MASERU – A young model aspires to establish her own fashion line and gain international recognition as an influencer. Puleng Veronica Libeso, popularly known as Willow, is a 22-year-old Ha Mabote resident. She did her primary school at Pentecostal Holiness Church of Lesotho (PHCL) and her high school at St. Mary’s High School before later enrolling at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology where she is doing second year in hotel management.
“I fell in love with modelling when I was just a little girl. I used to watch America’s next top model and one of the competitors Tyra Banks became my inspiration. I am the first person in my family to become a model.”
“As I was growing up I realised when people were commenting on my pictures on social media, they would throw in comments like ‘OMG why don’t you be a model, you have all it takes to be model…the body, looks, you ‘re photogenic and we love your sense of fashion’. These comments encouraged me to pursue a modelling career bit by bit,” she recalls.
Willow turned professional in November 2019 under an agency Sothokids culture, then she later became a freelance model and focused on herself. “I got to be an influencer, an ambassador and a fashion guru of my own (I got inspired by Nyane). Got to have a shoot with PhilV the vigilant and Stephen Gotobed (the best photographers in Lesotho). I also got an opportunity to attend Lesotho Fashion Week and some of the paying gigs and also became a feature at Mark-arsty Magazine.”
“Having all the support from my fans has been immensely motivating; it uplifts my spirit all time and shows me that I can truly do better. Seeing people believe in me and supporting me makes me want to do more and more to inspire them and give them what they are searching for,” she says.
“One of the best things that I have recognised in myself after being a model is that I am one brave soul. Being a model and having fans who support you creates even more enemies and that taught me to be brave and strong and never listen to people’s validation but just do me.
“Also am getting more recognition in the modelling industry, getting payment for small tasks like just taking pictures or being on activation. Last but not least I get a lot of respect from the community,” she adds.
Willow sees herself as one of best influencers in the league of “Nyane”. Apart from modelling she became an inspirational speaker to some new models and “wannabe models”. She teaches them confidence which she considers a key factor for any model to make it big in the industry.
“Believing in oneself and doing what is best for an individual should start now. They should not believe that being a model and gaining publicity has to be in the use of pageants, No! For one to be a model it needs confidence, determination and patience as a key factors in this path.
“The model I look up to is Nyane Lebajoa, who is a fashion writer, fashion designer and a famous blogger in the country. I would like to see myself as bold and as well known as she is. Most of my fashion sense was inspired by her; she is not just a Queen but is a goddess. She knows what’s she is doing, knows her goal, knows her modelling career and is inspirational. Being on her side or being mentored by her would be a golden opportunity,” she adds.
On what she is currently working on, “ I am a very disclose person and I love giving people surprises and am also discreet about my upcoming plans because they’re a lot of enemies watching. I believe in taking action,” she says.