A fashion pioneer
Loretta Hove is a woman that needs no introduction if you use the instagram app. I mean if you don’t know her; what rock have you been living under? One of the few Zimbabwean fashion influencers that have not only managed to build a solid brand and monetize their social capital but she has been able to start her own business Xariah Official all by the age of 23. We sat down with Loretta to find out the secrets to her success.
Where did your love for fashion come from?
I think I have always loved fashion; I started picking out my own outfits from a very young age and soon I was hosting play fashion shows for my cousins.
“I was lucky enough to have my mother fully support me because a lot of young people get discouraged by their parents from pursuing alternative careers like fashion and anything in the arts and are encouraged to pursue ‘real careers’. ”
– Loretta Hove
How did you manage to explain to your parents that you wanted to pursue fashion?
I was lucky enough to have my mother fully support me because a lot of young people get discouraged by their parents from pursuing alternative careers like fashion and anything in the arts and are encouraged to pursue ‘real careers’
What made you decide to take your passion to instagram, considering that you were one of the first prominent fashion influencers at the dawn of the influencer era?
I started taking my instagram seriously when I recognized my posts received a positive response and was constantly bombarded with questions on my style and fashion.
Have you managed to monetize your influence?
Yes, I have been able to monetize my influence through securing collaborations with different brands especially in beauty. I no longer collaborate with other fashion brands as I have my own online fashion brand, Xariah that I am focusing on; therefore I cannot collaborate with brands that are in this field as it is a direct conflict of interest. Having a personal brand that is not narrow and confined to one thing has allowed me to extend my influence from fashion and beauty to lifestyle and travel; for example my collaboration with DSTV last year, a move I believe took my career to another level
What are your thoughts on the current state of influencers in Zimbabwe?
Fashion is definitely still taking a back seat to beauty in Zimbabwe right now. There is definitely activity with regards to fashion but it’s not where it could be in comparison to the growth of beauty, so we still have a long way to go.
What advice would you give young fashion influencers who might be hesitant because they feel it’s not quite a thing yet in Zimbabwe?
You might think it’s not a thing yet but you can make it a thing. Create your brand and people will catch on soon enough. Don’t wait on anyone to start; you lead the way if you are passionate about it.
What inspired you to expand to YouTube?
I started my YouTube channel because people were constantly asking for beauty and fashion tips from me or asking people in my life to ask me how I achieve certain looks. So I wanted to share these tips and tricks with the products available to us locally. Quite often we find that we don’t have access to some basic products to achieve our looks, for example when I wanted to do the blonde look that I currently have; I couldn’t access a $2 toner which often results in our looks not coming out the desired way.
What is the most exciting part of the career path you’ve chosen?
The most exciting part is seeing your growth and having brands reach out to you in hopes to collaborate. It’s so rewarding and is the reassurance you need to inform you that you’re doing something right.
What has been your social media strategy?
My strategy has been to cater to my audience, so as much as the blog is about you, your followers determine about 60% of what you post. You need to study what your audience responds to and post more of that in order to grow your influence.
What fashion entrepreneurs do you look up to?
I definitely look up to Nicole Lynel.
How would you describe the Xariah woman?
The Xariah girl is someone in their 20s that likes to look good, while being comfortable which is why our signature double layered fabric is such a hit! Someone who attends an event and is the belle of the ball but her outfit is not the star of the show, its her look from head to toe