Exclusive Interview: Meet Fashion Model Of The Month Svetlana Šlapak Also Popularly Known As 'SUMI'.

by - 12:11:00

Hi Sumi, Please fully tell us about yourself and your background.
My name is Svetlana Šlapak, and my stage name is Sumi (it is a Japanese name). I am 21 years old. I am currently based in Serbia where I was born, However, I am Ukrainian. I am currently studying Tourism and the Japanese language. When I am done I will take up a Chinese language course. I love Asia very much, especially Japan. For me, Japan is another world, another universe. I love Japanese tradition, culture, language, and energy. I love Japanese street fashion, karaoke, and anime. I was born with the ocular type of albinism.
Photographer| Jovana Rikalo, Dress| Son de Flor
How has 'Albinism' changed your life?
Oh in many ways!. My hair started to turn white from stress and my skin became lighter. At school, the kids were very mean with words like  "you look like a grandmother, a vampire, a ghost, a scoundrel" My childhood was very difficult. Some are still spreading lies about me, saying that I am faking albinism. They say this because I used to have dark blonde hair and darker lashes but it's all white now, my experiences make me think people are either envious or just stupid. Although I don't see how they should be jealous of this because my eyesight is very bad and out of  100%  I have only 2% of my vision for this reason I use a white stick to move around, I try to see the good in people. I deeply believe that everyone can change for the better! When we love ourselves we are able to love others. I definitely suffer from internet violence. However, I know who I am and I will never give up on my dreams. I am a famous model now. I appeared in Vogue magazine in Italy. and I am an ambassador of a fashion agency. That's why I advise people to never give up on their dreams because that is the worst thing that can happen to them.
How exactly did you get into modeling and when did it happen?
I never really dreamed of being a model. I opened an Instagram account and soon became a blogger. People were wondering why my hair was colorful "half dark blue/half white" (because it was losing pigment) and why my eyes were constantly walking. People wanted to be educated and I was there. I was soon contacted via Instagram by a fashion agency and I went to a casting. And that's how it all began.
In your own words please describe your style as a model?
When it comes to my dressing style or preference, I don't have a specific style. I am the person who puts on the first thing she takes out of the closet. But maybe my style of dressing is inspired by the Asian tradition. I love Harajuku fashion.
Photographer Jovana Rikalo @jovanarikalo, Dress| Son de Flor @sondeflor
Do you remember your first experience in front of the Camera?
Haha yes. It was hard and funny. The photographer wanted to photograph my eye up close. In the sun, my eyes run uncontrollably and I can't help myself. He tried to photograph my eye for about 45 minutes. Then I closed my eyes and said “Say three four now and I will open my eyes” we did so many trials but in the end, we succeeded. It was a new experience for me.
Photographer| Marko Ostojic @marko.ostojic.photography, Make-Up Artist|Bojana Draskovic @mademoiselle.erzsebet 
How big a role does modeling play in your life?
The fashion industry was the first to accept my appearance, character, and me as a person. I have made a lot of good friends in the modeling industry that would last me for the rest of my life. I also made a lot of Japanese friends and I am very happy about this like I said I love Japanese Culture. I am happy that modeling connects me with great people. There will always be haters, but it doesn't matter when you have people you truly love. modeling is not just my job it is my life. It connects me with great people and I always gain new experiences.
Who or what is your biggest motivation in life?
So when people tell me I can't do something, I'll be stubborn and show the opposite. That's how we Europeans are -haha. I am inspired by nature. As much as man has destroyed it, it renews and grows again and never gives up. My motivation is also my friends who always encourage me and do not let me give up. My motivation is my dreams and the dream I live for. And my only dream is that there should be more empathy in the world and that we should all love each other more. We can make this world feel and look like a fairy tale if we can all work together and spread love.
What advice would you offer to other aspiring models who wish to set their own style and not be like everyone else?
Everyone is unique in their own way. It is important that we are good people. He who has a pure heart and soul shines with indescribable light and illuminates the universe. Live for your dreams never give up. Because we are the heroes of our lives.
My Gosh, you are giving me so much life with your responses and energy, I live for it. So, What would you consider the most important components of your style? Also, do you feel you have a signature style as a model?
Usually, when models initially get into business, they get carried away with the money. And then nothing else matters to them. I don't know how to describe it. But no matter how many photographers I have worked with, no matter how many styles I changed, I will be drawn to the Asian style over and over again. I guess it's supposed to be me. You should never forget who you are and don't change who you are for anyone.
How was your relationship with your body when you started modeling and what is it like today?
