We were met with a kind, interesting and highly talented lady who openly gave us insight into herself, family and her inspirations and kindly welcomed me into her home.
On this journal, Denise takes us on holiday, to Portugal with her family and we speak about motherhood that has spanned 3 different decades of her life, her creativity and future plans.
Denise’s children Amber and Aleena wear our Ndidi Apron dresses and Sani blouses from our new Spring Dress collection, whilst Zack wears our Mali Shirt and Printed trousers.
Q - Hey Denise, it’s so lovely to meet you and thank you for doing this interview on our journal. I normally start of asking, how would you describe yourself, beyond being a mother?
A - Hey Seyi, it is so lovely to finally meet you in person and thank you for dropping the bits off [Kamso clothes]!
Beyond being a mother, I am a photographer, an artist unabashed day dreamer and young at heart. I would consider myself to be a perfectionist and therefore my own worst critic. I’m somewhat of an introvert, so you are likely to find me hiding behind the camera and rarely in front of it. (Something I am continuously working on) I love the outdoors and feel most at home amongst nature.
Q - What was your life like before motherhood?
A - Life was definitely a lot less hectic and I was more carefree, so I could find the time to pursue my interests, one of which was fashion. Prior to being a mum, I worked as a stylist and then spent the best part of twenty years, managing high-profile fashion stores, whilst balancing motherhood.
Q - You have been a mother in your twenties, thirties and now forties, how has your parenting evolved during this time?
A - I am a mother to five children my eldest being 24 and my youngest, has just turned 4. I would say that my priorities have shifted tremendously, throughout my years of parenting. In my twenties, I spent the best part of my daughter’s formative years carving out a career and her life, essentially had to fit in around mine.
Physically, parenting was much easier back then and I was definitely more involved with playtime, however I was more stressed due to the work-family conflict.
As I grew older, I was often indifferent to others parenting advice because I knew what worked best for my children. In my forties I found myself completely changing my life in order to fit around the kids and that redefined me as a mother, for I was happier, more relaxed and savoured the moments we spent together.
Denise’s children Amber and Aleena wear our Chioma Fine Flora dress.
Q - As the matriarch of a blended multi-heritage family, what are the joys of this and how do you overcome the challenges?
A - The greatest joy of a blended, multi heritage family, is that we are able to embrace our cultural differences, through our extended families.
My husband is of Algerian heritage and his side of the family reside in France, so we visit frequently. I was born to Caribbean parents and we are fortunate enough to have them living close by, so they play an important role in my children’s lives.
My husband and I share the same religious beliefs and values, which creates the foundation to help us work through any challenges we may have to face.
Denise’s children Ameera wears our Bush Bloom Temi shirt and Zack wears our Eggshell Mali Shirt.
Q – When did your love of photography start and what/who inspired you to follow your passion for photography more recently.
A - My passion for photography stemmed from an early age, when my uncle, gifted me my first analogue camera, at the age of 14. As well as being an artist, he had a great love for the outdoors, so we would often venture to Kew Gardens or Hampstead Heath, either to sketch or take photos of the flora and fauna.
Photography has always been a hobby of mine, but it wasn’t until late 2020, during lockdown that I felt the need to focus more, on the things that brought me joy and that’s when my passion for photography was reignited.
Q - Your photography has such a dreamy, bucolic lens that transcends location. Through styling and landscape you transport us to an idyllic world that evokes a sense of adventure. What has shaped your photography style?
A - I consider myself to be a visual storyteller and my photography has always been inspired by the beauty of the natural world, especially through travelling and discovering new places. I love documenting the enchantment of childhood and whilst we are on our adventures, I try to encapsulate this little bit of magic, through my
Q -Your children all have very distinct, gorgeous styles - do your children's personalities shape the way you dress them?
A - I wouldn’t necessarily say their personalities shape the way I dress them, although they do have some input in picking out their chosen outfits. I love clothing, that exudes timeless elegance, which are age appropriate and functional, so this will be a mix of small brands, high street and secondhand, blended together.
Q - As a mother of 5 children, how do you ensure that you take time to care and look after yourself?
A - I try to prioritise some time for myself when the children are sleeping, that’s the only way sometimes. Something as simple as having a cup of tea, with absolutely no interruptions is just bliss for me, with the sound of silence gently playing in the background.
Q -What are you working to achieve by the end of this year?
A - Without setting myself unrealistic goals, I would have to say that stepping outside my comfort zone a little bit more, because ultimately, it is the fear within that prevents me from moving forward. I have been lucky enough to work with a few small brands that specialise in children’s wear, which I enjoy immensely as I get to shoot the clothing in my own photographic style, this is something I would like to continue on a larger scale.
Q - Finally, we ask all our journal contributors to give one pay it forward piece of advice. A pay it forward piece of advice is something that was told to you and it changed your mindset. Hopefully it can change someone else's too.
A - “People are capable at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.” – Paulo Coelho
I wholeheartedly stand by this and will not have anyone dissuade me from doing so.
Keep up with Denise over on her Instagram: @Deniseamaani
View her photojournal here: