Aarika Lee wears many hats, or in her case, many scarves: day time Marketing Director and Copywriter at Elementary Co, night time resident artist at The Mad Men Attic Bar, and full time mother, wife, and full-fledged stylish figure. Aarika’s colourful sense of style is an open reflection of who she is: exuberant and radiant. Her cheerful spirit is contagious and just by being around her brought a smile to our faces. As she was getting ready, her attention turned to Hobo, our office dog, she set aside her accessories to kneel down beside him and stayed that way for minutes on just resting her head to his. Then halfway through our shoot in the rain, we looked behind to see her snacking on almonds and cashews that she pocketed in her Chanel bag. It was endearing gestures like this that made our time with Aarika so memorable. In between our shoots, we asked Aarika to share with us about the careers she’s had and how it brought her to where she is now.
Picasso Dream | Connect the dots in your Modern Monpe + Mystic Mountain with red details in your bag and heels. Mirror the complexity of the motifs on your pants with a textured top, and for an extra touch, sling the Jamdani Eksa White Scarf over your waist as a makeshift belt.
It takes 22 artisan employment days to create the Modern Monpe + Mystic Mountain.
What is the best career advice you would offer to someone who wants to pursue their dream job?
I once met someone who had it all - she was a good wife, mum to three children, and she had a successful career leading her own business. Some people say you can’t have it all but seeing her, and seeing more people like her has really proven otherwise for me. You can do it too. The reality is that there will be negativity and obstacles along the way, and there will be days where more things fall apart than they do come together - but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You really can have it all. Stick to your guns, know what you want and know that you can have it. At the heart of it all, you can’t do it alone. People need people, and the support you need to keep going will come from those around you.
Sassy Elegance | Play up the subtlety of your Side Lunghi + Falcon Footprint with accessories that beg to be in the spotlight, like a pair of silver sneakers and a quirky colourful bag. Balance it out with a simple white top wrap it all together with the Akin Amulet Scarf.
The Side Lunghi + Falcon Footprint requires 10 artisan employment days to be completed.
What was your first job?
Like Charmaine, my first job was at the Italian Restaurant waiting tables. Afterwards, I flirted with the idea of having a career in music and sang at Wala Wala Cafe Bar. Then I went to school and began working at Ogilvy. At the beginning of my time there I thought to myself, this is it, I found my dream job. But there was a lot more politics involved than I had expected and in the end I didn’t see myself thriving in a company like that. With that, I jumped into the deep end and pursued music full time for about 4-6 years.
Metallic Chic | Break all the rules and layer on your Sideswept Dhoti + Indigo with a houndstooth textured top, chunky pearl necklace, and gold strappy ribbon sandals. Then keep it classic with a polished white kimono and black bag.
10 artisan employment days are needed to create the Sideswept Dhoti + Indigo.
What is your dream job?
My dream job is exactly what I have now. After I had Zola, my priorities shifted and I didn’t want to work nights any longer. It was impeccable timing as well because those around me had also wanted to start their own family and our priorities all aligned together, which led to the start of us taking a step into our own venture. We started our own re-branding company, a result of a collective effort to come together and offer our services. This gave me the flexibility I wanted; I don’t have to come in every day, and I get to spend time with my children. We work with amazing clients across fashion and beauty, and I even get to travel. On top of that, I work with my best friend. There’s 14 of us in the company, with a team that’s more concentrated everyone is naturally close and I really appreciate the kind of office culture that is built from that foundation. There’s not a day where I dread going into the office.
Freedom To Work is a series featuring powerful women who go against the grain by pursuing their creative interests in a culture of tradition and conventionality. We reached out to 4 people in our #MATTERtribe recognized for their confident, vibrant styles, and uncanny ability to mix pieces in surprising combinations. They chose their favourites from our collection and got ready for work and play.
An integral component of our mission here is working with artisans who carry the skills of the generations before them. It is in this partnership that we hope they find their freedom to work; to continue the narrative of their heritage and sustain the craft of their community.
In the same light, we selected these women because in a culture of tradition and conventionality, they go against the grain by pursuing their creative interests and we want to celebrate their Freedom To Work. Each of them share insights into their own lives and work experience as they pave the way for their own legacies to flourish.