Today we’d like to introduce you to Brana Dane.
It’s an honor to speak with you today. Why don’t you give us some details about you and your story. How did you get to where you are today?
I was scouted to model at the age of 14 in Canada by the top agent in the country, but I decided to focus on my schooling instead. It was only later that I thought again about modeling and moving to NYC. Through modeling I eventually started to build up a large online following; now I have a combined following of almost 90k followers across multiple platforms.
After attending the premiere of “The True Cost” with the lovely Eileen Fisher and Zosia Mamet, my eyes were opened to the cost of fast fashion. I got my first peek inside a very hidden aspect of the industry. Learning about the Rana Plaza collapse and the 1000 plus workers that didn’t make it out alive was shocking. It was a pivotal moment for me.
From there, I searched for ways to make a change and eventually became one of the first members of the “Model Mafia”, an organization that promotes fairness within the industry for models and garment workers. This was my introduction to activism and we were even profiled in a Porter Edit cover story for our work.
Since I have created and participated in numerous social media campaigns, as an organizer and an influencer, in concert with the Freelancers Union, the Model Mafia, Lonely Whale, Rainforest Alliance, the NY Governor’s Office, Lower Drug Prices Now and many other prominent organizations.
I’m sure your success has not come easily. What challenges have you had to overcome along the way?
I’ve had to overcome self-doubt and self-consciousness in order to improve my work. Modeling and social media require a thick skin and inner confidence. I only started to gain traction as an influencer once I became bolder on social media and once I started regularly pushing myself outside my comfort zone.
I challenge you to also be bolder on social media where it counts! It’s okay to make mistakes. Life is about constant change and hopefully we learn along the way, so don’t be afraid to speak about the things that matter to you most. Of course, I’ve had disappointments in my career like anyone else. Rejection is almost never personal, but it’s still essential to surround yourself with uplifting and positive people. I’m now lucky to be with We Speak Model Management, in the NYC market, as they truly are respectful to their models and clients.
In fact, I also advocate on behalf of all models to be treated fairly as professionals. I’m being interviewed live on the 11th as an ambassador for the Responsible Trust for Models. I further cover the topics of rejection and criticism within fashion in my podcast episode with Mo Gadawt, host of “Slo Mo”. Check it out for a more in-depth take!
Let’s talk about the work you do. What do you specialize in and why should someone work with you over the competition?
Now more than ever, a model is a brand and not just a “face”. It’s an added level of responsibility but also an opportunity to show a different side of oneself. It’s important for me to bring a fresh perspective and to be authentic on my social media as an influencer while promoting self-awareness and positivity. The topics I focus on most arise organically in my daily life. I believe it’s our duty to address these issues. As a working model in fashion, I felt that I should speak out on the plight of the modern garment worker as well as the environmental costs of fast fashion. This is how I started my journey as an activist and eventually incorporated it into my social media presence.
Developing a niche as an influencer is very important. At the same time, it has to be authentic otherwise it will become too difficult to sustain. For example, I have led many social media campaigns focusing on environmental issues, but typically they are always associated with a real-life action such as a march, protest or rally.
For example, I was asked to speak on stage in Union Square for the 2019 official Earth Day Rally. I was very nervous to be speaking for such a large audience in a public forum, but it turned out to be a great decision. Since, I have also curated and moderated panels featuring other activists and influencers doing good.
What’s your best piece of advice for readers who desire to find success in their life?
Everything starts with a solid foundation. After we meet our basic physical needs we need to build a strong mental foundation. Society is built around our better natures and the more we improve ourselves the more society will improve as a result. I try to inspire people to be self-reflective and self-accepting in my social media captions. The more self-aware we become the less suffering we all will cause.
A great exercise to try is to say yes to almost everything for one or two years and really push yourself to be open to new perspectives and new opportunities. When we push ourselves out of our comfort zones we are forced to let go of limiting beliefs we can grow and change in beautiful ways. For example, I recently started a blog on my website and am learning about a whole new world!
Speaking of success, what does the word mean to you?
Walking the runway in front of thousands for the IIFA Awards in Times Square was amazing and memorable, but the most meaningful experiences are those that connect me to others in a deeper way. For example, through my work I was able to meet Rushan Abbas, a leading voice in defense of Uyghur’s human rights. I met her during NYFW when I collaborated with several different groups, including the Model Alliance, to protest the use of Uyghur forced labor in producing garments. I was very happy that the protest and story ended up in Marie Claire and other major news outlets.
I’m very grateful for all the support I’ve received in my life to get me to this point. No woman is an island, but success means taking responsibility for your life. To me, pity is the opposite of compassion. While we should all have love and compassion for ourselves, self-pity is immensely destructive. Success means facing what life has to offer with grace and acceptance while joyfully fighting for what you believe in.
What’s next for you?
I’m going to be the “Special Guest” and Host for the upcoming NYFW Impact Fashion Shows this season. Due to the pandemic we are filming on the 13th and debuting the footage on the 20th. I love Impact because they feature all sustainable designers.
As a TV Host covering backstage at Spring Studios during NYFW for FNL Network, airing globally on Amazon Prime and Roku, it feels like old hat to speak on camera. I’m really looking forward to it!
I also have my fourth work of poetry coming out in paperback this February!
Finally, how can people connect with you if they want to learn more.
Please connect with me! My main channel is Instagram with over 50k followers.