The Story Behind Stacey Mckenzie and How She Walked Her Way into the Fashion Industry
I’ve had the privilege of working with Stacey Mckenzie more than a handful of times and I am inspired by her each time. She has her own personality and she is always encouraging you to go and reach for your dreams. Stacey has walked the major runways around the world and recently served as a panelist for Canada Reads 2012. She founded Walk This Way and provides workshops that focus on showing you how to Own You and rock your confidence in pursuit of your career. I had the opportunity to do a short interview with her over brunch and I hope to work with her again soon!
KENTON magazine: What were you like when you were little?
Stacey McKenzie: In the beginning, I was quiet but when I was defending myself, I would get loud. I got teased a lot in school – I was a tomboy. I wore Adidas tracksuits and heels or wedges, even platform heels. I love collecting limited edition tracksuits. I was on the basketball team, volleyball team, ran track, played tennis and baseball. I also played the clarinet, saxophone and learned to play drums when I fell in love with my pastor’s grandson (that’s another story).
KENTON: Why did you want to model?
Stacey: I wanted to be a model because I was so different. Modeling is an avenue for “others to be different”. I used to wear my mother’s heels every morning before school. I am meant to be in the business. I wanted to be a model because I lived for fashion. From the age of 6 when I found out about the world of fashion I went on a rampage to be apart of it by way of modeling.
KENTON: Tell me about your family. Where are they right now?
Stacey: I have a brother and a sister, 17 and 19 years older than me. My mom always instilled work ethics even as little kids. We must work very hard to get something that we want to achieve. I am originally from Jamaica but my family is here in Canada. We grew up in a church as Christians.
KENTON: Do you know anyone else with a similar success story?
Stacey: Grace Jones. She is a Jamaican singer, model and actress. She was also a James Bond girl.
KENTON: What do you want people to think of you as?
Stacey: I’ve always wanted to be known as an inspirational, motivational being, humble and appreciative. I enjoy love and hope for others to do so as well. I’d like to be known as a mentor – mentor for both women and men, especially within my work. Walk this way has been very fulfilling and it’s my way of giving back. I first started doing it underground and that’s when everything came to the forefront. I started it to meet and help a lot of aspiring models that didn’t know what they were doing and they were wondering how to begin. They didn’t have a clue what to do or who to speak with. A lot of people are self-serving in the fashion industry and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll get eaten up alive!
KENTON: What are your thoughts on young designers?
Stacey: It is really important for social media to support young designers because they’re not getting enough support or the backing financially – it is hell for them. I support young designers by wearing their clothing but trying to see as many collections from up and coming designers, showing my face and hopefully help them get a little more exposure.
KENTON: What are your thoughts on sweatshops?
Stacey: Pissed! Why would you do that to people? Words cant even describe how I feel about it. It’s terrible. Adults, kids, people in general. It is very bad. There has to be a better way. There are designers that come across where they’re doing a lot of lines and have their friends or family working on it legitimately. It’s like a family business.
KENTON: Where do you think the fashion industry is going in terms of online and offline magazines?
Stacey: The internet and social media engagement is major now. At some point, books and magazines are going to be obsolete. It’s a part of the future.
KENTON: Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?
Stacey: I am a day-to-day person, I don’t plan in advance. I know what I want to accomplish. Yes, I do the legwork and if it falls into place, it falls into place. I’d definitely like to continue with speaking engagements, hopefully have a modeling school, a foundation for boys and girls on growing self-esteem and even having my own show.
KENTON: What is the one thing you cannot live without?
Stacey: Ackee and saltfish with fried dumplings. It’s a traditional Jamaican dish. The best ones are in the hood. I don’t trust the ones out here in Toronto. My hood, where I get it at is at Jane and Tretheway – right on the corner, the Ritz.
A few other things I can’t live without… my stilettos, (my Manolo Blahniks) and great underwear. My lingerie has to be on point even when I wear tracksuits even back in school days. I always had the best best underwear sets (Agent Provocateur) and no, not a fan of Victoria Secret. Last but not least, my lipstick — the brighter the better. Red is my favorite color
KENTON: What are you currently working on?
Stacey: I am currently working on my Walk This Way workshops, kicking off in Toronto, Montreal and NYC. Will be going to Washington for The Miss Black USA pageant where I’m the official model coach and mentor. Read more about Walk This Way below.
KENTON: What is one advice you would give to an aspiring model?
Stacey: My advice to aspiring models is Own You, do not conform to fit in, find your niche and with perseverance you can pursue whatever you want in life. That’s a couple of advices in one! Haha!
KENTON: Who should KENTON Magazine interview next?
Stacey: Don Cheedle because I think he’s fine. And Jean Paul Gaultier because I love him. He’s humble, fascinating and a great guy. He was the first major designer who wasn’t afraid to book you, who had the balls to book me. The reason why I bring personality to the runway walk is because of him. He told me that “You need to be yourself on the runway and you need to play up on it more. You got this great thing going on and you need to be yourself!” I really love Jean Paul Gaultier!
This Walk This Way workshop focuses on all aspects of the fashion industry including modeling and acting. Stacey and her all star experts will show you how to Own You and rock your conﬁdence to new heights with the knowledge to pursue a variety of careers in this fabulous yet cut throat
industry call fashion.
“I started my company Walk This Way workshops to teach aspiring models all aspects of the business so they can go after their dreams and goals with conﬁdence,” explains Stacey. “It’s been hugely rewarding and now I’m thrilled to open the doors to all types of entertainers. Stacey is not your typical supermodel. Mostly known for her different and unique look she has faced the harshest critics and proved there is a place for all diversities that don’t ﬁt the mould. I think it’s very important for people to love and Own You, once you have that conﬁdence to Own You I truly believe with that and perseverance you can achieve anything you want in life.”
For more information or to sign up for this workshop, please visit walkthiswayworkshops.com