Photo by Larry Price

Growing up I was a tall, lanky girl with no curves. I was made fun of and even called a giraffe in high school because I was the tallest girl in every class I was put in.” Lisa Muswagon, Nakoda Cree of the Pimicikamak Cree Nation, knows what it’s like to stand out of the crowd, literally. Despite hearing hurtful comments regarding her body, Muswagon discovered modeling as a way of expressing herself. With the love and support from her grandmother, Muswagon modeled in various fashion shows throughout Winnipeg. Muswagon learned through each fashion show, with each one as a learning experience for her.

Now, the mother of three manages her soon-to-be husband’s entertainment company and hip hop career and handles finance at the Child and Family Services Metis Authority. She’s also a hand drum singer and is very active in the Aboriginal communities surrounding Winnipeg, her home. What Muswagon is notable for is co-founding Native Model Studio, a collective of photographers, models, artists and designers who provide fashion show coordination, event planning, model training services and facilitate workshops on confidence, self-esteem, and support issues. With co-founder Larry Price, Muswagon collaborates and hosts fashion events that help aspiring models gain experience throughout the United States and Canada. Muswagon shares her history of being in the fashion industry and how she took back her self-confidence.

Lisa’s advice for self-confidence? “Whenever I have the opportunity to speak in front of young people, I tell them they got to have G.U.T.S. –Get Uncomfortable to Succeed. The first thing I tell them is you will get nervous, your hands will get sweaty, your legs will tremble and your mouth will twitch, [Laughs], but if you can get through that first time, the next will be easier and with more practice the easier it gets.”

Muswagon helps alleviate the lack of self-confidence with her work with Native Model Studio. “We host model workshops to talk about fashion, modeling, and professional development along with training which includes components of discussing self-esteem and confidence.” The Native Model Studio team also touches on issues that face our communities, and as a group, discuss becoming role models to help.

Despite a hectic schedule and thriving career, Muswagon always maintains her confidence every day. “We’re all human and sometimes we can be a little hard on ourselves. I remind myself that I have a new healthy baby and my body has been through extremes,” she admits. “So I take pride in going for a run. Plus I have a real awesome partner who tells me I’m beautiful every day.”