On first glance, you’d have no idea that Bobo Matjila is the brainchild behind her blog and visual platform, The Fashion Fiend. Originally born in South Africa, Bobo exudes nomadic down-to-earth vibes that scream the opposite of obnoxious self-obsessed Instagram influencer. But don’t let her chill demeanor fool you; this New York City-based blogger-turned-influencer is taking charge and taking names. Since starting her blog in 2014, Bobo has evolved into a visual creative powerhouse, amassing 500K+ monthly impressions and an Instagram following of 45K+ (and growing!). Her blog and YouTube, in which she reveals tips to her creative process, has garnered her much attention and opportunities to work with boutique fashion brands and beauty companies like L’Occitane. In this interview with BAUCE, Bobo explains how one strategic BAUCE move helped her grow her following and why introspection is the key to personal success.
Bobo, what inspired you to start your blog and when did you launch it? Have you always been obsessed with passion?
Bobo: Hmm, it kind of just happened organically – I had just started taking pictures of myself when I was in London for an internship, and I eventually had no more space on my laptop for all of them, so I just started a blog. This was about 3 years ago. Lol I honestly didn’t even know what a blog was until I started one, but I’ve always been an artist, and I’ve always loved creating beautiful imagery, whether that be through painting, drawing, fashion, photography – you name it.
You are not from the U.S. originally. Take us on your travel journey! How did you get here from South Africa? What do you love and find the most challenging about living in the U.S.? Do you want to stay here forever or go back to Africa?
Bobo: I’m not – I’m actually a constant foreigner. I’ve been moving around my entire life, and I’ve lived in six cities now. I moved to LA to do my undergrad, and I graduated a year ago – I moved to New York shortly after graduating for grad school and to start my career, so I guess I’m still here. Moving to the U.S. was definitely my biggest culture shock because America is literally its own bubble that’s very disassociated from the rest of the world, so that definitely affects how people perceived me and interacted with me. But so far I love it – I’m more of a New York girl than an LA girl, but I don’t see myself staying anywhere forever. The plan is to keep moving. I never like to feel stagnant.
How did you get your blog and social following to grow organically?
Bobo: Literally just consistency. When it comes to anything in life, you really don’t have to be the best at what you do in order to grow (that certainly helps though), but you just have to be consistent. If you keep doing something over and over and over again, and you’re not attached to a specific outcome, it’ll grow.
What is your favorite social media platform and why?
Bobo: Lol definitely Twitter! I love Twitter because I can talk as much shit as I want, and it’s literally just hilarious.
Let’s talk about photography — because yours is BOMB. How did you get into it and what is your number one tip for aspiring fashion bloggers?
Bobo: I got into photography about a year ago – just after moving to New York because I was struggling to find reliable and good photographers to work with. So, I just decided to start shooting myself. It was all very experimental, and I taught myself everything, but the more I do it, the more I enjoy it, so I guess I’ve just stuck with it. For anyone who wants to be an aspiring fashion blogger, I would say “find your voice.” The minute you start replicating someone else’s voice or aesthetic, you’re already two steps behind. Find your own voice and you’ll always be original.
You have a super popular video on YouTube about how to shoot your own photos. We find this to be a very BAUCE tactic because you didn’t allow the lack of having a personal photographer stop you. What inspired you to branch out in this way and start taking your own shots?
Bobo: I’ve always been a firm believer that we already have all the tools we need to achieve all the things we want to achieve. After being swindled by a bunch of photographers, I figured, all I have is myself and my camera – let me just do it myself [laughs].
What is the most challenging thing about being a fashion blogger? What is the most rewarding?
Bobo: The most challenging thing is probably time management. Being a content creator is pretty time consuming, and I’m in grad school at the same time, and living in New York means there’s always events happening, as well as constant campaign deadlines. The most important lesson for me in 2017 has been learning how to say no and taking ownership of my time – if not, I definitely do get burned out, which ultimately affects my artistry and overall well-being … and no one has time for that![Tweet “”You just have to be consistent.” @bobydahbadu”]
But, the most rewarding thing is the messages I get from people saying I ‘inspired’ them or ‘helped them take ownership of their careers,’ and that always warms my heart.
Do you pitch yourself to sponsors or do they come to you from an agency? How have you been able to use your platform to make money for yourself as a solopreneur?
Bobo: Ooooh I love the phrase ‘solopreneur’! Generally, brands reach out to me directly, or I work a lot with PR agencies. I then send them my media kit and we work out a contract that way.
You have talked a lot about becoming a music video director – is that your dream job? What is the big dream for BOBO and how does fashion blogging ladder up into that?
Bobo: It’s part of the dream! My ultimate goal is to change how women are represented in mass media, so my biggest dream is to host and produce my own show (currently working on that right now), and I also love directing videos, so I’ve worked on a few fashion and music videos this year, but I definitely would love to do that on a larger scale. I honestly don’t even consider myself a blogger anymore because I stopped posting in my blog, and I’m more focused on creating visuals.
You recently branched into podcasting with your friend Ekua? Tell us why you ladies created Afrolit?
Bobo: Yes! We’ve had Afrolit for about a year now – and we just wanted to have conversations that black girls are having amongst themselves, but are not widely talked about.
A lot of podcasts operate with multiple hosts. How do you and Ekua balance each other with your personalities? In your opinion, what makes Ekua the perfect co-host?
Bobo: Ekua is definitely my work-wife. We’re polar opposites in so many ways, which is why we complement each other and balance each other out. Because of this, we learn so much from each other and we continue to keep pushing each other to grow.
In your own words, what is your definition of a BAUCE?
Bobo: A woman who recognizes her power and exercises it accordingly – self-awareness.
What is your biggest piece of advice to someone who sees what you’re doing and says, “I want to be like Bobo!”
Bobo: I would say, do everything from a space of intention. Focus on the ‘why’ before the ‘how’ and you’ll be good.