On the Come UP: Kenke Danmole

With the fashion week saga well and truly behind us, I managed to snatch ELLE’s latest intern away from the glamorous offices a stone throw into the bustling streets of the popular entertainment district, Soho.

We’ve arranged to meet at a quiet bar, Zebrano. I wonder aimlessly about pre-ordering drinks; however, the idea is pushed to the back of my head by the questions I’m about to bombard her with. “Why are you even nervous” my subconscious mind confronts me. It’s a few short minutes before Kenke joins me at the table, and it’s instantly clear that no matter where she works or who she brushes shoulders with, she’s one of the most humble people I’ve ever met! She has her feet planted firmly on the ground.

Kenke Danmole is a 23 year old, headstrong girl born and bred on the streets of Hackney. Sipping away on our drinks, the ice is long broken, as she lets me in on what her name means. “God looks after me” she says with a smile, “It’s Nigerian. Kenkey is a staple dish from Ghana served with stew, so it’s a very peculiar name. Even Nigerians will sometimes be perplexed with my name, but it’s short for Olukenke and it does mean God looks after me.”

Kenke laughs as she reminisces about her childhood. She remembers her mischievous ways that set her apart from her older siblings. And recalls the time her mother uprooted the whole family to Milton Keynes at the age of 15. Kenke spent a few years in what she refers to as “keeping myself to myself,” which a few people often mistook for arrogance. However, she stresses that wasn’t the case at all.

From an early age, Kenke has always dreamed big. At just 10 years old her “cylinders with flicks at the bottom” were the envy of the aspiring fashion designer’s friends. When it came to her future she had no qualms about finding her place in the world; she has always had a clear vision of what she wants to get out of life. Kenke is a firm believer in helping others. Whilst in Brunel University she saw an opportunity and brought together a group of motivated volunteers to create an active committee called Fashion Society. “There were so many people that I spoke to in and around University that were interested in fashion, so I created an environment where we could get together and develop things. We put together photo-shoots, workshops and fashion shows. It was very homegrown,” she laughs. “But it created such a buzz on campus we even raised money for AIDS awareness week.”

It has only been four months, and already Kenke has forged a reputation as a go-getter and a force to be reckoned with in the offices at ELLE. She is not your typical tea-fetching intern, nor does she file paperwork, she is part of a team working tirelessly to give us a “fly-on-the-wall” insight, granting us privileged access to the day-to-day workings of the fashion team, new-in products to buy now and looks straight from the catwalk into their rails.

“It’s crazy,” she says. “We have samples coming in, we have things going out. No one has a specific role; everyone knits into one team to make everything flow better. Everyone’s presence is crucial. If the cupboard is out of control, then it will potentially have a domino effect on everything else, but I just love being there and having so much responsibility this soon.”

Talk soon changes to Kenke’s everyday life. With such a hectic new job I can’t help but wonder what she gets up to outside of ELLE Magazine. My suspicions are confirmed. “It’s really sad,” she says with a huge smile on her face. “I’m coming to terms with the fact that I need to start living. So spending time with my family and friends is something I really cherish right now.” It might seem like it’s all “work and no play” for the average person, but for a self-proclaimed extrovert like herself, ELLE surely is the perfect place to be to feed her gregarious personality. The girl who kept to herself as a teenager is dead and buried.

One thing is for sure, God is an essential part of her life, and always has been. Talking about the recent ELLE Style Awards, one of the most glamorous nights on the calendar, she recalls bumping into the likes of Pharrell Williams and Rita Ora. “I’m not a fanatic sort of person, I guess you can say that I am not fazed by celebrities. I just can’t, nope! We are both human beings. I mean, I may appreciate what you do, for example someone influential in some way, but I can’t knowingly put myself below someone. God is above all.”

She has stayed grounded through her strong Christian faith and humbly gives God all the credit for what she has achieved so far. “Being a God-fearing woman is the driving force behind who I am today. It’s constantly my attitude check, and one of my main reasons behind making sure I think about others in a sticky situation. It also contributes to me being self-assured and confident in any environment, both professional and personal. God looks after me.”

This rising star has even bigger plans for her bright future. In five years time she hopes to own her own business as a Creative Consultant, just like the good old days in Brunel. “I want to carry on what I’ve been doing from day one, helping others around me and giving them the same platform to be creative outside of school curriculum that a charity called Creative Access specialising in finding internships in the creative industry for talented young people from under-represented black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds did for me.” With an attitude like that, there is no denying we will be seeing more of Kenke in the near future.

Nearly an hour has whizzed by, and Kenke looking down on her watch reminds me that her lunch is over, and that she has to dash back to her “crazy world.”

 Words by: Mpho Sishuta 


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