Cleo Woman

Secret of Deddeh

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to get you where you are today?

"I was born in West Africa in Liberia and raised in Ghana. When I first moved to the United States I really struggled with self love and with how to feel beautiful. I had wanted to be a model when I moved to the US, but the agencies would tell me ‘oh we love you, but we need you to lose some weight’, ‘you’re too short’, or ‘we already have someone that looks like you’. I really didn't like myself and wanted to change everything about myself. It's really hard to love yourself when you’re constantly being told you’re not good enough. So, that’s why I started my blog - Secret of DD. I wanted to inspire other women who were struggling with self love to feel beautiful and to live a beautiful life. I wanted to show how I was choosing to live life to the fullest through awareness and self love".   

How does your heritage shine through in your personal style?

"My heritage travels through me no matter what I do. My parents are from different tribes in Africa, both of which love color. I love color, all of the vibrant african colors since they symbolize happiness and loudness in a very positive way. I love how I can switch my hair up. One day have it braided & the next in an afro. So I’m always adding lots of colors, embracing the big hair, the cheekbones, the eyes. If you look at my feed, it’s meant to promote happiness and positivity, that’s why all the colors are so bright and loud".

You started The Black Mirror Project. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

"I started this project around three years ago. I came to realize that it's not just black models who are struggling, it's also black influencers and regular girls. I wanted to show them the process that I went through when I first came to the US and what helped me find myself. My boyfriend at the time always asked me why I struggled so much to feel beautiful, and I told him “If you find 5 girls that look like me in one of the fashion or beauty magazines then you’re right, I shouldn’t struggle”. But, he couldn’t. And so he understood. It’s hard to feel beautiful when you aren’t represented in the magazines that claim to showcase the beautiful. So the Black Mirror Project came from a deep, deep struggle, sadness, but it also came from a place of peace. I wanted to showcase the impact it could have on our generation if everyone was given the same opportunity. It didn’t come from a place of anger. The best part about the project has by far been all the girls texting and emailing me thanking me for showing the Black Mirror Project, for showing that black is just as beautiful". 

How did you discover your true passions and how has it shifted through your life?

"On the yoga mat. For some reason, something just shifted in my body and I realized that I wasn't doing everything that I wanted to do. I wasn't pursuing what I really liked. The thing about passion is that it can be as small as cooking - it is simply whatever makes you happy. Even though I was getting into an industry that my family wouldn't understand, I was happy doing it. I feel blissed and joyful, and that’s how you know it’s your passion. Maybe my passion will shift again in the future, but when you listen to yourself every day, you’ll know if and when that happens".

What advice would you give to other women who are struggling to find their paths?

 "I would say that the thing about life is: it's not about getting there, it's about all the little moments. You can’t look at what other people are doing. You need to find the space within you and it'll come to you - you have to wait and not beat yourself up too much. Watch the little things that bring you joy. Pay attention to what makes you happy".

We know you are passionate about Fashion, Beauty, Heath, Wellness, and Fitness. We would love to hear how you find balance in juggling all your interests?

 "I'm a sagittarius - an intense girl with a calm mind. My balance is understanding that whatever I'm doing right now is okay. One day at a time. I tell myself, “Today I am doing this. Today I am going to do fashion.  Or today I am going to do beauty”. My philosophy is bit by bit, one step at a time, one day at a time. Since I'm so intense, I try not to take anything I’m doing too seriously or to stress myself out too much. I get really bored quickly and am always looking to learn something or discover something new. So every little thing that I can put my hand on, I learn, and want to show other people how to learn it too. At the end of the day, everything in moderation, don’t take anything too seriously, and don’t put stress on yourself".  

How has quarantine impacted your life and what are some practices you have found to be helpful during this time?

"Oh my goodness, it has changed my life! I’m one of those people who says this is the best thing that has happened to me in 2020. Quarantine has forced me to find stillness within myself, to be able to keep calm without getting too stressed. It has made me so much stronger. This uncertainty - I can't control it so I can’t stress about it. I remind myself that everything is happening for a reason so I need to be able to realize that it's okay, to sit there comfortably with that realisation. Quarantine has helped me to discover new relationships, and to connect more deeply with existing relationships. It is making me rest, eat better, focus on myself more, and even my skin is getting better. Without COVID, I would have stayed stuck". 

Where do you draw inspiration from?

"From people. I like going out on the street and watching people and what they’re doing and how they’re living. I also listen to a lot of podcasts. The Mind Volley podcast is a good one. I find inspiration around happiness, inner peace, and becoming one with the universe". 

Do you have any daily rituals?

"Every morning I say thank you before even opening my eyes - starting my day by being grateful for even being able to open my eyes. I then drink green tea, meditate, and go for a run while listening to an educational podcast or e-book. Then, on most days I journal all the amazing things that happen each day. I never say anything bad about myself in my journal - it’s only a positive space. My beauty routine is super meditative as well". 

Book recommendation?

"The 5 AM Club. It changed my life".