The Soulhaus
Portrait of Samira Ibrahim during Paris Fashion Week courtesy of Darrel Hunter
Category: Art & Design
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I first met Samira Amalia Ibrahim in 2021 through a mutual friend — an up-and-coming creative director and interior designer — as I was seeking to transition into a new stage of my career. Immediately, I was blown away by the empire she was able to build due to her wit, passion for pop culture, and network that she had cultivated over the years. She had the ability to open a door for you in what felt like a split-second. It was clear that if we were to work together, we’d be able to create some magic. One thing holds true in every interaction, project, or story surrounding Ibrahim: her ideas never stop flowing. 

But this introduction is only the tip of the iceberg for this industry maven. It’s only right that you get to know who she is.

Who is Samira Amalia Ibrahim, and why is she one to watch?

Samira Amalia Ibrahim is a communications and marketing professional with nearly a decade of experience in the luxury, lifestyle, entertainment and fashion industries. She started her career in the fashion-rich city of London at a boutique PR firm producing London Fashion Week shows and managing the communications and brand strategies for a number of global fashion clients — including Mango, Oliver Peoples, and John Rocha — leading her to develop a love for luxury that you can sense after one interaction. This palpable love led her to become the senior press and marketing officer at Browns London, where she honed her fashion expertise. 

After luxury fashion destination Farfetch acquired Browns, Ibrahim took this as an opportunity to pivot and move to Los Angeles where she managed the fashion media strategies and a number of brand partnerships for Disney Consumer Products, breaking ground by leading projects from the Black Panther NYFW campaign, global content partnerships with and Harper’s Bazaar, editorial takeovers with CHAOS magazine, and product collaborations with brands from Kiehl’s and Coach to Rag & Bone and The Blonds.

Industry maven Samira Amalia Ibrahim invites us into her world of public relations, luxury, fashion, entertainment, and her partnership with the legendary June Ambrose.

The work Ibrahim and AMALIA have been able to do with June Ambrose is some of their most commendable yet.

Who is AMALIA Consulting?

You probably don’t have to ask how AMALIA Consulting was founded after digesting Ibrahim’s decade of experience. After The Walt Disney Company, Ibrahim decided to launch AMALIA Consulting to connect brands with new audiences through culturally-relevant storytelling, marketing campaigns, brand partnerships and communications strategies. 

Through PR and communications strategy, AMALIA Consulting manages brand reputation. Through marketing and partnerships strategy, it expands audiences. With its clientele spanning from powerhouse businesses like Disney Consumer Products and Epic Records to individual creatives like singer-songwriter Yendry and the legendary costume designer and creative director June Ambrose, Amalia Consulting is the agency you need to know. 

In 2023 alone, AMALIA introduced a skincare brand for men of color Ceylon, inspired kids through marketing and communications campaigns with LEGO, built marketing programs with Disney, and shown up in meaningful ways at key cultural events like fashion week, American Black Film Festival, Formula 1, and more. 

Despite their packed portfolio, the work Ibrahim and AMALIA have been able to do with June Ambrose is some of their most commendable yet. But to appreciate why, it’s important that you also get to know June Ambrose, if you haven’t already.

She elevated the music video as an art form and established the artists as undeniable cultural and commercial juggernauts.

Who is June Ambrose, and what is her cultural impact?

Summary Below Credit: Samira Amalia Ibrahim / AMALIA Consulting

Over the course of three decades, June Ambrose — costume designer & creative director — pioneered the visual aesthetic language which came to define hip-hop imagery and culture. The role she inhabits within the fashion arena is a result of her audacious self-making, professional moxie, and an unsurpassed mastery of visual storytelling and creative branding. She not only melded the genre, but made it an undeniable commercial juggernaut, ushering entertainers onto the global stage.

