This article is a sponsored collaboration between SOREL and PAPER

In the wake of last year's unprecedented challenges, creative communities from all over have had to find new ways to adapt amidst a changing landscape. But some have taken it a step even further, using their platforms to tell meaningful stories about overcoming adversity, the importance of family and following your dreams. To celebrate those who have made a lasting impact in 2020 and beyond, PAPER has partnered with SOREL to spotlight the trailblazers who are continuing to disrupt their fields while remaining forever in motion. From music to beauty to photography, here's how three women are expressing their creativity and leaving their mark for a new generation.

DJ Millie

Shoes: SOREL, Shirt: Phlemuns, Pants: TLZ Femme, Earrings: MISHO

As the daughter of a legendary bassist who's played with the likes of Marvin Gaye and Luther Vandross, Chelsea Dleah's passion for music runs in her veins. Better known as DJ Millie, the LA-based musician and Wilhelmina model has made a name for herself with her #MillieMondays sets on Instagram, which she shares with her 160+ million followers. She's spun for everyone from Serena Williams to PrettyLittleThing, and has remained booked and busy even after the pandemic hit thanks to various virtual gigs and modeling jobs.

What are you most passionate about?

Djing is my true passion. I used to have a thing where I would be into something for a second and then get over it. When I was in the band I couldn't stick to one instrument. Djing is the one thing that really stuck. I'm obsessed with music and when I'm not djing it I miss it and want to just keep getting better.

What have been some of your biggest obstacles along the way and how have you overcome them?

I've had some shady people on my corner that didn't have my best interest and made the process of my career slow down for a second. That obstacle only made me go harder and realize I'm in full control of my future. It's easy to give up and harder to realize your worth but once you do it's no turning back.

Shoes: SOREL, Shirt: Lionne Clothing, Pants: Phlemuns, Earrings: MISHO

Do you have any role models or people you look up to that have made a big impact on your life?

I'd say my dad has musically been my inspiration for the longest. From a very young age I was going on tours and meeting my favorite artists. That always was something I wanted to do and now that I am it's coming full circle.

How have you used your platform to inspire and educate others?

I would actually say my platform has inspired me more than anything. I had no idea the impact quarantine would have on our life's in the start of this pandemic like anyone else. For DJs it's been extremely tough. Once I started doing live DJ sets I realized my real purpose on this platform and that's to bring joy and happiness through music.

What advice would you give anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

I'd say CONSISTENCY. That's the biggest thing. Come up with a plan and execute the best way you know how and don't stop. I wanted to stop doing my IG live show Millie Mondays so many times because I didn't see the bigger picture. Now I've had multiple guests that I'm inspired by and look up to and that makes me proud of myself for not stopping.

Sandra Shehab

Shoes: SOREL, Jacket and pants: Bugs Carson

Since breaking through as a finalist on America's Next Top Model in 2018, Sandra Shehab has found her calling in the fashion and beauty space. The New Jersey native with Egyptian roots has amassed over 345k followers on Instagram, where she openly shares her style journey and skincare tips to a following that includes many Arab and muslim women. In an industry where Middle Eastern women remain a small minority, Shehab is one of the few who are changing the conversation on social media while providing visibility for so many in her community.

What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about makeup because I love how versatile it is. Makeup makes me express myself in so many ways. I love how I can apply makeup depending on how I feel on that particular day.

What have been some of your biggest obstacles along the way and how have you overcome them?

One thing about me is that I've always stayed true to myself and never changed. I've been through a lot of obstacles this year with brands that I've wanted to work with and it just never worked out. I've also been through a lot in my personal life this year where things didn't go as planned, but I took it in a more positive way and realized that everything happens for a reason and I am where I'm supposed to be today and I have to keep going!

Shoes: SOREL, All clothing: Meredith Bullen

Do you have any role models or people you look up to that have made a big impact on your life?

I am really close to my family and my mother, sister, and brother really inspire me and have a huge impact on my life to become a better person everyday. I don't know what I would do without them.

How have you used your platform to inspire and educate others?

We live in a world of social media where everyone and everything seems perfect but in reality there is no such thing as perfect. I always try to let my followers know that we should never compare ourselves with others because nobody is perfect and everybody goes through ups and downs in life and that's okay.

What advice would you give anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

Advice that I would give is don't ever settle for anything you don't love just because it makes you feel uncomfortable. You only grow outside your comfort zone. And always stay true to yourself.

Breyona Holt

Shoes: SOREL, Dress: Phlemuns, Jacket: TLZ Femme, Earrings: Eriness

Breyona Holt founded Exquisite Eye Studios with the mission of making it a community platform for fellow artists, particularly creatives of color. "I enjoy collaborating with other artists," says the photographer, who was raised in Atlanta and splits her time between LA and NYC. "It's how I remain a teacher and student in my field. We all learn and elevate each other." The loss of her mother at a young age caused her to understand the importance of chronicling life through photography, which she took up in high school and has since had her work exhibited from all over.

What are you most passionate about?

As a visual storyteller, I am most passionate about creating art that evokes emotion. However I choose to express myself, I hope my audience can reimagine themselves through my art — to feel free. Color theory is an unspoken language. I've grown to transcend my darkness into light over the years, it's how I communicate with my audience. Over time, I realized throughout my journey as an artist I've had the privilege of highlighting the true essence of what it means to be black, highlighting the richness and boldness of the black experience through my coloring.

What have been some of your biggest obstacles along the way and how have you overcome them?

I believe my biggest obstacle thus far has been learning boundaries. As a black woman, an artist and entrepreneur, I have found it to be very challenging to learn when to say no to an opportunity that doesn't align with me, when to give myself grace and be present, slow down and be still. Being consistent, and always working has helped me achieve the platform I have today and it's something I don't take for granted. However, I've discovered having balance and prioritizing time for myself is what I've truly grown to value. As I water myself everyday with love then I am able to attract more love into my life. Everything starts within you.

Shoes: SOREL, Top and pants: Rachael Cassar, Earrings: Eriness

Do you have any role models or people you look up to that have made a big impact on your life?

My biggest role models are my parents. I believe the foundation starts at home and my parents, especially my Dad, created a safe space for me as a child to believe I could do and be anything I put my mind to. No idea was ever too small or too big, they always helped me make it happen. As a child, they gave me the space to live out my craziest dreams and that spirit still lives within me. Thinking back, I realize how much of that was a privilege — to be and become anymore I envisioned myself to be. The art I create daily has allowed me to exude these same philosophies as I continue to embrace and grow into the woman I desire to be.

How have you used your platform to inspire and educate others?

I use my platform to inspire others by being authentically myself. My audience has watched me turn my dreams into realities. A few of my supporters have been with me for over a decade now. They've watched me go through so many phases — love, heartbreak and joy. No matter how big the storm is I always prevailed, never let up. I am not perfect, and expressing my vulnerability though my platform has formed so many deeper connections. I truly view my platform as my extended family. I have had the opportunity to mentor and employ a few people from my network that has allowed them to get a hands on experience of being a part of Exquisite Eye Studios.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

Follow your heart; it is always guiding you. If there is anything in this world that you want, I promise you it is yours if you believe it. Staying focused on your dreams and shutting out any outside noise or opinions will get you far. Live for you and no one else, because there will always only be one you.

Photography: Pavel Denisenko
DP/ Video Direction: Olivier Lessard
Production: Peter Schwab
Styling: Colin Anderson
Hair: Sean Fears
Makeup: Pircilla Pae
Local production: Cookie Walukas
Studio: Hubble Studios

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