The Blogger Power List - You & I

In a city of never-ending fashion and food trends, it can be hard to figure out the next beauty secrets, DIY tricks to master, or the best lunchtime haunt. And while we’ll never stop perusing the paper, we obviously love a wonderful digital read. And given Hyderabad’s abundance of talented bloggers who’ll tell you exactly what the city is all about, daily inspiration is just a click away. From good no-fuss food to cheap fashion finds, we’ve rounded up seven of the city’s top bloggers to follow for a dose of all things stylish and delicious. Be ready to bookmark.    – Anisha

StyleMeAria by Aria Krishnamurti

Aria says she breathes fashion – and considering her eclectic sense of style and insider knowledge, it’s hard not to believe her. As much as we would like to switch closets with Aria, her style is her own and comes together naturally. File under #StyleGoals.

What’s been the greatest challenge for StyleMeAria in terms of embracing digital and social media?
Embracing any form of social media is a tough task. Understanding the etiquette, the pitfalls, the management of one’s digital footprint are all super important for anyone in this day and age. What makes it challenging is working within the digital and social media worlds. It is an absolute must to remain professional and aware at all times. Even small mistakes leave a big negative impact, and it is difficult to recover from them. One thing that everyone must be conscious of at all times is that digital content is forever. You cannot erase, delete or shred away your mistakes. An unflattering picture, an embarrassing post – they all live on. I would say that this is the biggest challenge for StyleMeAria and anyone else who works and lives in the digital and social space.

If your blog had one mission statement, what would it be?
I truly believe that style is something each and every one of us has the potential to bring out. Through my blog and studio StyleMeAria, I want to enable and empower people to express themselves freely and boldly. Apart from this, I see my blog as an artist sees his canvas. It helps me satisfy my own creative needs.

Is there a negative aspect to becoming famous for documenting your life through a flattering filter?
I blog about designers, trends and style. As such, I have to project the creations and the styles in the best way I can. The photography and the lighting, the fantastic designs, the stylish accessories, all these add up to an uber-glamorous image being posted online. People who meet me for the first time after having seen my pictures online, sometimes feel that I am not the same person! But I suppose that is true for anyone who is in the business of projecting their most flattering self – like actors and models, etc. So I look at this aspect not as negative, but as something that comes with the territory.  

What do you do when you’re not blogging?
Updating myself with current trends and reading about fashion history, conceptualising future projects, curating eclectic ensembles. Right now I’m also studying the art and science of photography. I also enjoy travelling, music and catching up with the latest sitcoms.

Any tip for someone who wants to start his/her own blog?
“Start yesterday” is what I would say to anyone who wants to write a blog. Have a clear mission, not a mishmash of ideas. And then develop a vision for what your blog looks like, says and conveys. There is no end to learning, so don’t waste too much time on thinking and rethinking ideas and concepts. Do what feels right and convey what you’re passionate about. Be clear and confident. That is the best recipe for success.

The Girl At First Avenue by Chandana Munipalle

Love pretty, feminine must-haves and wearable finds equally? So does Chandana Munipalle, who dresses for less without cutting on the quality. Keeping her lifestyle blog super personal and playful, we just love her clean Instafeed.

What was the motivation behind starting The Girl At First Avenue?
To be honest, it happened purely by chance. I started the blog when I was in between jobs and I had some spare time to kill. I continued to blog even while working, as I loved the process of creating content for the blog and soon it inspired me to take it up full time.

Why the name The Girl At First Avenue?
I was pretty sure from the beginning that the blog would reflect all facets of my life and not just fashion. I wanted it to be about all my varied interests and truly reflect my personality. The lane I live in is called ‘First Avenue’ so I named the blog as The Girl At First Avenue. So the blog basically captures my journey through life as I pen down everything that catches my fancy!

How would you define your style?
My style has always been simple, elegant, and wearable.

What is the biggest challenge that you face?
Managing my time efficiently. At the end of each day, I always feel I could have done more!

What brands and designers are you really into now?
Currently, I am into brands and designers that are doing indo-western/fusion, handloom, and handcrafted products.

What’s the favourite item of clothing in your wardrobe?
I love my entire closet. Everything has been carefully picked and curated over the years!

What valuable lessons have you learnt from blogging and building your brand?
Realising the value of my work, learning the art of saying no, and appreciating professionalism because that is so hard to come by.

Are there any trends you are particularly inspired by this season?
I don’t really follow trends.

What would we find in your handbag?
Wallet, sunglasses, charger, compact, lip balm and probably a book.

Which designer do you associate Hyderabad with?
Gaurang Shah.

Seersucker Over Velvet by Ajab Ali Akber

Ajab Ali Akber is the type of fashion blogger who’s been gifted with the talent of blending feminine sensuality with minimal elements and rocking it flawlessly. Plus, with the gorgeous photography and informative runway edits, it didn’t take us long to get hooked on Ajab’s blog.

What’s the story behind your blog’s title?
‘Seersucker Over Velvet’ is a metaphor. It’s a reflection of my style. Seersucker is a laid-back, comfortable fabric whereas velvet is luxurious. I’m the kind of person who would pick seersucker over velvet, and that’s how I came up with the name.

How would you describe your own personal style?
I am a sucker for comfort. I strongly believe that comfort is the key; otherwise you’ll be so distracted with walking straight in your heels that it hampers your self-confidence. But when I have to dress up on a certain day, I’ll go all out.

What are the style rules you always stick to?
I literally have no rules when it comes to fashion. I’ll wear anything. But I have this one mental block which I guess I got from my mother: I avoid wearing synthetic fabrics. I prefer cotton and pure fabric.

