Juanita Abrahams: Set yourself apart & stay true to yourself

juanita abrahams

Blogging has taken the world by storm, whether it’s done as a hobby or as a job, some are creating careers out of it! When fashion bloggers first hit our screens on E! Entertainment, it gave some of us a little insight  into what fashion bloggers actually do. We now know a bit of how they work with various clients and create an income through doing something they love.

So, still on my quest to explore various fashion-related careers, I got chatting with Juanita Abrahams, the Creative Director of Juan Leo. Juanita is a BCom Accounting student, who is currently completing her under grad, in pursuit of the esteemed CA (SA) designation. She is also a SAICA articled clerk and trainee accountant.

Please tell us a little more about yourself

I am also a SAICA articled clerk and trainee accountant, currently completing my third year of articles in pursuit of the esteemed CA (SA) designation.

From an early age, my hobbies included; design, art, photography and dance —and I dabbled in all of these for many years and often still do.

So let’s fast-forward to 2016, where that interest in design, art and photography has fully formed into what we know as Juan Leo Lifestyle, your blog, please tell us a little more about it

I’ve always loved fashion and design, and became quite involved in creative arts from an early age so the next befitting step after being exposed to so many opportunities within the industry and similar industries was to start a blog, which looked much easier at first.

We started out as “Faith, Fashion & Living Fabulously” which encompassed everything I believed in and loved. But my real goal was to build a different type of fashion community —one which isn’t focused solely on looking or feeling good, but one that focuses on others as well.

And naturally, the brand progressed and we underwent some rebranding of sorts and landed up as Juan Leo Lifestyle. It hasn’t lost the meaning or purpose of the brand —focusing on faith and fashion with a greater purpose. It basically refers to not competing, but offering something more to the world and distinguishing ourselves from everyone else.

I must say, that’s rather unique, combining fashion and faith, so how do you marry the two?

Through networking and building relationships with businesses, companies and local entrepreneurs. It’s about ensuring the cycle of giving back never stops.

Although, we do focus on fashion and lifestyle aspects, we retain being a platform for a purpose and our current focus is on being a support to local designers, entrepreneurs and start-up businesses, and not just in Cape Town.

We’ve identified gaps in the market and I think it’s quite obvious that many individuals have the dream and the talent, but lack knowledge in terms of social media and marketing themselves and that’s why they struggle or they become stagnant in the growth of their business. And that’s where we come in.


I think that’s quite important, considering I’ve come across many companies that position themselves as ‘being there for the small businesses’ but when it comes to working with them, they shy away. How do you help small business?

We’ve also recently started Pedro by Juan Leo —a menswear fashion and styling division aimed at the modern man.

I have wanted to branch out for a while and we’ve finally found the perfect team for this. This allows us to reach even more start-up companies and brands, and also impact a greater audience.

So on one end, you’re driving traffic to smaller brands and business, how does the other end work? How does a blogger create income through blogging?

I would say I wouldn’t know because this isn’t our first priority but bloggers do charge per post, or per Instagram photograph posted and this is dependent on your followings. This is by means of sponsored posts primarily.

Many bloggers with a huge influence can be seen being hired for commercials/advertising, campaigns with big retailers and the likes —there’s opportunity everywhere if done right.

I’m sure bloggers get paid for every little thing under the sun that you haven’t even imagined yet —from public appearances to promoting garments at an event and online and everywhere in between and I’m not too sure how I feel about it. I believe you should stand by your brand and quality requires payment.

Juan Leo’s main income would be from;

  • Brand photography
  • Content creation
  • Fashion photography for other bloggers (and it’s my favourite! Passion drives everything)

Would you say that blogging is a viable career choice?

Career? Perhaps. Viable —I’m not sure.

Blogging itself can become a full-time job if you’re prepared to make a few huge sacrifices in the beginning and are also prepared to stand your ground when it comes to payment. Your following and content quality play a huge role in securing work —real work.

