Manchester-based fashion blogger, Onyi Moss, moved from Nigeria to the UK to study for a degree in accounting. Now, with over 93,000 Instagram followers, she creates daily content and works full-time as a content-creator alongside her husband, Craig. It is a combination of Onyi’s creative and business skills that have made her so successful online.
Onyi has always been interested in fashion and photography and remembers watching America’s Next Top Model as a child. “Tyra Banks wasn’t just one of the judges, I remember she used to take the pictures as well and I was amazed by that, that she could take pictures the way she did because they came out looking really great.”
Despite this, growing up this was not a path she felt she could follow. “I’ve always been creative but growing up I didn’t have an opportunity to study something creative because it’s not very realistic back home in Nigeria, so I focussed on accounting, which was sure to get me a job.”
However, whilst at university, Onyi maintained and grew her sense of personal style, always dressing up for university, with people in lectures asking if she had somewhere to be afterwards. “‘No, I’ve just come for the lecture,” she would reply. After graduating, she bought her first camera whilst unemployed and searching for a job, and from then began to hone in on the skills that have made her Instagram, blog and now YouTube channel so successful.
Onyi practiced photography on a daily basis and used YouTube videos to improve her editing skills. “Eventually people started asking me questions about photography. I knew I was improving but I didn’t know I was good enough to give advice on it but the more I did, the more I got better and eventually I was getting booked by brands.” Now, Onyi’s husband, Craig, helps her take her photos, but at the beginning, it was just her, a tripod and a self-timer.
Despite completing a degree in accounting out of necessity rather than passion, Onyi says that she does not regret it, as it has given her the skills to turn her blog and Instagram into a business. Her success as a content-creator not only meant that she could quit her job, but her husband could too. I asked her how she balances working with a loved one and her answer was as pragmatic as many of her other approaches to her business are: “We’ve found a way to make it work. We’re two people who are individuals of our own, even though we work together.”
In speaking to Onyi, it’s easy to see why her business model is so successful; she’s passionate about photography and is extremely skilled too, thanks to her hard work, she has a strong sense of personal style and a business-minded way of thinking. I asked her whether her recent decision to start a YouTube channel was a creative decision or purely a business move, as YouTube is arguably one of the fastest-growing social platforms for influencers. “One of the reasons I did it was to push myself because I don’t feel very comfortable speaking in front of the camera, believe it or not, but [it has helped me] build up my confidence I’d say. So it’s more about a personal development as opposed to trying to grow on YouTube, it’s more for me to harbour my own personal skills.”
Onyi’s style is very distinctive and fits in with the creative style of her blog, Instagram, and YouTube. She summarised her style as classic, timeless and bold, and explained how this timelessness ensures she promotes sustainability within fashion. “For me, it’s more styling what I already have so I don’t tend to encourage people to go and buy things.” It’s refreshing to hear an influencer so candidly dismiss trends and popular fashion brands in favour of what she likes and believes in, especially as the fashion industry’s reputation becomes worse and worse when it comes to sustainability.
As a content-creator, Onyi’s career achievements have been impressive and she mentions winning the Cosmopolitan Fashion Influencer Award this summer and being invited to 10 Downing Street as part of a celebration of those who are excelling in the industry for Black History Month 2019.
Finally, I asked Onyi for advice for those who are interested in becoming content-creators. “My advice would be to focus on improving your skills, everything else will come,” she answered, “if social media were to go away to go, at least you have skills that you can adapt into a new working environment.” Once again, Onyi’s dedication to improving herself and her content became clear, even in an industry that is often obsessed with numbers and followers.
Onyi Moss will be speaking at an event hosted by the University of Manchester on the 20th November called She’s The Business, providing insight on how she managed to grow her business. Tickets are free and are available for registration now on EventBrite.