I met Louisa at the Pure Summer Preview Blogger event that I attended a couple of months ago. Always keen to find cool blogs I logged onto her site as soon as I got home and what I was greeted with was an extremely chic site with an eclectic mix of posts that celebrated African culture and style. AfroBlush is the musings of Louisa Kiwana who describes herself as an Afropean. Born in Uganda and raised in London her life has been a fantastic blend of two cultures and this blog demonstrates that. Whether it is culture, design, music, film, beauty or hair, Louisa brings her unique perspective to it. She has been blogging since last year and has already made quite an impact which has resulted in a nomination for a Cosmopolitan Blog Award. When she is not blogging, Louisa is at her day job or submitting articles for various publications. Yep she is certainly a busy lady but somehow she managed to find time to tell me a bit more about her life in the blogging world.
What made you start blogging?
Having graduated in journalism, I have a natural knack for investigating and reading into things. From changes in consumer behaviour, popular culture, fashion and travel, I always want to know what’s happening, why is that happening, and what does it mean for the rest of us? A friend of mine introduced me to WordPress in 2010, and I never looked back since, frankly I am still quite surprised that people go out of their way to read what I say, I am so excited by it, and quite humbled as well.
Describe the concept behind AfroBlush and how did you come up with the name?
I thought about the name of my blog for all of two minutes! Having been born in Uganda, and raised in London, my background has always been a colourful symphony of these two places, therefore I plucked out the first few words that popped into my head, and I suppose the rest is history. I would have loved my blog to be called ‘afropean’, but unfortunately it’s taken, so I will settle with ‘musings of an Afropean’ as a subtitle.
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?
I believe bloggers are very powerful indeed. I read blogs all the time, and have some trusted bloggers whose opinion I confidently trust. This will undoubtedly have an effect on the recognition and respectability of many brands, and therefore will call for a shift in how brands interact with their consumers. There are several bloggers that are becoming as influential as journalist, PR professionals and even celebrities. I think it is a fantastic thing as it promotes organic opinion, but I also have concerns over how bloggers will manage to work closely with large brands in a way that enables them to remain authentic whilst maintain themselves financially.
Your blog has a great use of white space, how did you decide on the look?
I studied graphic design for a good three years, and I love design and am a big typography geek. I am often burying myself in design magazines, and love having conversations with my creative friends on testing style boundaries. My blog is meant to look clean, clear and easy to read. In order for it to look contemporary I spend a lot of time curating my images, and selecting features, titles, videos and photos that translate my blog theme. Details in visual aesthetics can appear minor but speak leaps and bounds to your readers. At the moment I am quite heavily involved in market research and consumer behaviour in my day job, so I pay quite close attention to how my readers navigate my site, pages they read and most importantly, pages they don’t read. Many blogs look like an online magazine, and that can send mixed signals. Although this concept might be strange to some, but I actually pay a fee to not have advertisements on my blog. I want it pure and opinionated.
What do you do when you are not working on your blog?
I work as a research executive (very vague title I know), so effectively I research and write on trends and consumer behaviour over a range of topics such as perceptions and diversity. I also work on a freelance basis as a contributing editor for AfroElle magazine, a General Correspondent for the Urban Times, this year I dabbled in some freelance research consultancy for a charity and had a blast. Outside of work and blogging, I love to travel, (in fact I just came back from Brussels yesterday) I read, do some armature landscape photography and listen to music.
Describe a typical day in the life of Louisa.
(Wow, okay…here goes) Typically I am an early bird, so I am up at 6.15am, and procrastinate jogging for a 15 minutes before I finally go out for a jog and back indoors at 7.00am. It takes me quite a short time to get ready, and I don’t plan what to wear, it just depends on ‘how I feel’. My wardrobe generally consists of H&M, Zara, charity shopped and vintage items, M.A.S.H t-shirts, new concession artists in Topshop, and randoms from Urban Outfitters. I make my way into London and finish work at 5. (A typical day at work is an eclectic mix of analysing data, looking at news stories, working with research, digital or design agencies and writing articles and reports). Unless a particular piece of news is hot off the press, I write my blog posts for AfroBlush the evening before and schedule them to self-post throughout the week, that way I can be consistent and my readers can be assured that they will not have large gaps of silence from me. I love a chit chat, and therefore instantly took to Twitter. I have a great following and follow some really interesting and lovely people (Ondo Lady definitely being of them). I am quite a busy body, so after work I am either meeting friends, interviewing someone for a future feature, attending a PR event, fashion show or related seminar, reviewing a product, copy-writing articles for AfroElle magazine, curating news for The Urban Times or reading magazines/blogs. I aim to be home before 10pm, but by the time I have responded to emails, blog comments and tweets, I slide off to sleep somewhere around midnight. It does get hectic, but thankfully I don’t get stressed easily, and above all, I LOVE IT.
What are your favourite glossy magazines?
Easy peezy. Wallpaper Magazine, Black Hair Magazine, Arise Magazine, The Economist and Stylist Magazine.
How do you see your blog evolving over the next two years?
I was actually thinking about this in quite a bit of detail recently. My four key objectives over the next couple of years are:
1) Increase the photographic quality of my blog- I used to source secondary images, but over the last year almost 90% of the images are my own. I would like that to be as close to 100% as possible. I have invested in a good camera, so I will be working on how I can edit the reading parameters on my page to enhance my landscape images without losing my side widgets.
2) Focus more on other people and less on my self! I don’t particular thing I over post about myself, as I have never been one for posing for the camera, something about it seems more vague, but I would like to showcase my relationship with other people. For instance, I am looking forward to an upcoming feature with Theo, the founder of Ubuntu Fashion Week. I hope to get some great shots with her, but the article is not about me. This whole look at me, this is what I am wearing, this is what I look like, is okay in moderation, after a while, I find it just feels a bit superficial.
3) Video Blogs! As much as I hate the sound of my voice, I am looking at more aristic ways to video blog, that is not me sitting on a desk talking. I am talking with a photographer and curator and how I can video blog in a way that is funny, fun, vibrant, random, creative and non traditional!
4) Work more effectively with PR companies. I often get approached my PR companies, whom I either chose to work with or not. Over the coming weeks, I will be going out of my way to pursue companies I would like to work with and see where that takes me.
Check out Louisa’s blog.
Follow her on Twitter.