From Hoofbeat to Heartbeat – Sabrina Barnett
Sabrina Barnett is a modern-day Wonder Woman. As a top model for more than 25 years, her face appeared regularly in magazines like Elle, Glamour and Sports Illustrated. She produced an album, Come as You Are, and still likes recording songs today. She loves horses and polo and has put together her own polo team. She’s a role model for women in North America and as far away as Dubai, having founded her own inspirational line of clothing that’s sold in more than 650 stores across the United States. From CEOs to shamans and medicine healers, she treats everyone she meets with the same respect. Speaking of which, did we mention she’s an energy healer? This woman has no limits — but most of all, she’s a philanthropist who really just wants to help people.
When Sabrina Barnett was a little girl, she loved cantering on a horse — on the front lawn of the apartment building where she lived with her mom and sister. “My mother used to say, ‘If I don’t get this girl a horse, there will be some serious issues!’” laughs Barnett.
So Barnett’s mom bought her a horse. “Probably the least expensive horse she could find because we didn’t have much money,” says Barnett. “The horse wasn’t trained; it bucked me, kicked me and stomped me.” But she kept at it, wanting to be friends with her horse. “I wanted to not be bucked, I wanted to not be kicked, so I really had no choice but to learn how to speak the language of horse,” she adds. By the time she was nine years old, she was competing in barrel racing, a crazy-fast rodeo event in which riders complete patterns around barrels.
“Horses are a huge part of my life. A horse to me is a symbol of freedom, it’s a symbol of true power,” says Barnett. It wasn’t a huge leap, then, for Barnett to put together a polo team after being introduced to the sport a few years ago. “I wanted to make a statement: I wanted to put together a group of powerful, global businesswomen that are not only beautiful externally, but also internally,” she adds.
She wants the polo team to be an example to other women, even if they don’t play polo. “This is about doing something that’s a challenge and doing it fearlessly, because so many of us live our lives inside this bubble of ‘I’m not good enough,’ or ‘I can’t do it,’ or ‘It’s not possible.’” Her message to these women: know that we all have choices and we all have one thing in common. “We all come from a mother. And if we can heal the mother, we can heal the planet,” she adds.
One thing you need to know about Barnett: she has never forgotten where she came from, where she got the grit she needed to succeed in life. Her mom brought Barnett and her sister — and almost nothing else — to the United States from Haiti. “I was raised by a single mom who worked three jobs, so I think that it’s ingrained in my DNA to be self-sufficient. Everything I have done, I have done with a motivation of drive, determination and desire,” she says. And this is how Barnett lives her life; she calls it “living life 3D” (drive, determination and desire).
Making a difference
At her core, however, Barnett just wants to help people. She’s a philanthropist, serving many charities for the past 15 years, including Boys & Girls Clubs, Feed the Children and Wheels from the Heart, which helps single moms by providing them with transportation and helping them find and maintain employment. “I want to help charities, I want to collaborate — I love collaborating with people because we’re stronger when we work together,” she says.
And she wants to expand her work with rescue horses. She has one now she calls her little unicorn, who was 200 pounds underweight when they rescued him. “Whether it’s a four-legged friend or a two-legged friend, there is always a way for us to help,” she adds.
“I’m simply a woman that’s trying to make a difference, like a drop in a very large bucket,” says Barnett. Part of the fashion business since she was 13 years old, she got wind early on that no matter how beautiful someone is, sometimes they’re comfortable in their own skin and sometimes they’re not. She came to the realization that clothing is a powerful medium of expression, like a second skin, really. How can we inspire people through fashion, she wondered? “It came to me when I saw Princess Di wearing a white T-shirt,” she says. “Princess Di was so elegant and inspiring, and such a philanthropist.” Well, thought Barnett, everyone wears a T-shirt at some point, whether you’re royalty or whether you live down the street. And that is how she started her clothing line to help women feel good about themselves — by placing simple messages on T-shirts. Messages like “I am beautiful,” “I am peace” and “Kindness is powerful.”
