HER surname means “lion hunter” so it’s no surprise that Musemo Handahu is an unstoppable force.
She has garnered attention with her bold, non-conformist thinking as a fashion stylist, writer and advocate for increasing the visibility of women of colour in the Canadian fashion industry.
She was born and raised in Zimbabwe and moved to Canada 17 years ago to study at Acadia University. After graduation and in between jobs she started a lifestyle blog called Lion Hunter, which documented her journey and new life in Halifax and her love of fashion.
Her authentic, outspoken, unapologetic and often humorous style on the blog she created with her brother Tendai Handahu, quickly gathered a loyal following and caught the attention of international publications as well as corporate sponsors.
She has been a style correspondent for more than 10 seasons of Toronto Fashion Week and recently covered fashion weeks in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa, for Essence Magazine.
Her style has received numerous features in People Magazine, Flare, Marie Claire, Redbook Magazine and The Huffington Post. Earlier this year she made the 10 Best Dressed in Canada list in the Globe and Mail newspaper and was part of the jury panel for Atlantic Fashion Week 2017.
When not sharing her eclectic sense of style, she creates content for brands ranging from Samsung to Sunwing and Tim Hortons to Winners, and is currently the stylist for CTV’s upcoming #makeovermonday.
She has opted to remain in Halifax rather than move to the more obvious fashion hubs of Toronto or Montreal. By choosing to stay she has become a part of the city’s new creative economy and a strong voice for local fashion and women’s empowerment.
NOWNS: What’s the most original and non-conformist idea you’ve had?
HANDAHU: The decision to just “be.” Despite the many descriptors that one could use to discriminate against me, I am here, I will be a force to be reckoned with and that’s final.
NOWNS: What is the most innovative and original idea or thought you’ve seen happening in Nova Scotia?Advertisement
HANDAHU: I remember always getting a sense that people felt that one needed to leave Halifax for a bigger city to have cool experiences. I believe that mentality has shifted, as there’s been a collective realization that’s been happening in Halifax for a few years now. It’s the idea that regardless of how small our city is, we are, very much so, deserving of goodness. When I experience something cool now I don’t think, “wow, I felt like I was in Toronto.” Instead, I see it as our own. I love how I’m seeing this ideology in my social and professional circles.
NOWNS: What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken?
HANDAHU: Putting my life online is definitely the biggest risk I’ve taken. It opens up my thoughts, background, views, body and life to be openly criticized and it’s scary never knowing how people will receive it all.
NOWNS: What do you think it takes to stand out these days?
HANDAHU: Sincerely knowing and sharing who you really are will always be high on the list of things that make one stand out.
NOWNS: How do you bring your ideas to life?
HANDAHU: I trust my gut instinct. If the thought of that idea feels good I’ll do whatever I can to bring it to life. I’m also super lucky to have a great circle of people that I can also bounce ideas on and are always happy to help me make them possible.
NOWNS: What’s one trend that excites you?
HANDAHU: I’m currently excited about the travel renaissance that is happening in the black community. We are travelling the world, experiencing different cultures and sharing our own.
NOWNS: What is a habit of yours that makes you productive?
HANDAHU: Currently — and I never thought I’d say this — the gym is helping me to stay focused. On top of that I try not to dwell too long on an idea; I just jump and remain as open-minded and accepting as I can to both success and failure.
NOWNS: What advice would you give your younger self?
HANDAHU: You’re on the right path kid. Keep being a badass!
NOWNS: What’s the best advice you’ve received that you actually followed?
HANDAHU: That it’s sometimes OK to let go of one of my projects or ideas despite it not being perfect! Sometimes I end up wasting a lot of time because I may have such a high and unattainable standard of what perfect is. By letting go I’ve learned that the people that support me love that they are a part of my story of growth, and they’ve stuck with me throughout my seven-year blogging journey.
NOWNS: What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
HANDAHU: I don’t know if I’d call it a strategy but more a decision to strive to be as authentic as possible, to never alter the core of my brand or who I am to fit a campaign or opportunity that comes my way.
NOWNS: What is one piece of software, app or gadget that you use that is essential?
HANDAHU: Instagram, because I can engage on a daily basis, and my Samsung Galaxy S8 because it keeps me connected to everything digital.
NOWNS: What is the one book that you recommend our readers should read and why?
HANDAHU: We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo because she’s a Zimbabwean author, she is brilliant and the book’s viewpoint of displacement and finding refuge in a new country resonated with me.
NOWNS: What is your favourite quote?
HANDAHU: “My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude” — Warsan Shire