How Instagram took Enica Seshoka from a township to the Paris catwalk
Just two months ago, 20-year-old Enica Seshoka lived a life of relative simplicity in her township, facing unemployment and poverty like many other South Africans her age.
But fate had other ideas.
Seshoka, who hails from KwaMhlanga in Mpumalanga, was plucked from obscurity into the fashion world after her Instagram pictures caught the eye of Nigerian model scout Joan Okorodudu, owner of Isis Models, a modelling agency based in Johannesburg.
With just rudimentary training provided to her by the agency, Seshoka was walking the ramp at the Paris Fashion Week from February 25 to March 5.
She returned to Johannesburg and took to the catwalk for South African Fashion Week in early April.
The self-confessed fashion addict, who lists models like Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks as her role models, said everything still feels surreal.
She had been turned away by most modelling agencies because she was "average looking", she recalled.
"I had always dreamt of being a model but I never thought my breakthrough would be this huge," Seshoka said.
"This was the greatest moment in my life. There I was walking on stages with models I used to watch on TV."
Okorodudu has been scouting for African models for big international fashion shows and brands for more than a decade.
"I was browsing Instagram when I came across Enica's pictures. Her distinctive look caught my eye.
"I was attracted by her killer bone structure, her awesome fashion sense and her cool-girl aura," she said.
Okorodudu immediately contacted her for a meeting and Seshoka soon signed a contract with Isis Models.
Excited by their new modelling prospect, Okorodudu sent Seshoka to Paris for casting at Paris Fashion Week.
Her starring moment came when she made her runway debut at the prestigious affair, gliding down the runway alongside international models like Nyarach Abouch Ayuel and Alek Wek, both from South Sudan, and Ibukun Sammy from Nigeria.
Seshoka said she still gets starstruck among the fashion elite, but reminds herself how proud her mother Agnes is about her breakthrough after supporting her "crazy dreams".
"At first I was worried about all the pressure the modelling career would put on me. The whole thing was a culture shock to me. I was worried that I would not meet some of the industry expectations as an African girl."
'DREAMS DO COME TRUE'
What's next for Seshoka ? She'll be heading to Paris for other projects, and in September she is due on the ramp at the New York Fashion Week's Spring/Summer 2020 collection.
$22.5m - the amount earned last year by Kendall Jenner, the highest paid model in 2018.
R50,000 - average daily asking price for SA's top male models.
Seshoka said that despite holding only a matric certificate it had always been her desire to achieve something that would change the lives of her family.
"My mother has suffered so much. My dad passed away when I was just five years old, leaving my mother to raise myself, my sister and two brothers on her own."
In addition to walking the ramp, she can now also list gracing the pages of the New York Times style publication T Magazine, doing a fashion shoot for Dior and a Nike campaign.
"This experience has taught me nothing is impossible in life. Dreams do come true, even if that dream is bigger than you."