Inspirational Women

Inspirational Women

STRONG WOMEN

May We Know Them.
May We Be Them.
May We Raise Them.

The Colour Palette Salon owner and founder of the RebelKid fashion label, Hardia, shares her experiences on the build-up and launch day of her new clothing line, RebelKid.

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Hardia defines 13-12-20 as one of life's reminders that she is exactly where she needs to be. "My purpose in life is female empowerment," she explains. "Throughout my career, though in varying forms, I have channeled this into my work."

Behind the doors of 196b Duke's Ride, we sit on the plush sofas emersed by her South African and worldwide city inspired salon, The Colour Palette, to discuss the new ventures of this hairstylist, make-up artist, fashion stylist turned entrepreneur and businesswoman. RebelKid, Hardia's new clothing line, has been her lifelong dream - extra time from lockdown allowed her to bring her dream to reality. Its name comes from one she adopted in her more free-spirited and rebellious years by her endlessly supportive father. It's fair to say, the time in which she's nurtured her husband, son and businesses have now made her a rebel with a cause.

RebelKid - accessible to all women worldwide, is inspired by Hardia's travels around the world. Her perspective on the human body is that it's a canvas for clothes which symbolise the paint. Bold & Courage is the first of the lines to be rolled out from RebelKid. Unlike other clothing brands, this affordable indie-line favours no age, body type or skin colour. It was created for women, by a woman - who was once a girl that found a love for reinventing herself from a young age with the help of some fabric dye, badges and embellishments magpied from her mum!

What's unique about this debut is that it launched with 13 everyday inspirational women. Handpicked to be photographed alongside her, stood a group of women who united with their anonymous stories about what struggles they have overcome. The notion to be kind, always, as you never know what people are going through is reinforced whilst looking at the individuals and learn the trying circumstances they have collectively faced.

These incredibly inspirational women, some of which we see in The Colour Palette Salon, are going through life having faced the greatest loss of 3 children, the extremities of anxiety, a hijack incident, painful racial abuse, past domestic abusive relationship, infidelity, an auto immune diagnosis, a cancer diagnosis - the list continuous onto a very painful divorce, eating disorders and a mum and wife of two autistic children and a husband.

You may never know which other fraction of her story lives intertwined with the 12 others for Bold & Courage, but today, Hardia is willing to share her own experience with setbacks and disappointments in her life.

Prior to the successful businesses she runs today, Hardia was once a newly qualified hairstylist and make-up artist having graduated from the most prestigious academies in the world, The Vidal Sassoon and Delamar Make-up Academy in London. She was set for a promising future in hair, make-up and styling for fashion, TV and red carpets until an unexpected diagnosis disrupted this path - an auto immune disease which affects the use of her hands and feet. Refusing to let go of her passions, she redirected her keen eye for hair, make-up, styling and fashion and her ability to think outside the box towards something less physically demanding but equally as fulfilling.

Paired with the standards society expects these women to live up to, prepare to be left in awe at how each day all 13 women including Hardia have found just one reason to..

STAND UP, DRESS UP, SHOW UP, SPEAK UP & NEVER GIVE UP

...despite the 100 others that say they shouldn't.

Interest in the build-up to launch day gained momentum quickly when images of shoes with daring heights and neon colours, patches of bright animal prints and snippets of relatable life content filtered through the feeds of its female following. Little did its audience know that weeks before the images were released, stood huge mood boards that flowed through more than one room in Hardia's home in Finchampstead, Berkshire.

During the day, Hardia and her husband JP steered the ship of The Colour Palette Salon and at night, due to differing time zones, she worked with her manufacturers abroad as well as being involved in the design and look of The Colour Palette Salons' newly launched website - the question was asked when did you ever sleep?  her answer... "Not a lot" with a bit of a giggle. Brainstorming each outfit along with finalising the details on hair, make-up and accessories to go with it took up a lot of headspace in the build-up to launching.

It was necessary to create outfits that got these women out of their comfort zones. The union of striking colour and pattern serve more than just the purpose of catching the audience's eye. In equivalence to the ethos of RebelKid, dressing this boldly demands attention. No combination of earrings, tights, shoes, and cosmetic styling for the Bold & Courage range was a coincidence. These garments take courage to wear.

Hardia explains how she planned to tap into the bold and courageous side of her models and give them the permission they never needed to make a statement! Like many other women, she finds fashion her way of expressing herself - yet is the first to admit, she doesn't have the body type she is used to seeing as the 'definition of perfect' during her time in the fashion world. This only ignited her creative flame further when she combined lightness with darkness and pattern with neutral fabric to contour her own shape.

