No one expected success from Mariya when she didn’t have a conventional job straight out of University. Now she is sharing her Pakistani heritage and her love for London and colourful outfits with her readers worldwide.
First, tell me shortly about your background.
Hello everyone! My name is Mariya Amiwala Ismail, I was born in Karachi, Pakistan, I grew up in Chicago, and I currently live in London, England with my husband. I am 22 years old and a Marketing graduate from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Some of my favourite things in life are trying new foods, writing, photography, and hanging out with my hubby.
Why and when did you start blogging?
While I was at University, my passion for creativity and content marketing began. I used to blog for the business college at my University and then worked in a Marketing Research company down in Chicago for some time after graduation. Moving from Chicago to London was a HUGE change, and with changes in life come new beginnings, so one day I decided to start something I have always wanted to do. My husband told me that while I wait for my working visa in the UK, why not start a creative outlet for myself? I thought it was a great idea. I mean, I have always admired beauty bloggers, style bloggers, food bloggers ever since I learned about the world of the internet and social media. I started my blog in the beginning of March of 2017 in hopes to inspire those around me with my daily life, and voilà— Chicago Girl in London was born.
What kind of opportunities have you achieved through blogging? I have been able to network with bloggers as well as collaborate with local brands in both Chicago and in London. With my Marketing background, I was able to advertise products for these brands by taking part in product reviews via Instagram. The best part is to be able to connect with my followers from all over the world.
Tell me something about yourself that no one expects from you.
To be quite honest, something that no one expects from me is success. It sounds demeaning, but while all of my friends began working full-time and were able to purchase their own cars and homes after graduation, I was getting married at 22, moving to a new country, and planning on moving in with my husband. Although I am quite dependent on him financially, I don’t regret my decision by any means; however, not having a conventional job straight out of University currently has made it so I have to go the extra mile to prove my worth, and it is still something that most people don’t expect from me.
What is it about you that makes you stand out of the blogging crowd?
I like to incorporate my Pakistani heritage and Muslim identity in my blog because that really makes me who I am. I love experimenting with different styles, and love incorporating colour into my outfits. I think part of the reason why I do that is because I am so used to wearing colourful Pakistani outfits that I am not afraid to play with colour. I also try to dress affordable and modestly, and I feel like my target audience really seems to appreciate that. I want to show everyone that you don’t have to have an expensive wardrobe to be stylish.
What are the main messages you want to communicate to your readers?
As a Pakistani, Muslim blogger, my main message to my readers would be to embrace who you are, stay positive, and don’t be afraid to be yourself and share your passion and creativity with the world.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find inspiration in the little things around me. It could be as simple as what I cooked for dinner to what I wore on a lunch date with a friend. Since my blog is titled Chicago Girl in London, I use London for inspiration. I also find inspiration in the places I travel to. I love writing about my travels, and it seems like my readers enjoy that too. And last but not least, I find inspiration with Pakistani fashion and try to incorporate that in my blogs. My readers are also my inspiration and I always try to listen to what they want, so I make sure to write about topics that my readers propose via email.
What is your advice for arising bloggers?
Find your passion, select a target audience, and focus on your niche. It is important that you start writing about things that you are truly passionate about. Another good tip would be to start your website and begin to share your content with family and friends because they will be your biggest critics. If you cannot afford a self-hosted domain, start with a free website like how I did via WordPress. Then, start to post content to start building your following on various social media sites. Try to choose the site you are most comfortable with using (for me that would be Instagram). Last but not least, have fun! This is your little space on the Internet so don’t be afraid of trying new things. Stay true to yourself and make sure it shows in your posts.
As told to: Synne Krogstad
Images: Mariya’s archive and Hinadyahya Photo