TDS Meets: Nancie Mwai

Nancie Mwai. It’s impossible to get through a fashion blogging series without her name popping up a few times. For good reason of course. Her first blog, The Fashion Notebook, was the premier dive into the world of Kenyan fashion blogging. Believe it or not, being a fashion blogger back in 2010 wasn’t all too common. Nancie, a university student at the time, was already a big reader of international blogs when she realised that there weren’t any Kenyan blogs putting out local fashion content and decided to start her own. This blog went on to win her two BAKE awards; something that hasn’t happened in the fashion category since the awards inception.

Photography supplied courtesy of [Paul Masamo / Nancie Mwai]
Photography supplied courtesy of [Paul Masamo / Nancie Mwai]

When I set out to interview Nancie, I forgot to take into account that her original story is already widely documented. I can only cringe at what she must have felt like when she heard another ‘tell us about your style’ question.  Which leads me to my first lesson on this fashion blogger veteran; she’s a professional. Honestly, if I was in her position I probably would have answered with an eye roll (and then ensured that the writer put my answer down as *eye roll*). She’s a professional not just in answering all my questions but also in her general conduct in the public eye and on her blog. One key part being, giving credit where it’s due. In posts such as ‘A new Elegance’, she takes time to acknowledge the photographer, fashion and makeup stylist for their contribution to the post. You’ll also see that she is keen to distinguish when she’s giving a review and when she has partnered with a company for a product featured.

Photography supplied courtesy of [Photography By June July / Nancie Mwai]
Photography supplied courtesy of [Photography By June July / Nancie Mwai]

A few other lessons you can learn by observing Nancie:

Growth is important

It has been six years since she started and although she has experienced a lot of success via the Fashion Notebook [it took her to Berlin Fashion Week and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 launch in South Africa] she doesn’t take that as a pass to get comfortable. Instead she bid the Fashion Notebook farewell and took down majority of the posts. “I decided to change to a self-titled blog space because I felt that I had outgrown it and it was time for a rebrand,” explains Nancie. The sleek new site reflects more than just her personal style, and branches into lifestyle categories such as beauty, travel, lifestyle and health.

Personal style wise, you’ll even see that she continuously strives to improve herself by learning from the international fashion blogger success stories. For example, she’s began to incorporate mood boards into her projects. On her blog post Mood, she explains that, “Since getting back into blogging, I vowed to create a mood with the images I share on the blog. Sometimes I hit the nail on the head and sometimes I fail, but that’s how we learn. Some of the best bloggers in the world have a thought process and they consult with their photographer on the direction or the mood they want to give off.”

Photography supplied courtesy of [Paul Masamo / Nancie Mwai]
Photography supplied courtesy of [Paul Masamo / Nancie Mwai]
Appreciate where you’ve come from

While most of us would rather burn the evidence of any signs of faux pas fashion decisions, she’s not afraid to show them. She recently shared a comparison of her beauty-style growth so far on her Instagram page. Sometimes a look back on how much you’ve achieved is just what you need to spark some extra motivation.  I’ll let the picture speak for itself.

[Photography supplied courtesy of Nancie Mwai]
[Photography supplied courtesy of Nancie Mwai]
Authenticity and relatability

Photography supplied courtesy of [Paul Masamo / Nancie Mwai]
Photography supplied courtesy of [Paul Masamo / Nancie Mwai]
From afar, she may seem untouchable, especially when she’s wearing a designer Adele Déjak belt. But then you read one of her blog posts and you realise that this fashionable brand (aka Nancie) is actually quite relatable. In each post you’ll learn a little more about her as an individual, from the fact that she wasn’t so sure about her path in her early twenties, to struggling with adopting a healthy lifestyle or building self-confidence. “My blog is a platform which I share, educate and entertain my readers,” explains Nancie. “I was glad to share the pregnancy part of my life and currently I’m getting more and more into the health and fitness lifestyle and I want to share that.”

Photography supplied courtesy of [MINDZ EYE KE / Nancie Mwai]
Photography supplied courtesy of [MINDZ EYE KE / Nancie Mwai]
The fact that she’s quit and re-joined the gym as many times as most of us have, but finally found the resolve to get healthy and fit, just makes reading the blog even more inspiring. That the beauty of fashion does derive a lot from taking care of yourself (and loving yourself too). “I used to feel a level of pressure to maintain a certain appearance but not anymore. Life is easier if you live for you and not for others,” says Nancie.

Photography supplied courtesy of [Paul Masamo / Nancie Mwai]
Photography supplied courtesy of [Paul Masamo / Nancie Mwai]
Share what you’ve learnt

Now that the industry has become quite saturated with fashion bloggers, you’d think she’d keep her cards close to her chest. Yet it’s quite the contrary and you can gain small pearls of wisdom from her post, such as how to start a blog, Love your Craft or how to make money from your blog.  My personal favourite being the advice from cost per wear. How many of us have loved an outfit but are haunted by the fact that you’ll be called out for outfit repeating?!! In her words, “Cost Per Wear is a life changing formula that helps you know the worth of an item you’re buying… Cost Per Wear (CPW)= Total Cost Of Item / Number of Days you’ll wear it” Probably will nip my shopping habits in the bud too.

Photography supplied courtesy of [Paul Masamo / Nancie Mwai]
Photography supplied courtesy of [Paul Masamo / Nancie Mwai]
Learn from your mistakes

During the interview, she mentioned that her greatest failure in her fashion blogging career was, “Not developing my YouTube earlier on. I joined YouTube in 2010 but was never consistent.” Instead of leaving it at the realisation stage, she vows that we’ll see much more video content this year on her YouTube channel. She’s not only began sharing the videos but she’s also sharing her experiences so far with vlogging; instead of trying to propagate that the transitioning is simple.

Photography supplied courtesy of [Paul Masamo / Nancie Mwai]
Photography supplied courtesy of [Paul Masamo / Nancie Mwai]

So whether you are an aspiring fashion blogger or you’re thinking of making changes to your blog, in the words of Nancie, “Just do it! Work with what you have at the moment and tell your story. Stand out from the crowd, try not to fit in. Take risks.”

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