"I love animal print, I always have!", she confesses, although anyone that knows her or has visited The Colour Palette Salon will know this isn't much of a secret. Even all black everything has her thumbs up, as long as it's paired with statement shoes and accessories. For Hardia, it's all about mixing it up and going with how you feel on the day. After further conversation around this, an understanding is made that fashion to her is heavily led by her emotions and creativity. Inspiration for her next look is constantly being sourced from all places and walks of life. This combined with some neon and pastel in her collection make for an eclectic mix, much like its maker, who aside from everything fashion is a huge fan of Star Wars and family walks in the English countryside as well as exploring the back streets and alley's with her husband and son in her favourite city in the world, London.

Like most creatives, Hardia does her work with Meraki. Meraki is a word which derives from the Greek and it means, 'to do something with soul, creativity, or love; to put something of yourself into your work.' This is reflected in the name of her range, Bold & Courage, which were traits possessed by her parents when immigrating to England and left her and her brother behind in South Africa whilst they were still in their early 20s. At times they faced exceptional struggle financially and emotionally and when talks about it - her eyes fill up with tears, but it was perseverance and determination which eventually turned this tale into one of success... "If my parents taught me and my brother Louis one thing in life, it was to not try and be the best at what you're doing just try it and never give up - it doesn't matter how many times you fall on your face just always stand up and keep going." Hardia's brother - a leading plastic, reconstructive and cosmetic surgeon who lives in Sydney, Australia with an inspirational story himself. In Hardia's own words is, "definitely one for the record books and so incredibly inspirational."

The birth of RebelKid and its finalised designs on its way to Berkshire, required a team that added logistics to Hardia's creative vision. One-by-one, she recruited a team consisting of a photographer, two hairstylists, four make-up artists, a warehouse coordinator, a shoot coordinator and a host. In order to make the day run as smoothly as it did each role required, but was not limited to, a love of organisation, the ability to work in a team and exceptional attention to detail. On any ordinary day, session styling comes with its challenges, but this team was under the watchful eye of the COVID-19 guidelines and time restraints. Hardia made it very clear throughout our conversation that the RebelKid shoot definitely wouldn't have been executed the way it was if it wasn't for her husband JP and everyone involved in this project" and she fired the words - TEAMWORK CREATES DREAMWORK.

The thinking behind the days coordination was to allow just enough time for the ladies to ease into their role but not so much so that they were sat on their nerves for any length of time! A small window before a casting call from photographer Les, meant their personalised outfits were stepped into only moments before it was all systems go. Before this, each model enjoyed a warm welcome upon their allotted time of arrival, some brunch and simultaneous appointments with their RebelKid style squad. The team was a mixture of familiar and new friendly faces, none the less, with the day being all for a good cause, they gelled together fantastically.

First up, in true spirit of paving the way, was Hardia. The big reveal of her high fashion hair paired with bright contoured make up was a look that made the end reveal so final yet fun for the team to see! All aspects of shoot day pointed towards the models unapologetically refusing to be put in a box. This came in the form of a Stormzy song request from a woman in her 50s, a makeover on a skin colour that previously hasn't been encouraged on editorial shoots and a body type the magazines tell you, "how to get rid of in 10 days".

In Hardia's own words and repeated by her throughout our chat on many occasions is that, "these women really did touch my heart and the way I now look at life, I am no stranger to setbacks, disappointment, rejection and personal struggles. By getting to know these women and listening to their stories and what they go/been through (some are still going through) - I look up to them in so many ways. I am not lying when I say that these ladies have changed me for the better and left a positive impact in my life. I'll keep this as motivation for myself to know in times of struggle whatever my struggle is, I am not alone and this gives me reason to - STAND UP, DRESS UP, SHOW UP, SPEAK UP & NEVER GIVE UP ."

One-by-one, these women took a deep breath in and followed suit, leaving cheers of support behind them for the big photographic studio behind the salon. It wasn't until about three models in that it was revealed all their sessions were being live streamed on Instagram. Viewers experienced what was behind those heavy warehouse doors before the models did... bass from their three songs of choice (which Hardia's husband organised to ease their nerves in front of the camera), flashing lights and guidance on choreography from Hardia before their inhibitions took over. Being the centre of attention doesn't come naturally to these women, which is why Hardia acted shoot assistant to Les to spare another unfamiliar face on shoot. She held their hand and danced with them on the side lines whilst they rose to the occasion. A flurry of supportive hearts and comments soon came in as RebelKid's online audience watched in astonishment at the dance moves and poses struck before them.

