A life of a model is challenging, however it could also be fun, exciting and glamorous. And, as one of Chicago’s own had discovered, the life of a model could also be unpredictable.

“Will be there in 5,” shows up the text on my cell’s screen. I get a table for two and look over the menu. “I’m here,” my cell had announced and I look up. With the hair tied loosely in a high bun, oversized sunglasses, wearing a dark tank top and a short jean skirt, she looked stylishly comfortable and radiant.

She gracefully walked across the restaurant and sat down at my table.

Aya Jackson is a freelance model in Chicago who’s resume includes a long list of appearances in fashion show and showcases. Aya worked with many fashion designers and her portfolio includes shoots with renown photographers.


Born in Kazakhstan, Aya has a very exotic look, making her stand out in the crowd. And having many photographers wanting to work with her. However, modelling was not her goal at first. “I haven’t even thought about it, really,” says Aya.

One night, while out at a club, she was approached by a photographer asking if she would be interested in doing a test shoot. Fast forward two and a half years, Aya is a regular in the fashion scene. That first test shoot happened to be the first of many that followed.

After having build her portfolio and contact list, Aya decided to step on the runway. Modelling clothes by emerging and established designers, she’s walked the walk in countless fashion shows. From swimsuits and casual to bridal gowns and avant garde, Aya seems to be able to pull off any style.


Earlier this year Aya had put her skills to a new test, this time in front of a video camera. She starred in CFC’s fashion editorial video depicting a futuristic Chicago and featuring avant garde designs.

In light of trying new things, Aya applied to participate in Miss National Asia Pageant and was accepted. “This might be my big year,” she says smiling hopefully, “But I need Chicago’s support.” The contestants are required to bring a national costume, floor length evening gown and a swimsuit. Designers she had worked with in the past, Laurel Bridal and Rosina Mae, had agreed to help her out.

The pageant is taking place in San Francisco at the end of July, leaving little time for final preparations. “With each day it’s becoming more and more real”.

Few years ago she wasn’t even thinking about modelling and this year she’s taking on new challenges and not letting anything stop her. Yes, as Aya Jackson discovered, life of a model could be quite unpredictable.



Ever wonder what the future might be like? See our version of it in our 2nd fashion editorial video “Future of Fashion” featuring designer Hakeem Gayden. The concept of the video has been build on the designer’s inspiration for the collection and metaphorically applied on the grand scale to the fashion industry in Chicago.


Hakeem’s collection “Blades of Petals” has been inspired by nature. Each piece is representative of a flower, colorful and rich, full of life and vibrant. As flowers that once were simply seeds and needed to be planted and cared for as they grow, the collection has been carefully put together with attention to the smallest details. This collection is symbolic of Hakeem’s own growth and maturity as a fashion designer.

The video takes place in a futuristic post-apocalyptic Chicago, burned with radiation and hit with rapid changes in weather it has become almost inhabitable with breathable air slowly disappearing. It is during these grim times that people have embraced things that have been taken for granted. Fashion.


Not knowing how much time they have left to live, they are not wasting any minute of it. Wearing daring designs with vibrant colors has become the norm. Having to wear the masks did not stop them from looking fashionable. The masks have become an accessory and complement the extravagant makeup.

In the video the metaphor of the flower growing out of a seed is applied to the fashion industry in Chicago, and how it is still growing and emerging. The industry is still conservative, however trying to break out of it. Young, up and coming designers slowly, but surely are changing this industry by introducing a new flare. And just like a flower growing from a seed, Chicago’s fashion scene will bloom. Hakeem’s designs are the future of Chicago’s fashion.


Video credits
Cast – Aya Jackson, Akosua Manu
Director – Raven
Creative Director – Ignacio Maldonado
Cinematographer – Theophilus Jamal
Story – Raven, Ignacio Maldonado, Hakeem Gayden
Written – Raven
Executive Producer – Raven
Fashion Design – Hakeem Gayden
Mask Accessories Design – Hakeem Gayden
Jewelry Design – Bella Colletta by Christina Bock
Editing and Color Correction – Matt Mantyla
Camera Assistant – Robert Parsons
2nd Camera Assistant – Kristine Kruse
Makeup – Kaori Nik
Original Soundtrack – KINE
Still photography – Julian Favela and Terence Lee