“I started my blog just after my son Félix was born. I wanted a platform where I could share my feelings about being a new mother,” says Lily Yange. “There were so many emotions going through my head and I didn’t have a mother to share them with. It was also my way of putting down my story for my son.”
Lily Yange’s traumatic early years instilled in her the importance of family and building one’s own tribe. Fleeing the Civil War in Africa, Lily’s mother gave birth to her in a refugee camp in Uganda.
“My childhood was difficult. I had to grow up fast,” Lily says. “My mother passed away when I was about five years old. And around 9 years old, when I came to Canada, I couldn’t speak English and I didn’t know how to read or write.”
Lily’s siblings and extended family were sponsored by a church to come to Canada in 2001, and she settled in Scarborough, Ont. Those early years, although marked by struggle, were fundamental in her making friendships that she still has to this day.
Growing up, Lily naturally gravitated toward creative endeavours, though she was encouraged by her family to follow a more traditional career path. Seeing the fashion and beauty industry start to embrace diversity ignited her desire to pursue a creative career and create a space for herself.
There was a lack of diversity in the fashion and beauty industry. I never really saw anyone that looked like me. So I wanted to be that ‘big sister’ to others,” she explains. “Growing up I was taught, you had to be a doctor or a lawyer; that was in my culture. But my strength is working with people and being creative. I wanted to be an inspiration to others and be part of making a difference.”
Lily’s website, BLOOMING LILYY, celebrates not just fashion and family but her zest for life. She shares her love of all things lifestyle and beauty but doesn’t shy away from exploring deeper topics, with what she describes as a newfound tribe of supporters and friends.
“I did not grow up sharing much. I was taught to keep my personal life to myself. That was how my family was raised,” Lily says. “It took me a while to share that I grew up in a refugee camp. I was never embarrassed though. And in sharing my experiences, it has inspired other people to share. I have grown my own little tribe. Everyone is very supportive of each other.”
In putting herself out there, Lily has found an unexpected source of healing and solidified a foundation that she never had as a child.
“My foundation was ripped away. But I have built my own tribe,” she says. “When I look at my son, I see someone I created with someone I love. The love is unconditional and loving him makes me imagine that is what my mom must have felt about me. The feeling is surreal.”
Discover More at Sephora.ca/Belong