CELEBRITY STYLIST AND AWOM FOUNDATION FOUNDER SARAH AKIBA TALKS FASHION, PHILANTHROPY AND FUN.
Alongside styling effortlessly chic ensembles for the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Orianne Collins and Chantel Jeffries, Sarah Akiba (@soakiba) has combined her passion for fashion with philanthropic projects close to her heart, founding lifestyle brand and nonprofit AWOM Foundation. Akiba was inspired by the sudden loss of her father to lung cancer in 2013 and started simple—designing a line of hats with the phrase “Angel Watching Over Me,” from which the foundation takes its name, before expanding her horizons. Now, she mentors middle school girls with AWOM Girls Club, preaching self-confidence, leadership and female empowerment. “My biggest message to them is that whatever their struggle is, they must use that to better their life, to empower themselves and to inspire them,” she says. But Akiba doesn’t just talk the talk; she walks the walk— literally! The pinnacle event for the Girls Club is a fabulous fashion show where the girls get to strut their stuff on the catwalk just like real-life supermodels. Sought-after celebrity stylists put together fashion-forward ensembles with donated clothing and accessories. Brands like Tejesta, Spilled Milk and Amanda Uprichard have participated in the past, while hair and makeup artists beautify the girls from head to toe, creating one-of-a-kind, esteem-boosting looks. This annual event is a major source of pride for Akiba. “It is the time where we see all of the lessons learned on confidence, self-love, pain and the comeback. We see that girl walk the runway—not her new self, but the better version of herself,” she explains, adding, “It’s as if all of their struggles shed and their true selves come to life when walking that runway.”