When Ambrose began working in the music industry in the early 90s, the American mainstream had been slow to embrace hip hop music and its practitioners. After a stint at Uptown Records, she decided to try her hand at costuming artists for their music videos. Her tactical business mind —sharpened during her time as an investment banker — allied with creative verve and an ingrained understanding of the power of dress. Altogether, she worked as creative director and costume designer on some 200 music videos, countless ad campaigns, global music tours, photo shoots and red carpet appearances. Pairing with figures like Hype Williams, she elevated the music video as an art form and established the artists as undeniable cultural and commercial juggernauts. She pulled from forms as diverse as afro-futurism, anime, classic gangster flicks, and the joie de vivre of Carnival. Ambrose’s work can be seen in the pastel hues and laser-sharp tailoring on display in the Jay-Z “Feelin’ It” music video, paired with the uncontained thrill and swagger of a rapper wearing his first custom suit. Another example in the grandeur of the historic, vinyl inflatable suit in Missy Elliot’s “I Can’t Stand The Rain” short film, its proportions so ostentatious that the camera (and by extension the world) seem too small for its subject. Ambrose realized that the music video is, essentially, an advertisement. She used the media form to not only craft sartorial splendors, but to highlight the then-untapped universal appeal of artists who had been shut out of broader commercial markets. Where there had been a barrier, Ambrose created a door — and luxury couturiers and global brands like Tom Ford, Gucci, Estée Lauder, MAC Cosmetics and others were eager to align with the artists as well as with the woman whose marketing savvy first made them look like stars.

She pulled from forms as diverse as afro-futurism, anime, classic gangster flicks, and the joie de vivre of Carnival.
June Ambrose’s influence is endemic to the very DNA of hip-hop, fashion, and visual art culture. 

Eventually, pop culture caught on to her, empowering Ambrose to partner with diverse brands such as Levis, Target, Samsung, Walmart, Coca Cola, La Mer and AT&T. She co-authored Effortless Style, a book imparting career lessons on clothing as armor, intrigue, and the importance of constructing a public image. She holds an advisory position at Estée Lauder where her talent for consumer engagement and brand fidelity undergird the company’s spirit of innovation and inclusivity. Working with Gucci Changemakers, a global program focused on fostering unity through community action, Ambrose advises on the distribution of scholarships and social impact funding for diverse communities. For four years, she has also served on the board of The Fresh Air Fund, offering youth mentorship, fundraising, and helming the annual celebrity gala.

Her latest partnership was with PUMA, where she served as creative director, designing across multiple categories, reconceptualizing what it means for women to be stylish and active. As a consummate collaborator, visionary, and tastemaker, June Ambrose’s influence is endemic to the very DNA of hip-hop, fashion, and visual art culture. 

In Conversation with Samira Amalia Ibrahim

Why care? More than just a dazzling creative within our community making a name for herself and creating a space with her distinguished agency, Ibrahim is someone whom others, who care about the future of pop culture, need to hear from. I wanted to have this conversation with Ibrahim who, as a tastemaker, is defining this future on a daily basis. 

Which aspects of your work energize you to get up in the morning, knowing how much you have on your plate?

“AMALIA works with icons, titans of industry, and individuals who are challenging traditional norms. To be able to help them craft the how, the why and the who of their stories is what really excites me.

We’re in our third year of business as an agency, and we’ve been able to do everything, from campaigns with some of the biggest players in media, fashion, and beauty, to educating the younger generation on the contribution June Ambrose has made to the culture. The opportunity is really what energizes me.”

Is there anything that scares you at this point? It sounds like you have done it all!
Well I’m not scared of responsibility. My nature is grounded, but energetic, and our mantra is ‘F*ck it we’ll figure it out.’ So far . . . there has never been a case in which we didn’t.”

You and AMALIA have worked with a number of established brands, labels, and artists. While all compelling in their own right, one of the most compelling to me is the work you have done with June Ambrose. What drew you to June, and how did your relationship start?

“June and I were introduced through a mutual friend. When she started her tenure at PUMA as Creative Director of Women’s Hoops, she wanted to bring on a team that understood the culture, could understand the opportunities, channeled their youth and hunger into strong strategy and execution, and who understood the limitations that can come with working with a big global brand.

Also, you can’t not be drawn to June! 

She has the most infectious energy of anyone I’ve ever met, and if you know anything about hip-hop, and the relationship between Black artists and fashion, you know how she was the architect of this relationship. She’s an icon. It’s been a privilege to work with her.

Our strategy with June has been to leverage the buoyancy of her spirit to engage a youthful, creative, and savvy audience, re-educating them on her contributions, so that we can continue to amplify her continued reinvention. The kids need to know that the references they use were created by her, and that luxury brands became enamored with hip-hop because she showed them how their worlds could merge.

The thing about AMALIA clients is that we have such love for them, that we become external extensions of them, like family, and June Ambrose is no exception. I’m inspired by the Roc Nation model . . . those at the top have grown together – there’s an unbreakable trust and respect there. This is the culture we’re building at AMALIA.”

If you can tell us, what is the most exciting project you have worked with June on, or what should we look out for in the coming year?

