Kenyan model Tendai Makeri is staging a fashion industry takeover. Dark-skinned, buxom, and beautiful, Tendai has the frame of Fatima Siad with a Kate Upton sized chest, and if there was ever a moment to be busty in modelling, it’s right now. Aside from shooting with Coca Cola, posing for a billboard ad for Airtel Nigeria, and making us to fall “in love with her,” Tendai has the personality to become a truly great international model. Check out our interview with this rising star as she talks about life as a model, her love for fashion designing and how it all began.

b8ba9dc59b1a4fd7c4600c1f01eb9460Tendai Makeri is a model, Jewellery designer, and
Entrepreneur living in Kenya

Zen: How did you get into modelling?
Tendai: That is a very good question because I didn’t get into it through one way but through so many. I started by doing a lot of research. Next was building my connections in the industry because in order to become successful in modelling you need the right connects. After which I started asking questions and I attended many auditions. Those were the seeds I planted that got me here. It was an amazing process and I truly enjoy every moment.

Zen: What has been your best moment as a model?
Tendai: Being pampered (Laughs).. Of course every model loves that! It feels great to be treated like the most important person in the room. Even though there is a lot of pressure involved, it still feels very nice.

Zen: What lessons have you learnt from modelling?
Tendai: I’ve learnt how to research and how to communicate with people more. It’s very important to watch what you say and how you speak in public places because you never know who is listening. A lot of models mess up their careers just by simply saying the wrong things. Even someone as simple as a sweeper can have an impact on your career. In this industry, your opinion should not be thrown around loosely.

Zen: How would you describe your personal style?
Tendai: My personal style I would say is daring and unique. I tend to collect fashion items that stand out. I love rare pieces, just like art pieces! I believe in individuality and I think everyone should have a chance to create themselves because it’s so much fun.

Tendai Makeri (2)

Zen: Who are your favourite style icons?
Tendai: My favourite style icons are Lupita Nyongowho is killing the game right now“, Karl Lagerfeld “for his class“, Beyonce for her boldness“, Janelle Monaefor her individuality“, Pharrell Williams for his uniqueness“, the late Michael Jacksonwho doesn’t love the king of pop” and of course Michelle Obamafor her elegance“.

Zen: What is your favourite item in your closet?
Tendai: My favourite item would have to be my high heels. They work like magic and make me feel powerful every time I wear them. I strongly believe every lady should own pair of heels that make her feel like she’s in charge. Fierce and elegant!

Zen: What designers/labels would you love to work with?
Tendai: Wow! My first would have to be Victoria’s Secret. Every supermodel has worked with them so that is just ‘it’ for me. Others would have to be Balenciaga, Karl Lagerfeld and many more. I would also like to work with supermodels like Tyra Banks, Iman Abdulmajid, Alek Wek and many others, the list is endless!

Zen: Do you have a favourite Kenyan designer?
Tendai: My favourite Kenyan designer would have to be Sally Karago. She has not only done excellent work developing her brand but she has put her heart  into helping other potential designers reach their goals by opening a fashion design school here in Nairobi. She is truly an inspiration and a great mentor.

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Zen: Can you remember all the designers, brands or professionals you have worked with in the industry?
Tendai: Oh wow, yes I do remember. I have worked with many professionals as it is such a large industry. My most memorable moments are with Magiq Lens, Coca Cola, Tongue Magazine (Mexico) and Airtel Nigeria, just to name a few. Although I have done quite a bit, I weirdly feel like this is the beginning. I have also done a fashion shoot for Avid-Style, 2 Coca Cola billboard campaign advertisements, Airtel Nigeria Billboard advertisement, and Trident Gum television advertisement presently running on DSTV.

Zen: Who are some of the models who inspire you? 
Tendai: The queens of modelling who inspire me include Tyra Banks, Iman Abdulmajid, our very own Ajuma, Gisele Bundchen, Naomi Campbell, Janice Dickinson, Eva Longoria, Sophia Vergara, and Cindy Crawford.

Zen: What other talents do you have?
Tendai: Apart from modelling and acting, I am a jewellery designer. I also love to write. I hope to do something with my pieces one day.

Zen: Advice for aspiring models?
Tendai: My advice to all aspiring models would be to set standards. Respect yourself, and remember one model’s path is not the only path. The key is research! I did mine and that is how I got all these jobs. And by research I don’t just mean behind a computer, but even by conversing with people in the industry. There is a lot to learn from everyone. Also, lots of girls also ask me how they can get jobs to make extra money. If you are in it for money, you will get disappointed very fast. Every job needs work, and modelling is not ‘an easy way to make money’ .

Zen: Are you part of a charity organization or do you participate in any humanitarian work?
Tendai: Yes I sure do!  I love to volunteer at our local animal shelter, KSPCA. I encourage more people to visit the place. Being raised around animal loving family, I was surely going to end up there at some point haha. I am also working on building a forum that shall bring young women together to discuss matters that affect them and seek collective solutions that shall provide them growth in a holistic manner.

Zen: What are you working on presently?
Tendai: I am currently working on building my brand, and establishing myself in the business world as a young entrepreneur. Get ready to see much more of me!

Photography by Andrew Mageto