Priscilla Ray Exclusive Interview With Satisfashion UG
As she walked the runways, no one could tell how lucky she felt having an opportunity that could turn her life around. Indeed life turned around.
Priscilla Ray is now a mother of three beautiful kids; a 5-year-old girl, a 3-and-a half -year-old girl and one-and-half-year-old girl. She holds a Master’s degree in International Business from the University of Westminster in London. After dabbling into a string of businesses that didn’t go well, she chose to now focus on real estate, and life has never been better.
You recently turned 34, what has been the biggest life lesson you’ve had so far?
Suit – Kai’s Divo Collection
Has there been a point in your life where your patience was tested to the chore?
After doing my Masters, I failed to get a job as soon as I had wished. I was living in Notting Hill where it was rare to find a black person across the street. So, I figured that no one would hire me because of my skin colour and even made peace with it.
Jumpsuit – Eguana Kampala
Bags – Joseline
One evening, while watching football, I met this random white guy. As we chatted, I found out that he owned a hedge fund. I told him how I was hunting for a job. He asked for my credentials, I shared them. And just like that he offered me a job. To do what? Make tea!
‘How could he?’ I asked myself. With a Master’s degree in International business, how could he ask me to make tea? But after giving it some thought, I agreed to take the job, because there wasn’t much I was doing anyway. My role was to make and serve them tea and coffee, a job I was horrible at.
After a month, he intimated to me that he would have me for two more months. After, I’d go get a better job elsewhere, and he would write me a nice recommendation. Two months later, I waited for him to let me go, but he didn’t. Meanwhile I was getting paid 2000 pounds monthly for my job of making tea. Then, they hired another tea girl who was obviously doing a better job than I. Still I wasn’t let go. I went to him to make my case.
That’s when he finally opened up that he had been testing my patience all this while. He wanted to see how far I could go before hiring me for the job. I burst out in tears and cried. I couldn’t believe it.
Dress – Fatumahasha
How are you instilling the value of patience in your kids?
My kids know that they can get what they want from me if they are patient. If someone throws tantrums “Mummy I want this”, then they are surely not getting it.
Surprisingly, you’re living a very quiet life. Yet you have every reason not to. Is this intentional?
It’s very intentional. I live both here and in London, so I’m always in and out. Also, I enjoy my privacy so much that I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The life of a social butterfly ended when I left Sylvia Owori to focus on my studies. I did Social Works and Social Administration at KIU, before immediately moving to London for my Masters. My life changed since then.
You are also quite inactive on social media too..
Yes. I prefer to have real life experiences rather than living for social media. I live a completely normal life. For example, instead of posting on social media, I’d rather spend that time with my kids. I’m on Facebook and Instagram, that’s all.
Does that make you anti-social media?
Not at all. I believe social media is such a blessing to everyone trying to put themselves or their products out there. It’s also quite convenient. I believe if we had social media in the early 2000s, I would have done much more than I did.
You’d probably be an Instagram model like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid
To some extent, it’s unfair that some of those models are touted as successful not because of what they can do as models, but because of their huge following on social media. That’s the part I dislike.
Would you let your children become models?
Dress & kimono wrapper – Martha Jabo
You make motherhood seem so easy. Look at you, 18 months after giving birth and you are in such good shape.
I’m enjoying every bit of it. I never liked kids to be honest. I didn’t even want to talk about them. It’s one of those things I never saw myself doing. Then, at some point I felt like I was growing older, I needed to just get it out of the way. After my first child, I couldn’t believe what I was missing. I wished I had done it a lot earlier.
You say that your dad left you when you were 9 years old. Have you ever bothered to look for him?
Dress – Bantu by Clare Asiimwe
What has been the turning point in your life?
When I met the father of my first child. He totally changed the course of my life. He made me look at life differently. You know my mother struggled to take us through school. She told me that she would only go as far as S4. But we managed to make it to S6. That was it. She didn’t have the resources to take me to university. That’s when my then partner came in, I joined university. Then after, I did my masters. I was in London for three years, away from him and he never complained. That’s when I confirmed that he actually wanted the best for me.
Was it easy living in London on your own?
I managed. As children, our dream was to go to London. We never knew America or Dubai. So, going to London was a dream come true. I made it work. However, the first year when I was doing my Masters, it was one of the most challenging time of my life. I slept for three hours every day for the entire year because I didn’t want to fail. From not having any hope of going to university to having the opportunity to study at the University of Westminster. I just couldn’t let myself screw it up.
You say you have done a few businesses that didn’t go well. What some of the lessons you picked from those experiences of failure?
My first experience was immediately after I came back from London. I was hungry to start a business, and have something going on for myself. A friend of mine lured me to getting into event promotions. I wasn’t directly involved in it though, I brought the money and let him handle the rest. In a space of just a few months, I lost 120 million shillings. I was broken!
My lesson after that was; you should be involved or at least have a considerable understanding of any business you set out to do.
Then I did a diaper brand, after a friend who had just given birth shared with me how she was struggling to find quality diapers. I did my research, flew to China to meet the suppliers and did a product that I was proud of. The diapers were received positively, but then, no one was willing pay for them. I realised that many people preferred quantity over quality. Then my distributors became shady, the diapers would move off the shelves, but they would never commit to pay us. Then the taxes were hiked every other time. I was strained until I chose to end the project. It pained me so much because this was like my baby. But, I had to make the smart decision, and it was to quit. I lost over 400 m. My lesson this time was; I had to be content. My motivation for doing that business was to have something going on for me, which was wrong.
Do you have any regrets?
Not at all. There’s no point where I say “I wish I had done this”, because I did it all. The only regret I had then was; I wished I had channeled all those resources I lost into real estate, because that has worked out pretty well for me.
How do you unwind?
I travel a lot with my kids.
During the photo shoot you had so much fun. You also walked the runway (and red carpet) at the Abryanz Style & Fashion Awards last year. Is this some kind of come back?
Come back or not, I love modelling and I’m happy to do it anytime. I’m very open to any opportunity, because why not? I have the time. I had so much fun doing this photo shoot. Seeing all those happy people trying to do the best they can to make the shoot come out perfectly. I loved it.
What were some of your favourite looks?
I really loved the short blue Martha Jabo dress. I loved the leather dress from Bantu. I also loved the maroon Fatumah Asha dress. I loved that dreamy purple gown. I loved basically everything. I wanted to buy some of them actually, because I would totally wear them.
Does that mean Ugandan fashion is getting where you think it should be?
Exactly! The industry has grown so much that I’m excited about the future. I couldn’t believe that all the looks on set were made by local designers. To get where the industry should be, we, the consumers should develop a culture of supporting them and wearing original products.
Excellent idea. Should we prepare to write about your wedding gown, custom made by a Ugandan designer?
Wedding? Not me. I don’t believe marriage is for me. My partner and I are happy and content with what we have. Why fix it when it’s not broken. A lot of times, marriage makes couples take each other for granted. What makes a relationship work is not a ring, a gown or a big event.
The answer is no!
This article originally appeared on Satisfashion UG