Hafsa Issa-Salwe has come a long way since she started blogging last July. Her blog, Muslimah Beauty initially started out as a space for Muslin women to curb stereotypes about their place in the beauty world. Today it is a go to place for other beauty obsessives and where women can learn to develop themselves inside and out. Now Muslimah Beauty is an award winning blog that picked up Best Indie Blog at the P&G Beauty and Grooming Awards as well as being shortlisted for awards with Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire. This amazing success has won Hafsa many followers and she is often asked to talk at industry event which she balances along with studying her degree in International Business. She took time out of her busy schedule to tell me more about blogging.
What made you start blogging?
I’ve always loved writing, English Literature was my favourite subject at school and I just have had an interest in words, literature and writing for a long time so it’s natural for me. Beauty was never something I considered to do, however a friend suggested I start a blog and write it but it was only months later when I was in Egypt, unable to leave the house because of a protest on that day that I decided to start Muslimah Beauty.
Describe the concept behind Muslimah Beauty and how did you come up with the name?
The concept behind Muslimah Beauty is that it’s a beauty blog with a difference; I write about a variety of things surrounding beauty such as product reviews, skincare advice and the beauty industry. I’m very much into business and economy so I do try to add some of that into the blog by interviewing people in the beauty industry with varied careers like celebrity nail technicians to marketing consultants. I also try to create a global readership with Muslimah Beauty, I have readers all over the world so I try to write about products and brands that they can find, but also global brands and products that they may not necessarily have heard of, but would be interested in knowing about. For example, I just recently wrote about a soap scented with a popular bakhoor that’s readily available in the Middle East, but it was the readers in the UK who seemed to be most interested in trying it. With the name, Muslimah is the word for a female Muslim in Arabic and I feel like my identity as a Muslim women is very important to me so I decided to go with that name.
Over the last few years bloggers have really made their mark in blogsphere, how do you think they will continue to push the boundaries over the next few years?
Bloggers have already pushed boundaries that seemed impossible to get through such as working with brands on the level that magazines do, for example collaborations and that’s a huge accomplishment for bloggers and how seriously they’re taken, but I think the future will be a lot brighter. I think bloggers will essentially create their own brand identity and a career based on that. Also, I can see the influence of bloggers being taken a lot more seriously than it is now. Bloggers are influencers and it’s a shame that many brands don’t recognise that, however I think that’ll change soon.
Your blog is very elegant, how did you decide on the look?
I like things to be aesthetically simple, I hate clutter and mess so I needed to project that with the blog design. It needed to be simple, easy on the eyes and easy to navigate so I worked with a blogger and designer Faye who blogs at Girl Does Geek to create the look for the blog. She helped me a lot with bringing my ideas to life, and even though it’s a very simple design, it did take a lot of thought into getting to look right!
What do you do when you are not working on your blog?
I’m a full time business student as well as beauty editor of an online magazine, The Horn Online which is for and by young Somali adults covering topics ranging from current affairs to fashion. Other than writing for my blog, coursework or the magazine, I’m reading and I usually read books about politics, history and current affairs. I also whip up butters, scrubs and soaps when I have the time!
Describe a typical day in the life of Hafsa.
My days are incredibly varied but if it’s a day where I’m going to university, I’ll attend my lectures and will probably be sending emails and writing in between them. There are days where I absolutely have nothing to do but other days I’m running around London going to this event, that lecture, visiting family and doing errands.
What are your favourite glossy magazines?
I really love Glamour for its beauty pages, the first thing I do when I buy Glamour is go straight to the beauty section. I also like Sisters Magazine, Haute Muse and Marie Claire.
How do you see your blog evolving over the next two years?
I’m incredibly optimistic for Muslimah Beauty in the coming years. I’m not entirely sure but hopefully I’ll still be writing and possibly events and workshops too. I think it’s important to connect with my readers so meeting and working with them would be a huge honour for me.
Check out Hafsa’s blog.
Follow Hafsa on Twitter.