In this month’s instalment of Solo’s Corner, I managed to steal a few minutes from one of South Africa’s OG fashion bloggers-come-make up artist and entrepreneur, Aqeelah Harron Ally, from the Fashion Breed blog.
Aqeelah has been running Fashion Breed for six years now, during which she graduated from UCT, became a flight attendant, worked at an eCommerce business and then finally took the plunge to become a full time blogger/business woman.
Shortly after Aqeelah blessed the UCT FashSoc with some insights from her fashion industry journey – most notably to find your niche, look elsewhere for inspiration and to just keep putting yourself out there, because as long as you’re putting out quality content it for the right reasons, success is inevitable – I got to sit down with her at her alma mater at the New Engineering Building of UCT and bring the conversation to a more lighthearted tone. Like before, the point of Solo’s Corner is to just bring your faves to a more personal level – I mean I’ve been following Aqeelah for about +-4 years and I learnt new things during this sit down. So let’s begin!
You’ve been in the blogging game for a long time – about six years – so for the new readers, can you just explain what inspired the name of your blog?
Okay, so I literally knew it was going to be about fashion and I wanted the fashion to breed, essentially [laughs]. And sometimes people are like, “I don’t get it?” and I’m like, “That’s all it is.”
I guess ‘breed’ – that was such an odd word choice.
People think it’s very odd and I thought that people would get it but then they didn’t but it’s stuck for too long. I just wanted [fashion] to spread and I wanted it to spread through my platform!
So who would you say is your style twin or your style inspiration?
Ulyana Sergeenko! She is amazing! She was a model – she’s a Russian woman who’s also married to a bajillionaire, but she’s part of the Russian Fashion Mob, and she’s friends with Miroslava Duma and all of the cool Russians. I really love her because I discovered her late – when I looked at her style file, we actually dressed so similarly! She wears turbans, she wears midi skirts that go out like the one that I’m wearing right now and it’s so funny because whenever I don’t know what to wear, I have one of these skirts made and I looked at some of her street style stuff and she’s also worn them so many times. I think she’s so cool and she’s so beautiful, so if I can maintain the Ulyana standard that would be amazing. And she’s also just gone into – I think last year – she released her first ever clothing range and Kim Kardashian’s already been wearing it and it’s doing really well!
Cool! So who would you say is your favourite local musician – apart from your brother [Ameen Harron]?[laughs] Um… There are so many that are so talented! I don’t wanna say something because I feel like I’m going to forget my actual favourite!
Okay well then who are you really loving right now?
Shekinah, because she’s working with my brother right now and they’re doing some really cool stuff and Kyle Deutsch. I’m just digging their vibe! It’s so cool and effortless and their collaborations with Sketchy Bongo are really amazing and, I don’t know, call me commercial but I’m also a good ole Jimmy [Nevis] fan! He’s always a nice dude. This was such a weird question because my brother works with so many of these people – like they’re in the media as these people but I can go to my mom’s house sometimes and I’m looking like crap and then they’re also there looking like crap eating my mom’s food and it’s very cool! It’s weird [laughs].
Okay so if you could only take one item of clothing and one piece of make up with you to a deserted island – what would you choose?
Um – like a t-shirt dress! I know this sounds odd because as much as I cover up, I actually like lowkey just enjoy being starkers! Clothing makes me so claustrophobic, so if there’s nobody there I’d wear something super light. Maybe a kaftan! Probably a kaftan, those are usually my go-to in summer. And for make up… It’s between my brows and a mascara. But I also hate having chapped lips… So it’s somewhere between those three – I can’t decide.
That was a hard question – I won’t even lie. So where do you see yourself inside or outside of the industry in five years?
I think inside [the industry], but I’d hope to be more established as an entrepreneur. Like I said [in the FashSoc talk], I don’t want to be only posting outfits for forever because I think it needs to go beyond that, which is why I’ve gone into business with my husband with the [Yours Leather] bags and I’ve started my own range of eyelashes because I want to also solidify something I can still be doing when I’m fifty, you know? And I want to use the numbers on the platform that I have right now to do something smart with it and actually invest in it because there’s so much more to life than just making money off of being known online!
You’ve definitely got vision! And what would your ultimate beauty tip or life hack be?
Actually, when it comes to a beauty tip – today was the first time wearing make up since Fashion Week! I let my skin rest a lot. People always tell me that my skin is amazing and a lot of it is to do with genetics, because I don’t actually take care of it that much, and when I do take care of it, my idea of taking care of it is like (on the days when I don’t wear make up) not using a face wash or toner or all of that – I literally just wash my face with water in the shower, and I’ll put on a very mild moisturiser or sun block and that is it. I think it’s really important to let your skin breathe and rest and not traumatise it with too many chemicals and things like that and it does pay off!
And what would you say is your least favourite food?
It’s not necessarily a food, but I hate onions. I lie to people when I go to restaurants and I’m like, “If there’s onions in my food, I’m gonna sue you because I’m allergic!” But I’m not actually allergic, they just make me gag. And mayonnaise – the stink? It gets to me so badly. I can do Japanese mayo in sushi but I cannot for the life of me do other mayonnaise. My brother and I used to argue and when he wanted to torture me, he’d just get a bunch of mayonnaise and rub it on my face! Because he was like, “I can’t hit her!” so he’d rub mayo on my face because he just knew! And then that made me hate it more.
