By Latoya Burris
Edited by: Ellice Peck
Photography: Matelli Graves
Not too long ago I stumbled upon an online fashion and lifestyle blog curated and run by two amazing twins, Nasteha and Nuni Yusuf. Nasteha and Nuni are Somali Muslim women, both refugees due to a civil war in Africa. These ladies are courageous and bring a fresh perspective with their outlook on what they call “Modest Fashion.” Launched in 2017, the Yusuf sisters’ brand has amassed an Instagram following of 14.8K users because these two ladies have managed to produce a blog that is every bit as sleek and refined as the latest issue of Vogue magazine. Get to know these sisters, this is a global experience that you don’t want to miss.
When was The Yusufs site launched and what was the inspiration behind starting your blog?
Theyusufs.com was launched January 2017. We’ve always loved fashion and as sisters who come from a huge family, we always felt like that was what we connected on the most. As we grew up and life took us in different directions, we found that fashion was what brought us back together. Since we were living in 2 different countries, we wanted to create a platform where we can chronicle our love for fashion and lifestyle and share some of our favorite looks.
Where are you guys currently located?
Nasteha lives in Columbus, Ohio, and Nuni lives in Toronto, Canada, but we are often in both cities due to family and business.
With so much talk about diversity in fashion, tech and the creative industry, do you think your Somali roots have allowed you to offer a different perspective on fashion and lifestyle?
Absolutely. Our rich culture definitely helps more than it hurts. Not to mention, we grew up in a very multicultural city (Toronto) so we were exposed to many different cultures and lifestyles at a young age. Having an understanding of so many different cultures has definitely played a big part in helping us stand out.
What advice would you give future bloggers on creating a profitable fashion and lifestyle brand?
Just like any other business or path you take in life, you get what you put in. If we’re speaking about profitability, you will have to invest a lot of your time, money and energy. There is a lot of hard work that goes into maintaining a profitable blog, and if you want to operate one that you feel is meeting your financial goals, you have to approach it like a full-time job.
In such a saturated fashion blogging community, how have you guys been able to differentiate yourselves from other bloggers?
As in any other market, we feel like there is always room for newcomers. It just depends on what you’re bringing to the table. For example, we come from a population of women that haven’t exactly had a representation in any market in the past. We are Somali Muslim women who left Africa due to a civil war. We grew up in Canada and we now live between Canada and the US. Because of our background, we feel that we have a unique perspective not just on our fashion, but also on life in general. With everything that has been going on in the world, we also feel there are a lot of other women who relate to us. Women with similar backgrounds, who have had the same challenges and successes when it comes to fashion and lifestyle.
How have you leveraged social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram to empower and spread brand awareness? Do you think your following would have been possible without these platforms?
Well, we’re pretty new on YouTube. In fact, we just started two months ago. As with anything new, we have a lot to learn about YouTube, but so far it’s going well.
As for the rest of our social media, we definitely wouldn’t have had any following without these platforms. Social media is the way of the world now. And before we became social influencers/business owners, we were a part of a huge population of consumers that loved reading about and watching other people’s reviews and experiences with products and services. So we know first hand the level of information exchange that can be achieved by utilizing social media.
Quality vs. Quantity. I often find that this is frequently debated amongst influencer brands. Do you think quality (meaning the type of content you put out) should always be exceptional? Or do you prefer to have a lot of content circulating no matter the quality?
This is something we struggled with in the beginning, to be honest. We see a lot of other influencers who post 2 to 3 times a day and have far more blog posts than we create. But we found that focusing on quality content versus quantity is what works best for us. Not to knock anyone’s way of running their business, but we love posting about things we truly love. We’ve built somewhat of a trust with our followers and we want to remain honest and engaged with them and not post pictures just to post pictures, if you know what I mean.
Is there anything else you would like to bring to the fashion world that doesn’t exist or if it does, how would you make it better?
We really love that the fashion world is embracing modest fashion. More specifically, we love that beautiful Muslim women with the hijab are finally being included in the world of fashion. We would love to see more brands embracing modest fashion.
What are some of your favorite resources for generating your content?
We have to give a huge shout-out to our photographer. He is so talented and we have such an amazing collaborative atmosphere where we always benefit from each other. His name is Matelli Graves on Instagram and he is definitely our favorite resource since he is so good at making our visions come to life.
When did you ladies realize that you were running a business, and how did you change the way you operated once you accepted the role of entrepreneurs?
We realized when we started to get emails from brands looking to collaborate with us. Once we learned that these opportunities existed for us, we realized we didn’t just have to wait for brands to come to us and that we could reach out and knock on doors ourselves and create more opportunities for ourselves. We also learned really quickly that hearing the word “NO” is just the first stop in the life of an entrepreneur.
What encouraging words would both of you give to other entrepreneurs seeking to enter the blogging industry?
A lot of people start blogging because they love to create content. But considering most of us start during a time where we are fulfilling other responsibilities in our lives, your passion for sharing through your blog can get put on the back burner. This is never a good thing if you want to ultimately manage a profitable blog. Organization is key. Set goals, plan your posts and actually visualize each task. This way you can hold yourself accountable for actually creating content in a timely manner. The more time you give yourself and the more organized you are, the better you will become and the more proud you will be of the content you are sharing.
Women’s History Month will be celebrated here in the United States during the month of March. Are there any female entrepreneurs that you guys admire? If yes, why do you admire the person(s)?
There are too many to name. But we’ve gotten to know so many amazing women in our blogging community that we feel inspire us every day. Most of these women are running very successful blogs and are working with some of the biggest brands. Some of them have kids and some are still managing a full-time job as well as a blog. We admire them all because it takes a lot to be able to juggle it all.
How do you ladies plan to dominate 2018 and what should we expect to see this year?
The most exciting thing is that we will be adding clothing to our shop site YCOLLECTIONS, so please keep an eye out for that. As for our social media, we are looking forward to rebranding and updating our personal styles. Because life is all about growth and we want to grow with our audience, we will definitely be more present on YouTube and are looking forward to creating more quality content to grow our channel as well. Be sure to subscribe.
Do you find working together and running your business difficult being that you are sisters? How do you balance roles and your professional relationship?
Having established professional careers prior to working with each other, the dynamic has been amazing. We are family, but at the end of the day we are running a business together so we tend to put that before any little sisterly friction that might get in the way. The best thing about working with each other is that we know exactly what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are so it’s a lot easier to just handle what the other person can’t. And when there are disagreements, we both know that it’s coming from a good place and that it is for the betterment of our brand.
Do you think fashion and lifestyle blogging has an expiration date?
Nope! Let’s be honest, women have most, if not all of the purchasing power in their households. As long as that is still happening, fashion and lifestyle blogging will be around.
To learn more about The Yusufs you may visit their site or subscribe to their YouTube channel.