People of the City’ is What’s On Africa’s version of the Proust questionnaire. We ask interesting and exciting people across the city a series of questions. They can answer as seriously or as flippantly as they like. Either way the responses are insightful!

This week we asked Alae Ismail, Co founder of Styled by Africa – Africa’s premier online shopping destination for ethically sourced statement pieces from across the continent and it’s diaspora. Take a look at what she had to say below.

Name: Alae Ismail, Co-Founder of Styled By Africa

How did you get here? 
By the miracle of God.

Are you stressed?
 Sometimes, it’s difficult when you have high expectations of yourself and feel like you’re punching above your weight.

Who would you snog, marry or avoid Snog Idris Elba, Marry Barack Obama, avoid Justin Bieber.

What advice would you give to a younger you? Use your time wisely and question everything.

 Which living person do you most admire? Oprah

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you? A few years ago I was heading to a fashion event with some influential people in the industry attending and the dress code was hipster chic. I was parking my car and getting ready to change my shoes, I couldn’t find my heels anywhere. To my horror I realised that I was left with my crusty house slippers and thick pink furry socks. All the shoe shops around the area were closed and as you could imagine I was crying over the phone to my friend adamant that I wasn’t going in. Luckily, I had a close friend who happened to be the same size as me and kindly swapped shoes. Thank goodness for friends! Lesson learnt, never leave the house for an event without your heels.

Are you scared of death? No, it’s the only thing you’re certain of in this world.

Which film character do you most identify with? And why? 
Nana Yaa from An African City, she’s an explorer and questions everything.

(Apart from religious texts) Name one book you think everyone should read? Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg.

I couldn’t have said this better myself: “When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.” – Sheryl Sandberg

What has been the peak and pit of your day? (Highs and lows) Peak has been speaking at the New African Woman Forum on African consumerism and sustainable fashion whilst surrounded by inspirational women. Pit has been not having enough hours in the day to watch all episodes of House of Cards.

What’s your walking style? Focused and fast.

What’s trending for you? In celebration of International Women’s Day the hashtag #gamechangers has been inspirational. It’s made me reflect on the amazing young women who’ve been breaking boundaries such as 14 year old Zuriel Oduwole who recently won the New African Woman on the Rise for her work on advocating education.

Who is in the party in your head? Solange Knowles, Michelle Obama and Janelle Monae

If you could change one thing? I would encourage the empowerment and financial independency of women so they have more control over their decision-making process.

Who would you vote for as president of the United States of Africa? Mimi Alemayehou

What’s the most unwise purchase you’ve ever made? Dress from Primark – the buttons on the dress were falling off, the stitching wasn’t finished very well and the quality of the material was of poor quality. This is why you should always buy items that are high quality and would last you a lifetime.

What’s your guilty pleasure? Red velvet cupcakes.

Alae Ismail and Kiran Yoliswa met in 2007 while studying Biomedical Science together at Queen Mary University of London. Bonding over a shared interest in pursuing the road less travelled and a passion for using creativity to create change- they’ve been best friends ever since. Together they launched the Styled by Africa store as an online only platform in 2013. They are committed to being a platform for stylish and ethically sourced clothing, having had a showroom in Pop Brixton, London. Visit the site here.

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