I’ve watched many bloggers or creatives evolve and boom straight to the top without realizing it. Once you reach a certain point, managing a full time job and a blog is quite time-consuming and if blogging is your passion, it will eventually pay the bills while you’re having fun and doing what you love.

Would I do it? Yes and no. ‘Yes’, because I love it, and ‘no’, because there’s more to blogging than just looking good and showing off a lifestyle. I’ll blog and do everything else that isn’t shown online —that makes me happy.

Bloggers move through ranks in my opinion (and if no one has noticed). It starts off as a blogger, and evolves into everything from a digital or fashion influencer to a brand ambassador, social media marketers and eventually lands positions on radio or TV.

It’s amazing how the ripple effect just takes over.


With such opportunities that can come from being a blogger, I can imagine that there would be an influx of new bloggers —and with so many, there would surely be some common traits and similarities amoung them. What would you say is popular or trending among blogs today?

I’ll be frank —I don’t like following trends and I rarely keep updated with them.

I’m more about the timeless things and if I so happen to purchase something that’s “trending” —cool, if not, oh well. Blogs have become such a popular thing in their own right that you truly have to differentiate yourself from the crowd while staying true to who you are and what your brand is about.

Everyone is entirely crazy about beauty, contouring (which definitely isn’t one of my things), the same clothes and the same shoe brands and styling them. It’s enjoyable content, but very few have things that stand out.

Of course we’re also all updated with the latest press releases, but I think more people should make it their own. Maybe we should ask “what’s not trending among blogs today” and we will find a better answer.

Well said, I also like the idea of being different and doing standing out, which in the long run, attracts your niche audience and develops your brand’s identity. So with that said, how would you say that bloggers can set themselves apart?

To set yourself apart your brand should;

  • Stay true to who you are and make sure people can relate to your content. I don’t easily share personal moments with friends and family, just because it’s my special time but showing a piece of that side at times makes you appear more “human”, approachable and influences the way other brands view your influencing power.
  • Have a goal, a vision and an aim. You can’t take on every job that comes your way, or work with every brand. Only do what works for you and represents who you are and what you want to portray. It’s not always easy to say no, but sometimes we have to. My team reminds me of this from time to time because when I see opportunity I jump head first.
  • Also, offer something no one else is offering, or offer it in a specific way, for example, don’t just do make up and beauty —do it in a funny way, create your own trends, teach something new that you created instead of copying the trends out there, create your own unique statement garments.
  • Work with brands that people haven’t heard of, and build them up. Someone will notice, somewhere.
  • Think about what sets you apart as an individual and do that. That’s where your career begins.


Where do you see your blog in the next 1-2 years?

Our short term goals —grow our social media and take it to new heights while staying true to our vision. This would not only drive the opportunities for our team/blog but also allow us to expand to help more people.

My big dream is to own a media house of sorts or a boutique —a unique one known for fashion, film, photography, media, writing and design. Everything I love all rolled into one.

We’re also focusing on expanding Pedro by Juan Leo on a greater scale and will soon start designing our own key pieces. Regardless of what we do, I hope that the next two years sees us helping more people than we ever imagined, and being lifestyle changers for the world.

We’ve got quite a few business ideas in the mix, and although I’m dying to share it, let the audience watch this space.

Other South African blogs you can check out, which happen to be some of Juanita’s favourites include;

  1. Fashion Breed by Aqeelah Harron-Ally
  2. Birdline Blog by Nadia Jaftha (my absolute fav!)
  3. Baked the Blog by Aisha Baker
  4. Just Jade Blog by Jade Robertson 
  5. Qaanita Orrie

They all have something different to offer audiences, and although they appear similar they inspire me for different things.

About Kendi Sapepa

Kendibone is a BCom Hons Marketing graduate who resides in Johannesburg, where she is the founder and fabric-sculptor for her clothing brand; Barbara McKenzie. She's a lover of dry-humour and good food, and when she isn't laughing, eating or sewing, she is trying to learn how to whistle.

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