Georgina Akalanyabah, known professionally as Gina Akala has had two dreams – to become a photo model and a fashion designer. As these two passions are major professions, Gina decided to pursue one of her passions to raise money and builds the networks. And as there is an age limit for a modelling career, Gina decided to pursue modelling first. As a model, she wanted to do photo modelling but was pushed unto the runway by management – giving her little time and resources to pursue her photo modelling dream. But Gina being adamant decided that if management was not going to give her what she wants, then she will do it herself. Thus, she began holding her own photoshoots on the side and with determination and hardwork, she was noticed by Hokof from Paris who helped skyrocket her photo modelling career. Since the breakthrough, Gina has managed to work with many photographers in and out of Ghana; featured in music and spoken word videos for Tiffany, VVIP and Iketu; done many commercials, look books, activation and promotions for several companies.
Today, Gina has succeeded in making a name for herself inphoto modelling and has set the ball rolling for her fashion designing career by enrolling in the fashion school Riohs Originate. Since her enrolment in October 2016, she admits the journey has been tough but the flexibility or her lessons, support of her teachers and her passion for fashion designing has helped her through. In August 2017, she will be graduating from Riohs and she cannot wait to show the world all that she has learnt.
When did you realise you had the passion for fashion designing?
I have always had two dreams;
- to become a photo model
- to become a fashion designer
I have always been in love with fashion and fascinated by how clothes are made that I knew I wanted to be a pro in this career. This might even be one of the reasons why I still do runway modelling though photo modelling is my thing. On the runway, I get to wear many beautiful and creative clothing I prefer to call “magic” as I can never get over my amazement of how people can just sit down and make such beautiful things.
After realising your passion for fashion designing, what steps did you take?
As I am not a natural with fashion designing as I am with modelling, I had a bit of a rough start and enrolling in a school which did not start with the basics did not help much. So I decided to do the right thing by finding a school that would start from the basics and that is how I enrolled in Riohs Originate. But before enrolling, I had to make some enquries about Riohs as I did not want to make the same mistakes I made. I wanted to be certain they would be able to help me achieve my goals. I also had to check if their fees was affordable; if their class schedule was suitable and it was. I could choose my own class hours and days which was perfect for me as I still have a modelling career. I must say, Riohs is the best decision I have made in my fashion designing career.
What is your expertise and specialty in fashion designing?
After many practise and lessons; and the tremendous assistance and support from the teachers at Riohs, I have realised I am pretty good with pattern-making and stitching. Also, due to my natural curious nature, I chose to specialize in gowns and a little casual clothing as gowns are so challenging and detailed. And I want to challenge myself each day.
Who is your biggest influence in fashion and what are your goals?
My biggest influence in fashion is myself and my zeal to always stand out. I believe a great fashion designer is a trendsetter – one who can stand out in the crowd.
My goal is to become one of Ghana’s top designers locally and internationally. Also, I would like to set up fashion centre to help girls who will like to get in fashion designing.
How will you define your work? What do you enjoy most about fashion designing?
My work is simple yet classy. I like to style things up a bit to give it something extra.
Well, what I enjoy most about fashion designing is when I complete my work. The process of making an attire is wonderful but seeing the end results makes me so happy.
What is the most interesting project you have worked on and what are you currently working on?
I love “innovation”. We had to create something on our own and I decided to use seashells and candles. It was a weird mix but it turned out wonderful. It did not even matter that I had to go to Cape Coast for the seashells.
Currently, I am working on my graduation collection for the fashion show in August. I cannot tell you exactly what it is. You will have to come and see for yourself.
How do you balance fashion designing and modelling? What are some of the challenges you face?
It is never easy balancing school and work but if you know what you want, you would somehow find a way to make things work. It is never an easy way but if I do not make any sacrifices, then I will never move forward.
Since I started fashion school, I had to sacrifice my sleep to finish my assignments. I know it sounds trivia but thing is modelling jobs do not come daily so I work at Plot 7 (a nightclub) to support myself. This means, school in the morning, possible modelling job in the afternoon, then work in the evening. There are days I know I would not have time to complete my assignments should I take it home so I stay behind in school to complete it. I have also missed modelling jobs so I can stay in school. There was a time where I would take modelling contracts but then it will eat into my school time and I will be behind in class. So, I decided to accept jobs that are convenient. This means losing some income but as I said, I must make sacrifices if I want to get to the top.
If you had to design an outfit for a celebrity, who would it be and what would you make?
I will love to design an outfit for Alicia Keys. An open back halter neck jumpsuit would flatter and compliment her figure.
What three pieces of advice would you give to a young model who is planning on pursuing a career in fashion designing?
- Be certain fashion designing is what you want as without passion, you cannot make this work.
- Be open minded as you will learn so much when you are open to new things.
- Be dedicated to the path you have chosen and do not make excuses.