When she launched her Instagram page as a way of keeping up with her family and friends, Sameera Afzaal had no idea that she would have 10,000 followers in three years.The 23-year-old, who has just graduated from Murdoch University, created her social media profile when she moved from Bunbury to Perth to study law as an 18 year old, but instead became a fashion inspiration to a growing legion of followers in the Middle East and beyond.
Once Ms Afzaal realised she could turn her passion into her pay check, she switched to a three-year degree in Public Relations and Web Communications through Murdoch's School of Arts instead.
Meanwhile, she launched a ‘modest fashion’ blog that struck a chord with her fans as far away as Dubai, Doha and Delhi. Ms Afzaal is a Muslim living according to the religion’s dress code – and her pride in her faith resonated with other young Muslim women.
Her posts on everything from the latest lipstick shade to fashion-inspired art pieces and pictures of her and her sisters in beautiful saris continued to rack up the international likes.
“My Islamic background is important to me, and I do practice key aspects of the religion,” Ms Afzaal said. “I love western fashion, so I wanted to showcase modest styles that were still really eye catching and stylish. It was something that resonated with lots of young Muslim girls who wanted to abide by the pillars of our religion and dress modestly.
“I launched my social media profile to put web marketing into practice while studying. I wanted to build a portfolio that I could take to prospective employers. I didn’t expect that it would be so popular.”
Ms Afzaal, who grew up in Nairobi, Kenya and loves sporting Hype Beast inspired fashion trends, as well as a more contemporary, luxury style, says she has always loved the world of advertising and the power of brands in getting the attention of communities.
She was captivated by Coca-Cola’s Christmas campaigns as a small child in Nairobi. “The campaign created hype, happiness, and an everlasting fantastic memory,” Ms Afzaal said. “I was fascinated by how a company could make such a big impact with one image or slogan. My teenage years were accompanied by the mantra “Hello Moto!” and the hot pink Motorola flip phones was all the rage.”
After moving to Bunbury with her family 10 years ago, Sameera’s passion for fashion and marketing grew. She started on Instagram documenting her daily life at university, and by the second year of her public relations and web communications double major she launched her lifestyle blog.
Within a week of launching her Instagram page, her images of food, fashion and art had garnered 800 followers. She has since worked with global brands like Estee Lauder Companies, ASOS, and causes such as Unleashed Women to create innovative and engaging content on her blog.
When she is not on her laptop working, she is most likely chatting to fellow influencers and creatives all over the world. She has been on three panels speaking as a blogger, young entrepreneur and on digital innovation.
“I’m obsessed with digital trends and social media innovation,” Ms Afzaal said. “Social media is more than just curated content but more so a lifestyle, building a way of life or selling a lifestyle – it is the same methodology like Coca-Cola’s activation or an unforgettable statement like Hello Moto!”
Ms Afzaal has entered the industry working across digital advertising and public relations and is working on a radio show with Boss Mode Radio, launching on March 11, where she will interview digital marketers on topics surrounding the ethics of social media marketing.
“My studies helped me to understand the business of social and digital marketing and how every idea builds up to the bottom line of the company,” Ms Afzaal said. “They taught me how to approach my career with a realistic perspective on the industry.
“When I got into full-time PR work, I said to my friends that it would be great to one day work on a Coca-Cola campaign,” Ms Afzaal said. “Everything I was doing on my blog was ultimately about connecting with people. I’ve always loved working with people and creating a campaign that is as inspiring as the Coke campaign I witnessed as a child.”