Fashion communication student Dani Keko-Aranilla is a jack of all trades. The second-year student has dabbled in fashion journalism, modelling, styling, illustration and public relations.
But rather than being a master of none, she’s conquering them all.
She left the advertising program at OCAD and started studying in the fashion communication program at Ryerson in 2015. She grew up in Parkdale and says there aren’t a lot of people from her high school who have gone to university.
Her parents are not creative types and that’s motivated her to work harder to make connections and network. “That’s definitely pushed me to try and be the best that I can because I don’t have that extra help behind me.”
At 20 years old, Keko-Aranilla already has a lot under her belt. She was the beauty intern at The Kit, a fashion magazine and online website, over the summer. Through the four-month internship she got to go backstage at the Pink Tartan show at the Shangri La Hotel, attend the international Generation Beauty convention, meet makeup gurus and vloggers and write editorial pieces for the first time.
She was also featured in The Kit summer issue, where she styled and modelled in their “Canadian tuxedo” denim story.
She has a newfound respect for print publications after learning how much work goes into a one-page spread, let alone a full magazine. “Being on the other side versus being a regular reader has completely changed my perspective on how much I appreciate print.”
While interning at The Kit, Keko-Aranilla was simultaneously interning at Elite Model Management Toronto. She handled the agency’s social media accounts and created all the graphics used across its platforms.
That internship prepared her for all the graphic design work she’s doing now in second year and helped her handle running the public relations and marketing for the INTRO fashion show put on by the School of Fashion.
“Everything was so knew to me, you never get taught Photoshop or InDesign in class so it was interesting being thrown into an actual job situation where I had to figure that stuff out by myself,” she said.
On top of graphic design work she does fashion illustrations. Before Ryerson she focused on portrait drawing but has evolved to fit the more specific style of fashion illustration.
Keko-Aranilla not only interned for a modelling agency, she’s done some modelling herself. She’s never been signed to a label but has consistently booked gigs since she was 15.
Her big break was from the local it-girl boutique The Store On Queen when it hired her to model merchandise for its online store. From there she met a makeup artist who works for Urban Decay and modelled for her portfolio.
Since then she’s worked with the buzziest Toronto brands of the moment: Peace Collective, Hayley Elsaesser, Moose Knuckle and Mary Young.
Next, Keko-Aranilla plans on delving into styling. She’s done a bit of it for photographer friends but wants to start taking it more seriously. What interests her about styling is the creation of a new vision or outlook. “You get dressed every morning to a body that you have known your whole life but I think it’s a really different experience when you’re trying to fit someone else’s persona or fit the creative direction of whoever you’re working with.”
Despite all her hard work to break into the fashion scene in Toronto, Keko-Aranilla knows she’s going into an industry that doesn’t always reap financial rewards. At a time when young professionals are switching careers every few years, stability is luxury not many expect.
“I’ve put myself in this industry knowing that it’s really risky. I’ve never been worried about whether I was going to be in a super high paying job, I just want to be able to live on my own, survive and be happy doing what I’m doing.”