Yesterday I was on the Nigel Pierce show on GHFM, and straight afterward Malick shot this look for me. I enjoyed chatting to Nigel so much I can’t even remember what we spoke about on air and what was said off air. He’s been bringing bloggers in and out of studio lately because he’s so interested in the growth of the industry, and says he can’t get over how professional all of us are (he’s had about 6 of us in studio already) and what the industry has become.
In what can easily be perceived as a field where competition is rife and almost necessary, especially because we’re mostly women, I beg to differ entirely. Yes, while it’s great to look at how high others have set the bar, that is not an invitation to compete. As someone that’s been doing this for just under six years all I’m interested in is seeing the industry grow and become bigger, stronger and a force to be reckoned with. And yes, capitalising off my own authenticity and building a brand that is quintessentially me.
What many people and bloggers alike don’t realise (and at one stage, I was one of those people) is that another blogger’s success is not your failure. Rather, think of it this way; as South African bloggers, you’re all a big family, and right now your family needs a stable home. Each paid campaign or deal you or your family members sign, however big or small, is another brick added to that structure. If we work really hard and don’t let others push us around, guess what would happen? We could build the tallest building, ie: the industry would be stronger than we ever imagined. And brands wouldn’t be allowed to flinch when you send through your rates.
Of course we don’t all act like a family, or some members are older or closer to others and that’s okay too! I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t bitchiness or that I haven’t been guilty of it myself. There are bloggers who leave the sweetest comments on your pictures but are really mean in person and the competitive streak has come out in most of us at some point.
As a result, bloggers in SA often compete for the same brands. A typical example: someone books something cool with MAC or gets a really amazing press drop from them. What happens next? Other bloggers bring out their MAC from 1929 that they don’t even like anymore and start tagging and hashtagging like crazy to get MAC’s attention. You may be successful in doing this, but frankly, you’re more likely to be shooting yourself in the foot! Because maybe MAC only has budget for a that person, so you can tag until you’re blue in the face but it may never happen for you. Rather, the smart thing to do would be to look at Bobbi Brown, Smashbox, Elizabeth Arden and approach them with an angle that you appreciate the brand (I’m assuming here that you do), show them a body of your work and then show them “Did you know MAC does this with bloggers?” – chances are their egos won’t want to be left behind, and Bob’s your uncle, you have a deal. And you’ve added another brick to the industry house by bringing another brand on board! Go you!
Remember, your blogging career doesn’t begin and end with the brands that are sponsoring your peers. Even if there are 100 amazing fashion bloggers out there in SA, there are probably over 1000 brands. There are more than enough to go around. So do your thing, be yourself (because that is your power), produce original quality content and just be nice! :)
For those outside the bloggersphere, I know I may be making this sound like a cash cow you may/may not have been aware of, and it may seem to lack authenticity. But on the contrary and in a nutshell, I only work with brands I would actually use or resonate with, and all content produced is on my terms, conditions and curation. It’s still me, it’s just where Business Aqeelah and Creative Aqeelah meet. I did a bit of modelling years ago, and it was always up to the client, and I had no say in what I wore or did. I had no say in the hours I worked, and it killed my confidence that I had to fit someone’s mould, often told I’m not white/coloured/asian enough, not thin enough etc. This time around, I am booked for being myself; I write, art direct, get in front of the camera and create brand awareness by showing how I would incorporate a brand’s offering organically into my life. Many brands are now opting to do more work with bloggers because of the relatable aspect they have with their readers, but that is a responsibility and relationship (with readers that is), that I take pretty seriously.
Okay so this post ended up being WAY longer than I’d planned! Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below or tweet me @SAFashionbreed. And keep it clean okay? ;)
Lip colour (old Proenza Schouler MAC collaboration), Sass Diva choker (2012), River Island dress, Topshop jeans, Forever 21 heels, Marc Jacobs watch from American Swiss, Miu Miu shades from Sunglass Hut.
Photographs by my husband, he’s getting better each time <3