then execute as needed. My children keep me busy and anything else just is. I do nothing special at all. I live super simple with little to work with. Just eat, sleep, love, work hard and live.
I have to let you know that I really do love your outlook. I can’t say that I’ve ever read anything on your page that hasn’t just encouraged me. And I don’t imagine that every day is positive, but I think you do a good job of creating that energy, that vibration that makes people take that 1st, 2nd and 3rd look (even if they’re not up to any good) lol
And many aren’t up to any good, but I just move in light. It is also therapy for me. When I learn, I think I should share. Knowledge is power and I know it’s vital to share so I use Facebook as the medium to do positive to those who would accept it. Who don’t… hmm… but who does… Jah bless them sincerely. I get good energy from many on here too, so it’s just natural for me to share my positive energy and send it back into the Internet world. One Love.
Tell about being Rasta. How long have you been Rasta? When did that movement start in your life and how do those roots ground you and yet still allow you to soar the way you have?
You see Rastafari is who I am. It is my livety… no timing… no movement… Just life of love, positivity, truth, wisdom… All things good is my life as a Rasta wombman. I am not one that seeks to say much on this vibration for it is so simple to me. You see me, you see Rasta. You live with me; you live with a Rasta 🙂 Simply said! So it is. So I am. Rastafari!
Now the girl in me just wants to know how long it takes to wash and style all that gorgeous hair?
Hahaha. Awww… my hair so isn’t a bother to me 🙂 don’t take me no long time, and I just wash with shampoo and use lots of oils that smell good 😉 I’m just happy that I know how to live simple in every way. I don’t put much energy into my hair as many may feel from the way it looks. With or without locks my hair gets just basic attention so it can be clean and stay healthy 🙂
What are some of your short term and long term goals for your business? What’s the next level for the Irie Lioness?
You know my goals will be ever changing. Ever elevating as life throws many things at you, so you must always be ready for change. For my boutique, I pray to one day open a large boutique where I can host all the great designs from many designers for my people both locally and still virtually online as well. I want to expand highly on my stock, not just clothing but all things beautiful and natural. I want to be the most beautiful and most popular roots and culture store on the island where people come in almost every day just to get good vibes even if they not shopping all the time. Good music. Great aura. Great diverse products for the masses to fulljoy. May jah bless this and I will continue to do every little thing and except the obstacles and changes that come before I conquer.
Do you have any regrets business-wise?
Not all all. Ever learning. No regrets. Just more lessons to learn and wise up on 😉 It’s life. I’m keeping on my positive path.
What it is about music that speaks to you so well.
Well for someone who doesn’t enjoy reading, it’s my way of filling myself with knowledge, with good vibes. Being able to multitask in all my works and life and not be confined to one area visually. I love music sistah and I don’t listen to junk. It must be uplifting in some way Be it love, wisdom, strength, most high praises–anything positive. I was also a dancer, always a dancer, so music hits me so spiritually. It heals me…yeah… music is my life…
How does Culture feed your imagination?
Culture is me. Culture is like air. It’s just a natural need. I am aware of it. I embrace my culture and I love my culture that’s really where it lies… inna my heart so its feeds my entire being and surfaces when fitting.
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