Meet Ariel Burns, a 23-year old model with golden hair and a pure gold personality to match. Since moving from Providence, Rhode Island to Philly about two years ago, Ariel has been pursuing her dream of modeling and creative coordinating. Always coming up with new ways to combine her passions for fashion, beauty, and music, she has been hosting and modeling for various brands including a position working with Kicks USA.
I met up with Ariel for our interview a few weeks ago at Tokyo Bradshaw's studio where she was getting her make-up done by the super talented MUA, Tyler Hill. Ariel's upbeat and energetic personality immediately made it clear to me that she was in pursuit of the right profession. While the finishing touches were being put on her face, she offered suggestions for the styling and location of her shoot with contributing photographer, Scott Phillips, showing her creative coordinating abilities.
I started modeling about 3 1/2 to 4 years ago. A friend who worked at the beauty department at Walgreens contacted me to put me in a contest for a new calendar they asked him to work on and I ended up winning. We did a photo shoot and I got a really great response about it from friends and family, and it was also something I had always wanted to do. The first time was perfect; I had so much fun and from then on, I knew that's what I wanted to do forever!
As a creator, inspiration comes to Ariel in many different forms. Whether it's underground and less well-known visual artists she comes across on social media or dope music coming from rappers like Kendrick Lamar, she absorbs everything she possibly can to channel it into a vision of her own. Her obsession and love for art, fashion, and music is what provides her with good, positive energy to be organic as a creator and take ownership of her image. That translates into her ultimate inspiration, which is the fact that she knows she's in control of her career; what she's able to achieve is entirely up to her.
What inspires me to create is my story. I've kind of worked my way to this point; I'm self-made. I knew what I wanted to do and went for it. I think that's what I take the most inspiration from. Knowing that is what drives me. Since I know that my destiny is up to me, that's what inspires me the most... Just being able to push myself.
For Ariel, there are many highlights to working with an urban street wear store such as Kicks USA. Being a face of a supplier of brands like Nike, Puma, and ADIDAS that are leading the industry with some of the most inspirational campaigns and collaborative projects ever, places Ariel right on the cutting edge of the world she wants to be in.
The opportunities are endless. There's so many people to meet, so many people to vibe with, so much dope stuff to see. Being able to go to Agenda and travel around the country with them [Kicks USA] and seeing different stuff, meeting different people; seeing that everybody is kind of just working towards the same thing and that there really is enough room for all of us to eat. It really is. I think that's the most important thing, for me, is to remember that we're not in competition. We're all creatives and we all have a certain goal... So when you do step into the world you want to be in, you'll notice that it's so real and that it can happen as long as you put the work in. Just seeing that and having it at your fingertips is what's the most fun about it for me.
Over time, fashion models have evolved from being just bodies for designers to showcase their clothes on, to icons and personalities, to now creators and brand owners themselves. In order to thrive in this industry, it's necessary for models to have a the right values and a strong work ethic. Whether it's high fashion or raw street wear modeling, Ariel believes that anyone aspiring for this type of career needs to do so with a positive, boss-like mentality.
I think with anything, it just comes down to a certain amount of discipline and commitment. For me, what I'm trying to figure out the most right now is purpose. That's one of my biggest values because I know that you can't stay committed to something if you don't even know why you're doing it. For me, when I get in front of a camera or interview a new person from a different state that I've never even been to, it inspires me to do better. It shows me that the world really is beautiful. I think that's what gets lost sometimes in your every day struggle with work and bills; the world becomes so dark. For me, I just want to make it a little prettier.
It's important to Ariel that she is able to portray a positive role model. While people believe in the strength of negative energy, she wants to prove that positive energy can be just as strong (if not stronger). She wants to use her good energy to be a force towards a progressive way of thinking, living, and working for everyone she comes in contact with.
Advice I'd give to my younger self (and advice that I'd give to myself now) is trust your struggle. Know that your path is leading you to your ultimate destiny. Know that no matter what happens, as long as you're doing what's right and as long as you're genuinely working towards your goals every day, that you have nothing to worry about. I feel like for myself, back then and now, and people that I know... We get so hard on ourselves and we don't let ourselves fall. I think that what's important in growth is to trust your struggle. Know that it's all a process, in peaks and valleys. Literally, everything happens for a reason. That's also what I'd tell my younger self — everything happens for a reason. A bad situation will happen and almost instantly, I'll learn my lesson from it. Like, 'Holy shit I just learned something that quick, and it was only because I went through a tough situation.' That's what, not only younger people but, everybody needs to know. Be cool. It's going to happen, whether you're super chill about it or pissed off about it. Take it for what it is.
With a lifestyle full of traveling, photo shoots, and events, it's only natural that I had to ask Ariel how she'd spend a restriction-free Sunday; 24 hours to do anything she wanted... And with her go-getting attitude, her answer didn't surprise me. Spoiler: she's too hungry to ever resort to wasting time taking naps.
It's a tough question, but I think that this is a perfect question because a lot of people would think about this so easily and they would know exactly what they would want to say. In a perfect world, I would do nothing. I'd do absolutely nothing. For me though, I know that I can't do nothing if I want to be what I need to be. That thought it so strong for me that I can't even answer that question without thinking about that. I want to sit around and eat pizza, but I don't even feel comfortable giving you that answer because I know that something out there is gonna hear that and be like 'Nope. You didn't get that role, you didn't get that part because you wanna sit around and eat pizza every day.' That's where I'm with it. So in reality, I'd want to be shooting all day. 24 hours. Creating, vibing, and having the best time ever.
Interviewing and spending time with Ariel was truly an inspiring experience; I got a live look at how she works to make her Dreams And Real Life Align and I look forward to seeing all of the amazing things she accomplishes in the future. Stay updated with her work by following her on Instagram @ArielBurns. She's always feeding her followers with light and gold.
[these things take time.] the poetry book available on amazon.com.