By Anastasha Elliott
Kittitian top model, Suelika Naony Buchanan, has become one of the most demanded model in the Caribbean.
She just recently returned from an all-expense paid trip to Antigua, where she was paid to model in a fashion show.
Two weeks ago Shabeau Magazine flew her to Barbados to compete in a modeling compettion, and two weeks before that she went on an all-expense paid trip to Virgin Gorda to model.
Naony continues to make the fashion conscious of the Federation proud with her achievements.
She was recently chosen to participate in Style Week Jamaica.
Naony was chosen by her agent and Saint International Models of Jamaica as a runway model in Style Week Jamaica which runs from Wednesday to Saturday.
She is now the first model from St. Kitts to be chosen to participate in the event that is said to be the second largest fashion event in Jamaica.
The event includes multiple after-parties, VIP cocktail receptions, seminars, glamorous runway shows, as supermodels appeal to the die hard fashionists from around the world.
According to the Jamaican Observer, Style Week will include the ‘Bikini Polooza’ fashion show to be staged at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on Friday, followed by the International Mecca of Style in the Ballroom of the Pegasus Hotel on Friday.
The event will conclude with the phenomenal ‘Fashionblock’, Jamaica’s biggest fashion event ever in the heart of the City.
When Buchanan speaks about modelling, she speaks of a love affair with the art.
“I love fashion, art, I love style and I love to dress.”
Naony is 21-years old, five foot nine inches at 110 pounds. She has a model’s body and gives thanks to Junior Coffey, who she said
discovered her as a model and placed her on the path of transformation from an awkward duckling to a graceful swan.
“I was walking and Coffey walked up behind me and I turned and he said ‘are you interested in modelling?’ and I said yes. I must admit though that at the time I was not being entirely honest. I answered that way because I thought he was challenging me.
“I was 16 or 17 and did not think that I was pretty or sexy. That day I had worn an awkward ill fitting dress to work (I was interning as a junior reporter at The Observer newspaper), it was above my knees and I guess he saw how long my legs were.
“He told me about his agency, Sacada Modelling Agency, and told me that they were practicing for an upcoming show and I should pass by. I went, and I remember I was so intimidated by the girls there, that I wanted to leave. But there was this guy there that I knew and he told me I could do it, that I was pretty and Coffey just knew what to say, that is one thing I remember about him, he always knew the right thing to say and said it. He took me and moulded me, showed me how to walk and encouraged me on that path and I am forever thankful.”
Now, five years later, Naony has gone through many phases in her life: moments of triumph, moments of disappointment and there have been moments when she has wanted to quit.
“The way I feel about modelling is like a relationship: like having a boyfriend.
“No matter what happens, whatever falling out we may have. Something comes up and I always come back.”
Most recently Naony has been enjoying some good times. She has received professional training by her now manager, Winnielle Guilbert, to whom she says she is ever thankful.
“I am just happy for the experience and the opportunity to network. We have to do several photoshoots and training,” Naony said. “I am looking forward to the photoshoots the most, especially since lately I have begun to really enjoy taking pictures. I just feel at ease.”
Buchanan has become the first Kittitian model to be chosen to participate in one of Jamaica’s biggest runway fashion shows.
To date Naony who describe herself as kind, loving, sensitive, somewhat shy, yet talkative, serious, passionate and artistic and impulsive, has
participated in over six competitions — the C&C Couture Caribbean Top Model competition, which she won in 2004; the Miss Venus Swimsuit model
Anguilla, the local Knoxx Modelling competition, where she placed first runner up in each event; Miss Hawaiian Tropics and Miss Caraibes Hibiscus competitions.
Looking into the future Naony says that she wants to be an haute couture model.
“I want to model for the top agency in the world. With the right exposure I should be on my way to an awesome career in high fashion and print modelling. The place I want to be modelling is Europe and during that time I can pursue my other goals and dreams. I am interested in modelling swimsuit and lingerie and have just recently begun liking to do print.
“I also want to do fashion week in Miami and New York, for Victoria Secret, Swimsuit Illustrated. I want to continue to be a journalist because it is something I love, as well as photography. They are both rewarding careers. However I want to dabble in Film Producing, Swimwear Designing and would love to host TV shows. If I make it my plan is not to model all the time. For I have other loves. Modelling is going to help me in terms of funding those other dreams.
“This is my beginning as a model. From the moment I got on stage and first felt that rush, from walking down the runway in a designer outfit and striking a hot pose and hearing the admiration in the crowd. Some may say that it is vain. But it is not. I would encourage young girls to get involved I modelling because it builds self-esteem. I cannot say enough about that. It also exposing you to a lot of things and makes you a well-rounded person.
There are people around me who wish I wasn’t modelling. I know some cannot believe the transformation, because I grew up in a serious Christian home where even though I was not the youngest child I was looked at as the little one.
I view modelling as you, not being half-naked on a stage as some negatively view it. But I see it as you as a model doing a good job, showing off a piece of clothing that some designer somewhere shed blood, sweat and tears over. There is no better marketing
tool that a fashion show and models have the opportunity to do that. All we really do is promote clothing, the designer or the boutique.”
Naony takes what she does seriously whether it’s her writing or modelling. “I don’t play around with it and I am very passionate with it. When I started I was shy, reserved, innocent to modelling, now I am more confident, I know what I am doing, I know the facial expressions and I work that.”
This five foot nine beauty expresses thanks God for always making all things possible and making a way even when I don’t see it. To her manager Winnielle Guilbert for the opportunities to master her skill and for refining it and for providing her with the opportunity and helping me take my career to the next level by organising High Fashion shows and her photographer Scott Guilbert for his brilliance and mastery at retouching.
But most of all she thanks her mother and her family. She said, “I know it is not easy to have people come and tell you that they just saw your daughter in a swimsuit. I want to thank them for being patient with me, it’s not always easy missing out on family events, and I do that most of the time.
They are understanding and support me in their own ways, sometimes they pay for my shoots, or my airline tickets or give me money for travel for a show, I know of one uncle in particular who always does that for me and he’s the greatest ever! I love him for always
believing in me and because of their support I want to make it, not just for me but for them, to let them know it is not all in vain.” She also thanked her friends and fellow models.