Supermodel turned beauty entrepreneur Iman imparts wisdom she’s picked up over the years.
I could never have predicted: That my Iman cosmetics line would be successful from the very beginning when I launched it in 1994. I had been told it takes a long time, anywhere from six months to a year. But it was the right time, the right product, and the stars were aligned.
The biggest risk I have taken is: Blindly leaving Africa in 1975 to become a model. I had never even read a fashion magazine. I think about the audacity and courage it took. I felt I had nothing to lose. I banked on myself. The people who are the most successful in life are not stopped by fear. Instead of saying, “What if it doesn’t work out?” say, “But what if I succeed?”
The hardest lesson I’ve learned is: To be patient and let things unfold organically. I believe the universe has great plans for us. When you are young, you don’t learn that.
You will never regret: Knowing your worth. Don’t ever cheat yourself by accepting something less. When I started modeling, they tried to pay Black models less than they paid Caucasian models. I turned down those jobs because I knew what I was worth.
The advice I’m glad I never took is: Whenever someone told me, “It’s not right for you” or “You’re not right for it.” This happened a lot when I was a model and then when I became an entrepreneur. I don’t change the way I think; I change the environment.
Always make room for: Change. Embrace it; invite it. Change makes you find your calling, your legacy and God’s divine plan for your life. Don’t run from it.
The key to my happiness right now is: Quiet and solitude. The environment we live in now, the city, the phones, the computers…I think it’s important to find time for myself and to remind myself again and again to shut it all off. Mindfulness is the key.
I hope people will remember me most for: My service—making women of color look and feel their best and love the skin they are in.
This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of ESSENCE magazine, on newsstands July 12!