In this month’s Meet The Blogger interview I catch up with the Malaysian born, New Zealand based blogger Aki from The Sleek Avenue. We chat about her life as a PR and Advertising creative, her incredible style and designer wardrobe, and standing out in a saturated blogger crowd. Plus she shares her top tips on how to practically buy luxury pieces!
Name: Aki Based: Auckland, New Zealand
Hi Aki, thanks for joining us for a Meet The Blogger chat! Tell us when you started your blog and why?
Thank you for having me Jude! I was a Fashion Art Director for a couple of years and I was lucky enough to have exposure to some amazing international fashion ad campaign opportunities. Moving to New Zealand, I really missed the hustle and bustle in fashion, as I work with corporate clients. One day I thought, why don’t I keep developing my skills in fashion so in March 2016 The Sleek Avenue was founded. After all, why do ‘LinkedIn’ when we can ‘Instagram’!
You work and blog part-time right? How do you balance it all?! Do you bring your advertising and PR professional skills to blogging?
I work as a hybrid Art Director, Designer and Photographer for an Advertising and PR agency in Auckland and for me, The Sleek Avenue simply feels like an extension of my job as I do the same scope of work for different clients.
Burning the midnight oil is the norm for me as I collaborate with clients in different time zones. So finding the balance is very important. Sometimes people feel that saying “no” to opportunities is a bad thing for a newbie blogger but I feel that it’s even more important to know what is manageable instead of over-promising then missing the deadlines.
What are your tips for new bloggers on standing out from the crowd?
I remember Ash from @missgunner said this on your first Meet The Blogger chat and I strongly agree on this point: find your point of difference. My 2018 add-on will be: find your point of difference and stick to it!
You are an amazing example of this Jude, your theme is about blue garments and other things that compliment them and you have a very distinctive ‘Meet The Blogger‘ chat. The best thing is the consistency that you have in developing the two brand identities and that’s what makes you stand out from the crowd.
Signature style / blogger identity comes from a unique idea and persistence. Nothing happens overnight.
Aki you have incredible style and clearly love your designer clothes and accessories! Where do you get your fashion inspiration?
Aww thank you! My style is an aftermath of runway creations plus experimentation. I follow all the Instagram accounts of my favourite international designers and I love finding different ways to style their pieces compared to the runway.
What are your shopping tips for buying luxury, designer pieces?
I feel that the luxury market has changed in recent years: most new consumers belong to the middle class and younger consumer group – the Millennials and Gen-Zs. Unlike the current luxury consumer demographic that has higher spending power, Millennials are all about finding a better way to spend. I’ve written an article about it on my blog with some tips based on years of luxury acquisition: How To Buy Luxury Products Practically
What are the three wardrobe essentials you can’t live without?
Cool blazers, cool sunnies and cool bags.
Recently there’s been growing demand on social media for more candid here-and-now fashion. As someone who clearly takes time and effort to create beautiful imagery for your blog and social media accounts, how do you balance follower demands with your own needs?
As the blog is an extension of my profession it’s crucial for me to stick to my brand identity and what works for me. It’s more like my Art Director and Photography portfolio. Some of my followers are my clients and I can’t afford to sacrifice quality and consistency for trends. Take videography as an example, as it has been increasing in demand as well. If I can’t do it well and it doesn’t benefit the art direction, it’s a no-go. However, if there’s an opportunity where the here-and-now execution works well for the feed and brand alignment, I will definitely have one up!
Of all the brands you’ve worked with what’s your favourite collaboration? Who would you love to work with in future?
I had a collaboration with Farfetch where I needed to photograph an outfit in front of a circus – it was so much fun! I wore batman glasses from Gucci and there were statues everywhere. I looked like I just belonged there. My favourite photo was with a lion statue!
At this early stage of my blog any opportunities coming my way are true blessings. I have no idea what I have done to deserve them and I’m beyond grateful! I don’t have a preference on who I would love to work with at the moment. I don’t dream, I just keep working hard and see what the future holds.
You feature amazing editorial photography on your blog and Instagram! Who takes your photos? What are your tips for taking a great shot?
Thank you, glad you like them! Sometimes I self-shoot using my tripod; sometimes I’ll set up my camera and pass it to my partner, colleagues, my future mother-in-law or anyone who can take instructions well! You can tell that I’m a control-freak haha!!
For me, a great photo does not come from when the shutter is hit. It lies with the planning towards getting the perfect shot. I always plan my outfit and location wisely. Why am I wearing this outfit? Why am I shooting this outfit at this place? What is the message I am trying to convey? A good picture tells a story.
What are your must-have beauty products?
I can’t live without moisturiser, masks and sunscreen, especially with the long hours and travelling I do for work.
Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I started my blog with a more feminine look – I had long wavy hair and nearly all my outfits were bandage dresses, simply because everyone around me convinced me that look would be well received because I have a nice body shape. I ended up feeling miserable. I put everything aside and started photographing what works for me, and here I am today, happy and proud. Moral of the story: be yourself.
What can we expect from you and your blog in 2018?
More weird, non blogger-like photographs and more writing! I have been really enjoying sharing my thoughts on luxury trends and the changes/evolution in fashion on my website thesleekavenue.com. So see you on the other side!