25 Jan A Life(style) well lived: In Conversation with Twiggy Moli
Combining travel, food and fashion, lifestyle blogger extraordinaire, Twiggy Moli, is not only a star of On The Radar Volume 2 – our definitive list of the hottest creatives and influencers from across the continent – but a growing presence in the South African social scene. Her ambition from the beginning has led her to the elite of lifestyle bloggers and she shows no signs of slowing down.
Words: Tshiamo Seape
For those unfamiliar with the Twiggy Moli brand, how would you describe who you are and what you do?
I would like them to know me as a lifestyle blogger primarily. I started blogging a long time ago but it really only started taking off about two years ago.
Blogging is an inherently personal thing, so I wonder: was there any apprehension about putting yourself out there when you first started?
Not really. When I started all I was doing was posting pictures of some of my favourite outfits worn by celebrities, travel hotspots – that kind of thing. I wasn’t even really sure anyone would be interested in reading it anyway. It wasn’t personal for me then and it still isn’t personal because I’m very selective about what I like to share – it’s my preference. If anyone doesn’t like it that’s fine because that’s their preference.
You mentioned that your blog (sleeeplessinsoweto) started taking off two years ago. What was the impetus behind the rise in success – what made the difference?
I started taking it seriously when I was still a student in Cape Town. The change happened after I went to a blogging workshop that made me realise that there were a lot of work to be done. I wasn’t creating my own content before the workshop and after going I knew that’s what I had to start doing. Once I moved back to Johannesburg and realised there was a shortage of black bloggers who were working with lifestyle and fashion brands and that’s when I really started to take it seriously. It wasn’t long before I started getting invited to events.
I also think it took so long because I thought there wasn’t a market for me in Cape Town.
What do you mean by that?
I’m more appealing to the black millennial living in Joburg than I do the white millennial living in Cape Town. We have different tastes: I’m more appealing to a girl who wants to have cocktails in the city than a girl who wants to go tanning on the beach.
You’ve described what you do as lifestyle blogging, but that encompasses many different things. What aspect of “lifestyle” do you find most exciting?
Probably travel at the moment. Once you become successful in blogging, you end up creating and curating content that makes brands happy and not necessarily what makes you happy. I’m super obsessed with travel and food right now and I’m very lucky that it’s something that makes not only myself and brands happy but my followers as well.
Since you started out, how has the industry changed around you?
This is going to sound so bad, but when I started I wasn’t really paying attention to what was really going on, but what I will say is that it has become a far more viable industry in that a lot of younger girls and girls my age have seen that you can make a career out of this – If Twiggy can do it then you can do it. I’ve definitely noticed a lot more new faces. Whether they’re doing it for the right reasons, I don’t know but there is definitely growth. I’ve also seen a lot more black girls getting into blogging whereas before it was almost exclusively a white space.
“The thing about blogging is that its relatively new thing in the South African context…So me and my generation are going to be the blueprint for what the industry could be in the next ten years”
Is that the next big evolution of the industry?
I definitely think it will grow more, and hopefully to the point where brands take us seriously.
Do you think that’s not the case at the moment?
I don’t think it is. The thing about blogging is that its a relatively new thing in the South African context so brands don’t have a blueprint to fall back on. So I, and my generation are going to be the blueprint for what the industry could be in the next ten years. Brands will go back and say, “let’s see what the Aisha Bakers have done and the Trevor Stuurmans have done”. I hope it continues to grow and it’s not just a fad. I’m not sure where it’s going though because I don’t think its respected enough by consumers and they have very strong opinions of what we do, and brands obviously have to please consumers – it’s very tricky.
You mentioned Aisha and Trevor, but who else within the industry do you admire? and second, who are the brands you are most excited to work with?
My local inspiration would be the Aisha Bakers and the Talya Goldbergs – the Cape Town girls. When I was first starting out they were the two people who really inspired me. I saw them from a distance and thought, wow, I really want to be like those girls. Right now, it’s quite difficult to say. It’s not there isn’t anyone doing great work, it’s just not the work I want to be doing.
In terms of brands, it’s a little more difficult. I’ve worked with Mercedes, but I definitely want to work with them again. I’d love to work with SA Tourism as well. Being in the space that I’m in right now it would be a great fit and I’d be doing something for South Africa. Out of the brands that I’ve worked with my favourite would be Levis. They are such an authentic brand and when we worked together it just went really well.
Oh, Puma, I’d love to work with them. I get a lot of their product drops, but it would be great to build a closer working relationship. What people don’t realise is that getting product every week also means we, as bloggers, have to create new content every week. It would make a huge difference to work more closely with the team and get inspiration from every line that releases.
How do you unwind?
How do I unwind? I actually haven’t in a while, but if I had to describe my ideal scenario I would probably take you back to December when I was relaxing with cousins on my balcony and having cocktails or going to a braai. Failing that, sleep. Basically just take a few days to get off social media – no photos, no Instastories, just a few days of sleep and Netflix.
Where do you see yourself and the blog in the next couple of years?
I definitely want to continue blogging. I know a lot of bloggers eventually stop, but it’s my outlet and I need it to express myself. You know there’s this trend of Instagramers over bloggers and even if people stopped reading what I put out I’d still be writing. It’s important for me to get the stories out and share my experiences. I’ll definitely still be blogging in the next five years but I definitely will never be someone who has writers. It’s just not authentic or genuine for me, but it would be nice for me to have a team that could help me generate content and put together shoots and campaigns.
I also want to position myself as more of a travel blogger than a fashion blogger. I also want to get into TV presenting. I know that’s tough while maintaining the blog but someway somehow I know I can make it happen.