Ewww! [laughs]. Moving on – who would you say is your favourite up and coming blogger to watch?
I love Keagan and Greg – they are just an amazing couple together and they produce really cool things and something that I actually said in the talk today was something I got from her when I asked about her content. She said to me, “Whenever I wanted to know what to do, I would look at what everyone else was doing and then do the opposite.” The quality of their work is really good!
It really is! And since we’re almost(ish) done, on an average Friday night, what are you doing?
On an average Friday night, I’m chilling in bed with my cat and my man watching a movie. Actually this past Friday night, we had date night and I got all dressed up, everything! We’re real grannies and grandparents at night. We’ll go for dinner maybe, but we’re very family orientated and we’d rather go out during the daytime. I love being out when it’s a beautiful day! If it’s a beautiful day and I’m stuck indoors, I’ll be really sad, but at night time, I always like to creep back indoors, like, why am I out?
And your cat is really beautiful so I see why you’d like to cuddle with him!
He’s so special ❤️
So what is your most embarrassing fashion moment?
I can’t think of one now, but I’m always having malfunctions. Like, two weeks ago at Fashion Week, I was wearing one of these skirts and it was the first time I was wearing it ever because my mom made it for me to wear to fashion week and then my zipper actually broke! So then I couldn’t zip it up and I ended up having to take my top and pull it over the waistband, which is one of the bigger features [of the skirt]. So it wasn’t too embarrassing but, I always have things falling out! And I always have a sweat patch – I’m a sweaty girl! It always happens – I probably have one now! [laughs] It’s just general things, but they happen often so I can’t even be embarrassed anymore and think of one.
So you’re just an embarrassing person I guess?
Yeah! You just get used to it – these things happen all the time. I can’t just have one day when I’m like a unicorn. I actually had this one day where I remember feeling like a unicorn – it was that one day when we all went to that Havaianas event last year. I remember having an amazing hair day, my make up was light and for some reason I wasn’t sweating, and I was wearing a kaftan and I was not in heels – I was just so comfortable and everything was right in the world, and I loved it!
So now we move on to the more quick fire questions: on any given day, your shoe of choice is…
Definitely a pair of my adidas sneakers, and if it’s summer, a pair of flat leather sandals.
Your fave local fashion brand?
I really love Adriaan Kuiters and I’m loving Espadril – their shoes are really, really cute and I actually need to get another pair for summer – and I love Pichulik’s jewellery.
If you had to be any Kardashian, which one would you pick?
Kim. [laughs] I love Kim but maybe Kendall. Kendall’s just classy and she’s fab and she’s besties with Gigi, who in my mind is my bestie, so yeah, definitely Kendall!
Which one would you prefer: spiders or snakes?
What is the highlight of your career so far?
There have been many but I love that it keeps growing – the highlight is definitely how it keeps growing and it’s a really special feeling knowing that I was one of the first bloggers here to sort of pioneer it and that is something very special to me. I feel like I don’t have a choice – it’s something I’m passionate about, I just want to grow the industry, and like I said in the talk earlier, I felt very stifled by a lot of things while I was trying to forge my way and I don’t want anyone to ever feel that way so if people can make their own careers, and I can help even in the tiniest way with that, then that would be amazing and that’s what I really want to do.
What does being an influencer mean to you?
I think it comes with a responsibility to be honest. It’s always weird when someone asks me for a picture – I’m secretly dying and cringing inside but I always try and ask, “Oh, what’s your name!?” That’s like my tactic. I still can’t get used to it. But yeah, it comes with the responsibility to be honest and it also means free reign and the world is at your feet in a good way and I hope that I use my platform responsibly.
Okay, there’s three more questions. First up: do you have a day job and how does that affect your blogging job?
I don’t have a day job, I have like set clients that I do work with sometimes, and the closest I kind of have to a day job is working for A Fashion Friend as their Beauty Ed, but I just in on Mondays for like three hours where I do a bit of work, we have one meeting and then everything else I kind of do at home. So that’s one of my constants, but I don’t do anything else – I just ride the wave of clients and whatever’s coming my way.
And the second question is: do you still read magazines? If so, which ones? And if not, why not?
I don’t – I don’t think I ever used to read magazines, funnily enough, despite the fact that I wanted to be an editor. I just used to love looking at the editorials and I don’t because a lot of the things that you see in a magazine you can get online. But I think that magazines and the way they all come together is really beautiful so I don’t want it to die out completely. They still play a role and it’s a bit of tradition that I love. We can’t all just destroy absolutely everything – someone told me once that the print version of something is luxury, and I don’t want it to die. I can understand if and when it does – I mean so many magazines have closed down or downscaled already because people want stuff that’s free – no one wants to pay R40.00 for something that was made three months ago for something they can find on the internet but yeah, they continue to make the most beautiful editorials.
And the last one is: what are your 2016 goals?
I really hope that my eyelash range goes super super well! So I’m very excited about that. I’m excited to launch new styles and expand the brand that way. And I really want to get more into my YouTube – I just hate editing. And especially my leather bags that I’m doing with my husband – that’s a very special project because we’re both such quality snobs so it’s been a crazy learning curve doing both, but I really want to expand my entrepreneurial footprint, as opposed to just blogging.