Joy Kendi is a lifestyle blogger, vlogger and content creator who covers everything from fashion, beauty, and travel.
She has built her creative career from the ground up, constantly teaching herself along the way to allow for continuous growth in her profession.
Joy is a SLAYboss and runs things on her own terms earning her global recognition and her story below tells us that this journey is only the beginning of far greater things to come.
When did you first get into blogging?
I’ve always been interested in fashion, ever since I was a young girl. I wanted to get into design after high school but most of the schools I applied to didn’t offer scholarships and I don’t come from a wealthy family so I had to scrap that idea.
I took up styling right after college for about six months and I hated it. So I quit that and the blogging bug hit me.
Back then, when blogging was still quite relevant and at the time it was just a hobby, I had been following a few blogs. Never thought I could make money off of it, until about a year later when Nancie Mwai (popular blogger in Kenya) got the opportunity to go to Germany because of her blog and my entire mindset on it changed.
Then I decided to focus on it more and figure out how to make it more of a business. I knew nothing at the time but I just hit the ground running, going to different offices, telling them about me and what I can offer them.
That’s really how I learned most of the stuff I know now, through trying and getting rejected.
Weirdly enough, everything didn’t change until I shaved my head and I’m not sure why but going bald was the first step in getting people to see me as a different person and not just a regular blogger.
I realized that fashion is very limiting, especially in Kenya, so I started to expand more into beauty. Then tried travel and food and all that turned into a lifestyle direction for me.
Less than two years ago, lifestyle blogging opened a lot of doors for me because it meant I could do anything – be it advertising phones, makeup, hotels, restaurants, airlines, even countries!
What three things do you consider while creating content and/or partnering up with a brand?
My biggest thing to consider when I’m partnering up with a brand is to answer the question – do I or will I actually use the said product? If I do use it, does it go with my brand? And third, will this propel me in a positive or a negative direction?
When it comes to content creation, I think about:
1. How much work is it and how much time will it take on my end because that’s how I figure out my rate.
2. What have other content creators within the continent done in regards to the product that I need to create content for?
3. Is there a possibility of collaboration with others? If I know a friend or fellow blogger who can do it too, I will always try to bring them in and we both benefit from the job.
Was this your career of choice? What would you be if you hadn’t gone the blogging route?
If I wasn’t doing this I’d probably still be working in TV/film production. When I was still in school, I was interning at a local TV network, KTN and I was also working in a production company, behind the scenes doing things like writing scripts.
I got burnt out for a while though, which is why I eventually quit at the beginning of this year and solely focused on content creation.
You take 90% of your images, manages your blog and brand on your own. Is there a particular reason why you chose to be a one-woman team?
Well when I first started out, my boyfriend would take my pictures. Due to our different schedules though, I realized I needed to learn how to do this on my own.
When starting out you don’t usually have a flowing income to be able to pay photographers so they would usually do it as a favor to build their portfolio as you build yours.
If they get a paying gig, they will pick that over you thus leaving you stranded once again, so getting a photographer wasn’t an option for me.
I went to the University of YouTube and watched how other people would do things like editing, photo shoots, what cameras to use, what kind of specs to look for and with that information, I slowly started to invest in myself.
I saved any money I got to buy my own equipment i.e. camera and lighting equipment, a laptop, computer programmes etc.
It is important that I have a say in what I do, and have control over what goes on with my work such as the editing process.
Before now, I used to have a manager who was actually very nice but sometimes we’d bump heads over things like working with certain companies so these among other reasons is why I decided it’s better to learn and do everything myself.
It’s a very stressful job I can’t lie – I write all my own proposals, attend all the meetings, create the content, send to the client, wait for approval, do my own accounts… It’s so much work but it’s how I prefer to work and also means I don’t have to pay anyone else.
What challenges have you faced as a blogger so far?
Getting paid is the biggest challenge and there’s a lot of corruption especially in regards to big global companies that hire agencies here to handle their brand. A budget usually set aside for influencers such as myself is misused by the agency and we end up getting short-changed.
Another challenge is getting burnt out. I kinda got burnt out with blogging, I got bored and couldn’t see more ways to make talking about outfits exciting again. That’s why I got into YouTube, which is so fresh and so much fun. Getting burnt out helped me expand and open up new opportunities, which I never thought I could do before.
One last challenge I will add is learning how to say no. I usually have a list of companies that I would like to work with and if a similar company approaches me that isn’t on my list, I will say no to them, with the belief that the company I really want to work for will come knocking one day.
It’s hard because that is essentially saying no to a paycheck, but I have a belief in my brand and how big it can grow and I think the companies I have written down, will be key in helping my brand grow.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
The Hidesign campaign I just wrapped up in India. My face is in ELLE magazine, in an entire two-page spread!
The HiDesign people linked up with me online because they were planning on opening up a couple of stores in Nairobi. They liked my style so they wanted to meet me.
The head of the company explained how he started the company, his inspiration being how great colored skin complements leather. I was so inspired by his story and his vision, I decided to take a picture with the bag gifted to me by the company, just to say thank you while using his inspiration as my inspiration.
The picture that I posted is what got me the job as the face of Hidesign bags, just like that. Most of the jobs that I’ve gotten came about by chance, mostly because of the passion I have for what I do.
My next goal is Vogue, I’m putting it out into the universe!
Do you think vlogging is the new blogging? Do you think blogging will still hold relevance in the future?
People are not interested in reading blogs anymore, they’d rather just use 5 minutes, look at what you did over the weekend and move on.
Vlogging also gives your audience a different view of you. Blogging isn’t what it used to be. It’s hard to tell whether it’s ever going to come back to what it was.
Things are moving fast and people want to consume as much information as they can in a very short time.
How would you encourage young women who want to build a brand using social media?
I can’t really tell you how to do it because a lot of things have changed and getting things like followers now isn’t as easy as it used to be.
I would say figure out your brand first if your content is good, companies will be willing to work with you. Figure out your demographic, what stories you are trying to tell because not everything works for everyone, that helps a lot with your direction.
You need to be very patient, it gets hard, especially when just starting out but you have to put yourself out there. Don’t assume that everyone knows you exist, you have to make yourself known.
Who are your top three favorite fashion bloggers and YouTubers?
YouTubers: Casey Neistat, Philip DeFranco, Jenna Marbles
Fashion Bloggers: Karla Dera, Song of Style and Fashion bomb daily
What is your life mantra?
‘Work hard now, so you can relax later’. Your 20s are not for chilling, work yourself to the core now, where soon enough your name will make money on its own.
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