The first project will always stand out, as we helped June and the PUMA team launch the Women’s Hoops category. We led the marketing from ideation, to execution, to PR and communications. 

Launching a category is a big task. We didn’t know who the Women’s Basketball customer was. We had to create them with PUMA, by pulling from other lifestyle references like fashion, music and other sports. It was quite overwhelming, but very exciting! 

Okay I’ve waited long enough, tell me all about the NYFW show as I had so much FOMO . . .

“The NYFW show was really such a moment. 

For a long time, when people have thought about June, they think of her role as a stylist. But when she was working with Jay, Busta, Missy, and more, she was costume designing their looks and creating a visual narrative to their story arc. Styling didn’t really exist in its modern form yet. 

To see her work in the PUMA atelier like this again, was moving. 

To see her design, create and direct moments, creating an experience through style and movement, was incredible to see. To then watch the audience and media’s reaction to the show  . . . wow. It was moving. We were all crying at the end. This was one of my most memorable career moments across the board thus far.

June is the queen of reinvention and this is all I can say! Keep a lookout . . . there is more to come!”

Totally agree with you that June Ambrose is an icon, to say the least. What about her creative DNA do you think sets her apart from her peers?

“Honestly, this question is difficult to answer because I don’t believe in comparison. This is something I’ve truly learnt from working with June. She is so grounded in her talent, her eye, and her ability. That is what sets her apart: [being] herself.”

That’s great to hear. Are there any other valuable lessons from the work you two have done together that can inspire the rest of us?

“June has always said to us, ‘ood things happen to good people, kindness is free, and karma is a b*tch.’ 

She moves in joy and love, and she directs the silver lining. 

Sometimes, we can become so overwhelmed in tasks and the tediousness of day-to-day, that we forget about the opportunity. 

I think our team at AMALIA is resiliently optimistic, and we’ve learnt that from working with June Ambrose. She has also been in the game for nearly 30 years — we can all learn that what’s important is to build longevity and legacy.

From each campaign we’ve built with June, we have always asked ourselves, ‘Where are our people?’ Sometimes, with marketing, there’s a desire to speak to everyone all at once, all the time, but we build more meaningfully when we are creating access for others both in front and behind the scenes.”

Why AMALIA? Why do you think creatives, brands, and companies choose to work with you?

“AMALIA is my middle name. It means ‘to work’, and let me tell you . . . we work for our clients! 

Our partners choose to work with us because we are nimble; we keep our ear to the ground, are highly efficient and strategic in what we do, know how to create inroads where others use traditional methods, and we operate in the way that we, audiences and consumers, live our lives. 

What I mean by that is we live industry-agnostic lives — we touch music, art, fashion, sport and entertainment every day. I think marketing and PR should reflect that, and this is how we approach strategy: with a 360 degree lifestyle perspective, rooted in meaningful storytelling, amplified by our strong media connections.

Our team also has a diverse mix of experiences, cultures and interests, which speaks to our ability to permeate culture and be innovative in a seamless way.

Additionally, we have a very unique position with our Ideation Board. We have a board of executives and creatives who are experts in various fields, from gaming, to food and beverages. We tap into the board when building campaigns to build out the insider knowledge of specific subcultures so that we are marketing not only effectively, but respectfully.”

As an ambitious person, I am sure you are always looking for the next big thing. What is one goal that you have for yourself and AMALIA in the next year, respectively?

“I always say to the team, ‘We work to live. We don’t live to work.’ 

So, we try to infuse our personal goals into our professional ones. For example, I grew up watching Formula 1 and have always wanted to go, so this year, we launched June Ambrose x Scuderia Ferrari for PUMA at Miami F1. I got to go into the Ferrari paddock, which was a bucket list moment for me. So a goal for us is to continue playing in big cultural spaces, like that one.

Our big picture goals are expansion and efficiency. As our team grows, I’m constantly trying and testing new ways of working to streamline processes. We will be expanding our brand partnerships side of the business. As connectors, we are always building bridges between talent & brands, so we will be formalizing this over the quarter.

Because of this diverse mix of experiences within the team, we will also be starting a hot takes podcast! There are a lot of young people who reach out to us for advice, so we want to create a space where we can more efficiently field questions and support the next generation of creatives and entrepreneurs.

To wrap this up because I know we could go on for hours . . . if you could describe your ethos in one sentence, what would it be?

“F*ck it. I’ll figure it out”.

AMALIA Consulting Reel

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