Talking confidence, self-love and backing yourself with Aysha Nanai-Leifi

Meet Mrs. Fallback.

Aysha Nanai-Leifi might not be a name you’ve heard yet, but she’s one to keep tabs on.

The 21-year-old works in retail, but in her spare time, she’s the founder and curator of her own collective, Poly Connection, geared towards uplifting other Polynesian or Pacific Islander creatives like herself.

In 2018, Aysha was tapped on the shoulder to join a group of other young, emerging creatives scouted by Converse. Her invitation came in the thrilling but unexpected form of a DM inviting her on a trip to Malaysia.

“At first I thought it was fake, because I hadn’t really done any sort of brand collaboration prior, but I went along and took my sister and best friend, and everything kind of came to fruition from there,” she says.

The collective is titled Converse X, and it’s a grassroots project bringing together those making change across cultures and communities. To facilitate this, Converse links up with individuals who have a voice (but aren’t Insta-famous), and turns up the volume.

Those tapped get access to opportunities across the globe, like workshops with leaders, overseas trips and a platform to share their stories and build their personal brand.

The main hub of Converse X is a private Instagram account, but don’t let that fool you. It’s over 3000 strong, and growing.

Since joining Converse X, Aysha has hit the ground running. Last year, she walked a poolside runway, continued campaigning to stop climate change, and travelled with Converse X to Malaysia and LA. She also continues to run Poly Collection, creating space for Pacific Islander creatives to collaborate.

Now, she’s fronting Converse’s Love Fearlessly campaign, along with a few other talented individuals from the Converse X community.

She’s a natural fit. The campaign is all about loving, trusting and standing up for yourself, and doing so with your own words.  It reminds us that it’s not about how many likes our posts receive from others, but whether we like it ourselves – whether we’re spending our lives in a way that we’re happy with.

Of Polynesian origin, Aysha says a lack of representation has been a source of insecurity on her path to confidence and self-assuredness.

“I’m in a sea of people who don’t look like me. It’s kind of like a, ‘Do I deserve to be here?’ question that I ask myself often.”

But despite the challenges of being under-represented, Aysha exudes self-belief. Even her Instagram radiates a calm, humble assertiveness that’s equal parts infectious and inspiring.

“Having that confidence of knowing that I’m in the right place is my favourite thing about myself…I back myself in a way that no one else does.

“[I’m] just doing me, and reminding myself that I do belong to be in the positions that I get, and the opportunities that I get, despite the industry around me. That’s how I implement self-love every day.”


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