In one of her proudest moments, she showed her collection at Dubai Fashion Fiesta. “With a simple T-shirt line, I became an ambassador for women’s empowerment in an emirate city-state,” she says. One woman ventured backstage to deliver her own personal message to Barnett. “She was wearing a burka, and she had a tear in her eye, and she said, ‘Thank you for inspiring us.’”
“Our true power is not our brain, it’s our wisdom: it’s learning to be kind, compassionate and caring. And teaching people how to be fearless” —Sabrina Barnett
Beauty comes from within
“Jet-setting around the world, living in different countries, being doted on is a very entitled space to breathe in,” says Barnett. She started to realize that true beauty comes from internal wisdom, which led her to ask the big question: what is life really all about? As a model, she spent a lot of time alone when she travelled, in hotels and on planes. And so she started to read a lot of books about spirituality, enlightenment and positive thinking.
“Then I started to feel a truth resonating in my heart,” says Barnett. “I started to do some more research, and thought, ‘Well, coming from the mind is not the most powerful place to achieve inner completion; it’s coming from your heart,’” she says. Years later, she came up with the Awaken the Heart Center. Barnett harnessed her 20-plus years of intensive courses and meditation, using the wisdom she picked up from shamans, medicine healers of the rainforest and the sages of India, to create a program to cultivate spiritual awareness.
What she gets back
Barnett is a woman who knows how to count her blessings, including her two sons, Shane and Sawyer. “When they were younger, I thought, ‘Wow, this is such a huge responsibility,’ but I took it on in a way that I thought, I’m going to ‘give up’ to gain. And this is a message for some younger moms: you don’t give up, you actually gain,” she says.
Her message to working women is to lose the guilt. “Just make the time that you’re with your kids as rich and as memorable as possible,” she says. That is what she did, especially around the holidays, which she loves. When her sons each turned 16, she took them individually to Europe. “I used to live in all those countries and I wanted them to know what it was like: the food, the smells, the people, the culture — so I got to relive it with them,” she says. “I feel my boys taught me how to be a mother, how to be humble and how to love unconditionally.”
Go with the flow
Currently, Barnett is working on an inspirational book and developing a life-coaching business to empower other women. She’s always had a passion for cars, and she even sells cars, from Toyotas to Bentleys, across the country.
Now people are reaching out to Barnett in ways she could never have imagined. “I have an ability to see things clearly, so I work with people, I work with body tapping to help heal their immune system, to help heal their minds and their inner voices, that could be toxic,” she says. She prays, she meditates and she asks Spirit for guidance, “because I found out later on in life that I have a lot of Native American blood in me.”
In a few weeks, she’s relaunching sabrinabarnett.com. “I want it to be an open place for people to unite, where dot-coms and dot-orgs can come together and we can manifest amazing things together,” she says. “I want a place where it’s not just about making money, but a place where we’re also making a difference.”
The sweet life
For Barnett, la dolce vita is all about igniting your wisdom and igniting your life. “Let food be your medicine — and the food doesn’t have to be food from the garden. It’s whatever you need to feed your body, feed your mind and feed your heart,” she says. “Let that be your food of positivity — everybody wants to be around positive people, everyone wants to be around uplifting people.”
“Be the example,” she urges. “I always say to the kids, ‘We have choices in life; we can be nice or nasty. And if we’re nice, we’ll have a nice life, and if we’re nasty, we’re not going to have such a nice life.’ It’s pretty simple.”
Barnett is grateful for all the lessons she’s picked up on her journey. Remember her first horse? Barnett named her Sunshine Moon. “I used to call her Sunny because she always made me feel sunny, even when she abused me,” she says. “And maybe that’s the message: if you’re getting abused out there, you have to look for the bright side — and the bright side may be just to walk away. Fear not!”
Photos by Jorge Parra
Cocktail/Couture dresses by french designer Ema Savahl
Polo clothing courtesy of Dale Schwartz for PoloStar
Fashion Styling by Romina Sergi
Hair and Make up by Jesus Bravo
Photographed at the Pony Express Farm, in Wellington, FL and, Diamond Yatch and Fisher Island, Miami Beach