A Look into the Life of a Modern-Day Princess.
In addition to being the niece of the iconic Nelson Mandela, Abimbola Fernandez is also the owner and curator of the multi-million dollar vintage collection which she is calling, “The Collection of Chief Aduke O Fernandez.” Along with launching a clothing line inspired by her father, the late businessman and ambassador Anotonio Deinde Fernandez, Abimbola is also due to inherit billions, battling many who are only around to take. In spite of these struggles, she is navigating life in a new city, meeting new people, and really finding herself as a woman, while staying out of trouble and keeping her family name clean. Her godfather, President Dos Santos of Angola, and many others are relying on her generation to continue their legacies. Still, this young woman has her own personal goals just like any other. Recently I had the pleasure of speaking to her. Here is what she shared with me about her journey towards discovery!
What has it been like having the opportunity to grow up around world leaders such as your uncle Nelson Mandela?
Growing up around world leaders has dramatically impacted my life. From a very young age, I was exposed to the epitome of black excellence, which allowed my mind to be limitless. I grew up believing and being told that there were no limits to my success, and that my skin color was not a hindrance. I was introduced to many men and women of color who literally have the power to change the world, yet alone rule countries. I believe that anything which involves your life and success starts in the mind. With a strong belief in yourself you can achieve anything.
What life lessons were you able to learn from your uncle Nelson Mandela?
From Uncle Mandela, I learned the importance of African pride – about being proud of where you come from and your cultural background, regardless of ignorance.
Tell me briefly about your life growing up under your father.
It was nothing short of a blessing. My father worked extremely hard to amass his fortune and make sure we were raised and lived comparable to the 1%, no matter what country we were in. For a man who came from nothing, this was a feat that required extreme determination.
Behind closed doors, my father and mother showed us so much love. He wanted us to be well educated and the best versions of ourselves as possible. He had heard horror stories from my mother about her adolescence in Memphis and made sure we would never suffer in that manner. My parents set the bar high and gave me so much to aspire to.
Share with me about your vintage collection.
My mother died of colon cancer in 2013, leaving me all of her vintage high end and couture garments. I curated a collection of some of her most iconic pieces worn to events, such as Uncle Mandela’s inauguration, her birthday party thrown by the Prince of Monaco, etc.
I’ve sold many pieces from the collection, donating part of the proceeds to the Colon Cancer Alliance in ad memoriam of my beautiful mother. In 2017, I had the honor of sharing the vintage Valentino Couture pieces with representatives from the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
How do you handle the pressure of carrying on the legacy of your family name?
Carrying on the family name and keeping a clean image is absolutely expected of me. In this day and age, where people will do absolutely anything for clout, it’s even harder to pay homage to my parents and be seen.
As the baby of the family, there is a huge generation gap between my father and I. He was sixty when I was born. It’s hard to be regal, prim, and proper 24/7. At the same time, I am a 30 year old female who also wants to be true to herself and enjoy life. I go through the same things as any other women, such as heartbreak, but I’m expected to keep it quiet like others in my position. I think its dope to break down the wall and make people feel like they can relate.
What are some life goals that you would like to accomplish this year?
I have a laundry list of lifetime goals, but for the rest of this year I’m mainly focused on internal healing. I’ve had a traumatic past six years and in order for me to accomplish my goals at my highest degree, I believe I need to take time and heal first.
You currently manage a large estate worth 6.4 billion euros, in what ways did you prepare yourself to handle such a large responsibility?
I don’t think it’s possible to prepare yourself to handle the estate of a loved one. None of us expected my father to pass so suddenly and with my siblings and I being his heirs, we had no choice. I had some prior insight of how these things should & shouldn’t be handled, dealing with my late mom’s estate, but every situation is different. The only thing similar is the grief.
Do you ever have moments where you get to step away from the work and relax?
I make sure I have time to relax. If I didn’t I would literally lose my mind. One of my hobbies is playing electric and acoustic guitar. I’ve been playing since I was 13 and picked it up due to my love of pop punk and alternative rock. Also, I’m a huge foodie. I like to experience different top rated restaurants around the city. I’m new to LA, so everything is kind of fun to me right now. I definitely love going to see my favorite artists in concert as well.
You are a modern day princess, what is life like for you daily?
Currently, my sleep pattern is all off. I’m up at the wee hours of the morning calling Paris to deal with Chateau de Bois Feuillette, our family home in the north of France, which sits on 52 acres that my sister and I collectively own. Directly after, I usually call Belgium to check in on the status of the ongoing issues with my late father’s estate. Throughout the day I will be doing anything from having a meeting with my agents, to talking to my PR and archiving the collection. If I have a love interest, late afternoons will be dedicated to him/her. I just had my heart broken, so right now it’s all about work. I’m also currently looking for a house and trying to learn how to drive. I know, I know. I’m 30 and can’t drive!
In a world where everyone is fascinated by wealth, how important is that to you?
I’m not going to lie, money is important. It can’t bring you internal happiness, but it can make your life a lot easier and a lot more comfortable. I am not fascinated by anyone else’s wealth. But I do believe that if you want to live and maintain a certain lifestyle, money will be important to you.
What are some changes that you would like to see for young women such as yourself when it comes to entrepreneurship?
During this day and age, I’m so inspired by the growth of young entrepreneurs. So many women, especially women of color, are taking the reins and owning their own businesses, making their dreams come true, all on their own.
What is your favorite proverb that you live by daily?
“What they do is their karma not yours.”
My father used to tell me when someone hurts me in any manner, not to retaliate or stoop to their level. There is retributive justice, and it never fails.
What legacy would you like to leave the world?
That’s a really good question, I’ve never really thought about that before.
Discover more about HIH ABIMBOLA FERNANDEZ by visiting www.AmbimbolaFernandez.com and keep up with her on Social Media via Instagram @Hiiibim!
Photos provided by Hih Abimbola Fernandez