Despite all these women looking breathtakingly beautiful, some moments of self-doubt still managed to fall through the cracks when comments like, "Are you sure you want me here?" and "I keep waiting to be told this was all a big mistake!" passed their lips. Whilst ensuring the day ran smoothly and that no hair was photographed out of place, the team would agree most job satisfaction was in being able to redirect the negative thoughts into happier ones. As one models song request of, "Castle On The Hill" by Ed Sheeran played, she was asked what it meant to her. "It's mine and my son's song", she replied, and she went on to explain what her family meant to her and how proud her mum told her she was of her today.

The morning was filled with a buzz of women encouraging each other to be gutsy and stand proud of who they are. Everyone there experienced firsthand Hardia's unique ability to navigate the pairing; a painful past with the prospects of an exciting future.

One inspirational mum of twin girls featuring in the RebelKid campaign positively reinforces herself in the way she does her daughters daily. They themselves are no strangers to a photoshoot but, today was the day for their mum to show them how it's done! She realises the importance of how seeing their mum know her self-worth beyond days like today has on their own. Over some prosecco and chatter during some downtime, the styling team agreed they felt really privileged that some women felt comfortable enough to share snippets of their background. What never fails to amaze them on days like shoot day, is seeing how the more these women see themselves look the part, the more they started to grow into it. It's a real metamorphosis!

Just when you think RebelKid was done leaving its stamp on the world, it goes that bit further in its bid for female empowerment by supporting The Dash Charity. You may be surprised to learn that 1 in 4 women have been affected by domestic violence - that's 25% of The Colour Palette's female clientele and statistically 2 more than just the one female that came forward about her truth for the RebelKid campaign!

Dash, which stands for - Domestic Abuse Stops Now, provides support for people who find themselves in mentally or physically abusive situations. A call to The Dash Charity's helpline (01753 549865) will help you understand and recognise all forms of abuse and in extreme cases, help you to escape to safety. The Dash Charity runs three refuges for women across Berkshire and each refuge accommodates up to 14 women with or without children. RebelKid's promise to you is that a percentage of profits made from every pink handbag, with RebelKid Woman etched on it, will go towards the charity and its mutual mission. This is to stop the cycle and build confidence and self-esteem.

The day was summarized wonderfully when all the women were photographed with a canvas gifted from Sue - one of the Bold & Courage ambassadors. On it said "Here's to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them."

Before we leave our blog readers in anticipation of this beautiful clothing ranges release, Hardia was asked three fireshot questions on RebelKid:

What was the best part of this creative process?

There are so many to choose from, but number one has to be the process of sharing 13 stories to the world which empowered women and brought them into new light with great anticipation. Secondly, the buzz, laughter and tears from the WhatsApp group of all 13 of the RebelKid ambassadors. We are all still part of the WhatsApp group and regularly in contact. I've made 12 new friends. Also watching these incredibly inspirational woman infront of the camera gave me goosebumps, tears in my eyes combined with a big smile on my face.

What challenge did you face when designing and launching RebelKid?

Thousands of my handbags got lost in transit and to this day they are still lost!! It's safe to say blood, sweat and tears went into the making of RebelKid but that was definitely the worst. The entire handbag line had to be remanufactured.

Who is someone you couldn't have done this shoot without?

My husband JP, we are a rock solid team. It's him that encouraged me to bring my dream to a reality and I borrow his hands to write down all my ideas when mine can't keep up with the pace they stream in at! He always supports me in what I do as well as my lifelong and very loyal and supportive Mum and Dad. I am blessed with the best parents in the world.

Also the entire cast and crew that were at the RebelKid shoot, each and everyone was just amazing and thank you! JP, Corinna (Hairstylist), Ilir (Hairstylist), Era (Nail Technician), Charlotte (Host), Les (Photographer), Morgan (Makeup Artist), Nat (Makeup Artist), Chloe (Makeup Artist), Yasmine (Makeup Artist), Jasmine (Model), Angela (Model), Katie W (Model), Nerissa (Model), Sue (Model), Hester (Model), Jane (Model), Pandy (Model), Tracy (Model) and Katie V (Model), Sandra (Model) and Zo (Model).

 

Follow RebelKid on Social Media

Instagram: www.instagram.com/rebelkid_uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/REBELKIDUK/

Help us Fundraise for The Dash Charity: https://bit.ly/FundraisingforTheDashCharity

Author: Corinna Hughes