Anita Hosanna Kangabe, Ottawa’s Artist Of The Month

Stylist and Fashion Editor Anita Hosanna was born in Rwanda and grew up in Vancouver. Ottawa became her home during her university years, where she studied at OttawaU while building a career in fashion. She was part of the founding team of the first fashion club at the school, and has gone on to work at Toronto, New York, and London Fashion weeks. Today, she works as a stylist for both creative and commercial projects, while building a portfolio as a Fashion Editor.

She shares her journey to fashion, and her top tips for summer style.

Tell us about your childhood. Where did you grow up?

I was born in Rwanda just 2 days before the genocide. My family fled to a neighbouring country and we eventually became refugees in Seattle. After a couple of years we moved to Vancouver, BC and that’s where I grew up.

Was fashion always a big part of your life when you were young? When did you know that you wanted to make a career out of it?

Art has always been a part of my life, from a very young age I sang, I drew, I painted. Fashion eventually became my way of expression leading into my late teens and as a college kid. It became very clear to me in university that I wanted fashion to be a part of my everyday life and that this was where I wanted to build a career and legacy.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a stylist. For those who don’t know, what is a typical day like for you?

My journey was certainly no straight path. I started by finding likeminded people at my university and creating the first fashion club at uOttawa where we held events and workshops. From there, I began volunteering at Toronto Fashion Week, NY Fashion week, and London Fashion Week backstage, which all led me to my first job as a stylist for an e-commerce startup. Nowadays my Mondays are supercharged with emails, and I spend the rest of the week carrying out different projects, attending meetings and fittings, on set shooting, pulling and returning, etc.

What is your favourite part about the work you do? What’s the most challenging?

My favourite part by far is meeting new people from all around the world and learning something new single everyday. It sounds cliche, but it’s honestly my source of inspiration and it fuels me. The most challenging part of my work is the daily struggle of fighting to be taken seriously as an artist and entrepreneur. It’s really no overnight success, like anything else, and I’ve learned everything through trial and error. It’s been extremely rewarding, at the same time, it’s been an uphill battle.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get a lot of inspiration from people, their stories and experiences. I love to talk to people and ask a lot of questions, discover their quirks, their hidden talents, their culture, their highs and lows. Those are the things that help me piece together a deeply moving image.

When you’re in Ottawa on a day off, what are some things you like to do?

I love to spend time with family! Ottawa is honestly where I come to wind down. If I’m here I’m likely in the backyard with my niece or hunting down something yummy to eat around the Byward Market or Centretown!

What are some of your favourite projects you’ve worked on?

Recently I’ve delved into working as more of a fashion editor as opposed to strictly styling, which I’ve found to be extremely gratifying and it’s unleashed new creative juices that I didn’t even know I had! I would say my work at Fashion Bomb Daily has been my favourite most recent project!

What’s your best advice for summer fashion? Biggest summer style mistakes?

Summer is one of the few occasions us as Canadians can experiment a little more with our style, so I say just go for it! The biggest summer style mistake I see is too many layers! It looks out of place and can’t possibly be comfortable for the person wearing it.

3 tips for people looking to instantly upgrade their wardrobe?

It’s all in the accessories! Curate a good variety for yourself, use the right ones at the right times, and repurpose old things by wearing them in new ways. That’s pretty much all it takes.

Top three trends of summer 2022 you love?

I’m not one to follow trends but 3 styles I’ve been loving for the summer lately are oversized glasses and sunnies, maximalism everything and, I’m sorry, but I’m a sucker for the return of Y2K!

What are you currently working on, or an upcoming project you are excited about?

I wish I could say, but you’re just going to have to wait and see!

What’s your best advice for aspiring stylists?

The first thing I would say to any aspiring stylist is that you are going to need to surround yourself with many likeminded people, a fashion community. This will help you in the long run in building your contacts but also in building your own creative team and staying focused!

Which leads me to my next word or advice, stay focused! It’s not an easy road, there are obstacles and distractions and people who will tell you that you can’t do it, but remember to stick to your guns. Keep going, keep doing what it is that makes your touch unique. Before you know it, you’ll be hitting each one of your goals one at a time.



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