Now I care more about myself. And I love myself more. I accepted myself and made great friends. I also have a healthy lifestyle. I meditate, and I practice yoga and kendo.
If you could change one thing about the fashion and modeling industry, what would it be? 
I would like to remove the height limit because I think everyone deserves to do what they love.
What is the most challenging part of being a model?
Sometimes it's hard to achieve everything. But there will be challenges if you don't accept those difficult tasks, am I right? Besides, If everything in life is easy- Life would be so boring.
What are some of the biggest hurdles you have faced as a model and how did you overcome them?
I guess that's when you become famous and people insult you. Like I said before I did not have an easy life. People send bad messages every day. Some even stalked me to the house. Creepy right?. A lot of people also have a bad opinion of models. You just have to rise above the hate and don't care about the negative vibes people try to throw at you.
Photographer| Marko Ostojic @marko.ostojic.photography
If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be? 
Absolutely nothing. I will just keep trying to be a better version of myself every day.
What are your personal qualities that distinguish you from others?
haha, I don't know how to answer this. I do not know what to say. Maybe I'm too much of a dreamer. I used to live in a world of imagination, in a world I created myself. Because it hurts to watch this world, So I guess I am unique in my own way, especially in my way of thinking.
What’s your most memorable shoot?
All the shoots are special in their own way, they are all different and each equally memorable.
What do you consider your biggest professional success so far?
Being featured in vogue magazine and becoming an ambassador for a world fashion agency.
Becoming a model really introduces one major condition into your life which is “Consistency”, Do you think this theory is accurate or not?
Oh Absolutely, you have to take care of your skin, diet, and appearance. Above all these, take care of "You", self-love is very important.
Photographer| Marko Ostojic @marko.ostojic.photography, Make-Up Artist|Bojana Draskovic @mademoiselle.erzsebet
Is there any brand you would love to model for?
I would love to work for a Versace fashion show.
Do you have any special Talents?
I like to paint and draw, I play the piano a bit. and I like to photograph the human eyes.
This is a question I always love to ask my Queens during interviews what does the word “Women Empowerment “mean to you? And how does it help women? 
I don't like when some men underestimate the female gender. Even today, there are men who think that a woman is only for the house. I think there should be equality. I think women are stronger than men (this is my opinion) I say this because of the things a woman can endure. It is harder to suffer emotions than physical pain, I am not saying women are better than men, I just say that respect should also be given to women the same way it's given to men, I am saying "All Humans matter" and respect is reciprocal.
Photographer| Marko Ostojic @marko.ostojic.photography, Make-Up Artist|Bojana Draskovic @mademoiselle.erzsebet
How do you perceive the changes in women, their bodies, and their femininity?
In my opinion, everyone can do what they want. I don't want to judge anyone. Everyone deserves to live their own life the way it pleases them.
Why is it so important for you to run a business that empowers women?
I would like men to respect women more. This reminds me of a quote I love: "Every woman should walk as if three men were walking behind her."-Coco Shanel
How do you empower women through your work?
I want to show them that everyone can do what they want. There are no boundaries, spread your wings and fly, I want them to always believe in themselves and the beauty of their dreams.
How do you build good working relationships with other models?
You just have to be who you are. Like when you meet a new person and want to be friends, you have to be authentic all the way.
What are your latest and upcoming projects?
I just know I’m getting stronger than ever especially when it comes to doing what I love. Every day I am reborn like a phoenix from the ashes. Maybe one of my projects would be song recording, you never know.
What was the most surreal moment you ever experienced during a photoshoot?
Every time I take a picture I feel like I'm in another world and have superpowers. It's always felt that way and it makes every photoshoot feel magical.
What are you doing when you are not working?
I usually draw, practice my singing in Japanese, go for a walk in nature, I love reading books by Japanese writers - especially Haruki Murakami
Photographer| Marko Ostojic @marko.ostojic.photography, Make-Up Artist|Bojana Draskovic @mademoiselle.erzsebet
What is your beauty regimen and how do you stay in shape?
I have always looked up to Haruki Murakami. I go for a run at 6 in the morning every day. And my beauty routine is nothing special. I just use everything natural on a daily basis.
Any last words you’d like to add?
I would love to say a huge thank you to OTS MAGAZINE for this lovely interview. I would also love to add to what I have previously said, I believe we are all heroes of our lives. It doesn't matter what others say about us. It really doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what others think of us. What matters is what we think about ourselves and that we know the cosmos. I think we are all a big family to be loved and to spread love always.
To keep up with her work, follow Svetlana Šlapak aka SUMI on Instagram (here)
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