You’ve recently attended Lakme Fashion Week, so how does your approach to dressing differ when you are attending the shows?
I attended LFW as their official blogger. With all the running around I had to do, I was perpetually in sneakers and flats. Honestly, I didn’t look at this opportunity as a glamorous one. I wanted to go there, be a birdwatcher and absorb everything about the real deal. But I would be lying if I said that I didn’t dress up. I wore makeup every day and dressed comfortably, which is my style anyway!

What clothing item would you say is timeless?
I get bored easily, so for me, nothing is timeless. But I definitely invest in smart jackets, as they can take any outfit from drab to fab!

What are your must-have beauty products?
A good sunscreen lotion and a lip balm.

What are the best and the toughest aspects of running your own blog?
The hardest part is to be able to come up with something interesting each time and to keep the audience’s attention. The best aspect is the creative independence that I have, and that is my biggest motivation!

JetSetEat by Vishal Fernandes

Vishal Fernandes is a perfect example of the Hyderabad lifestyle. JetSetEat is his outlet for sharing his experiences and adventures in the city. Vishal – a 20-something lead auditor by day, a gluttonous diner by night, and a blogger in between, rarely has a dull moment. And it shows in his wide-ranging posts. Drool.

Why did you decide to start a food blog and what does food mean to you?
I started JetSetEat as a whimsical hobby, a blog dedicated to exploring food, travel, culture and history of all the places I’ve travelled. I believe one should taste a culture to understand it, and thus decided to explore and discover the world one mile at a time. On this blog, you’d find stories of unique places, delicious foods, thrilling destinations and awesome street food. Food to me is the last magic that brings relationships, cultures and communities all on one plate.

What’s been the greatest challenge for JetSetEat in embracing digital media?
Customising content for different platforms has been one of my greatest challenges. Everyone in digital space is competing to catch the user’s attention, so enticing the reader to click on your content is quite difficult. For example, a blog link shared on Facebook needs an attention-grabbing headline, an image that piques interest and a short compelling description. For Instagram and Twitter, appending the content with hashtags is key to making the content more discoverable.

What’s your favourite part of the blogging process?
Syndicating – publishing the content on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other appropriate networks. I already have a set of loyal readers who have subscribed to my feed, but thinking of innovative ways of reaching new audiences through these channels is my favourite part.

If you could pick one food to eat over and over again, what would it be?
My mum’s Goan fish curry over steaming hot rice – a perfect elixir on any given day!

What are your favourite spots in Hyderabad to eat out with friends?
There are so many wonderful restaurants in Hyderabad, and it’s nearly impossible to narrow them down to just a few.

FoodDrifter by Ashis Nayak and Neidhi Kumaar

With a sizeable Facebook following and website fan base, Ashis Kumar Nayak and Neidhi Kumaar, who cover all things we Hyderabadis value the most – food, drinks, and secret getaways – are a force to be reckoned with. Regardless of what city you call home, FoodDrifter is one blog you should follow.

What’s the story behind your blog’s name, FoodDrifter?
Ashis: We met four years ago through a Facebook Foodie Group meet, and realised our common interests for food and travel. Both of us were non-locals and wanted to discover the local food around the city. We started FoodWalks in Hyderabad to showcase that the city has so much more to offer than just biryani.

We had successful FoodWalks and also started doing various food events. It was then we thought about documenting our travels and food experiences, and that’s how the idea of FoodDrifter was conceived. The name brought together our love for two things that we love: food and travel. Drifting to our destination in search of new experiences has been our motto.

What is the best part about being a blogger?
Neidhi: I would say the learning. There’s so much research around food that the journey has been fulfilling so far. We remember searching for the Cà Phê Trứng (egg coffee) in the lanes of Hanoi and drinking the perfect coffee. Our blogging is an extension of our research about local cuisines. We want to promote local food. We have also shared our love of food on FoodMad with Rocky and Mayur, and The Great Indian Rasoi with Chef RanveerBrar, where they covered the Hyderabad food scenes.

Why is travel important to you?
Ashis: Travel for me is a break from monotony. I’ve sat in the backwaters of Kerala and written articles and also in the picturesque, foggy beauty of Halong Bay in Vietnam. With each new destination, I come back not only with memories but also a little bit wiser. There is so much out there to be absorbed, and we haven’t touched even a brink of it. In a few words, travel is exhilarating.
Neidhi: Travel is similar to breathing for me. I can’t stay in one place for too long. I keep researching different cuisines that I want to try, and then book my tickets. I try to manage my work and travel, but I need to travel every chance I get. I have travelled to more than 25 countries and the cuisine list keeps growing every year.

What’s the most adventurous dish you’ve ever eaten?
Ashis: There have been quite a few. During our backpacking through Vietnam, we met a British traveller who had covered South Vietnam while we had finished the northern end. We sat down to exchange our stories and then challenged each other on trying out snake. Nevertheless, the challenge turned out to be serious, and both of us ended up trying snake for the first time in our life.
Neidhi: I have become adventurous after blogging and travelling with Ashis. I have tried frog, deer and swan, among the few that I remember. This has been quite an adventure in its own way, since the locals who have taken us around were very excited about us trying them.

Where would be the first place in town you’d take your visitors to dine?
Ashis: This is quite a tricky question. Having spent my childhood in South India, I always have loved an authentic South Indian meal. Most visitors usually want to try the Hyderabadi Dum Biryani when in the city. But I prefer taking them down to Simply South. There are a bunch of messes which serve good South Indian food too, but when it comes to a first experience for others, I usually don’t take risks. The thali at Simply South has been my absolute favourite in the city, and an order of a side non-veg dish and I’m set for the day. Fingers crossed that till now whoever has been to Simply South have ended up having a great experience.

Neidhi: I love taking visitors to Charminar area. Start with Hotel Nayaab where they can eat keema, nihari, gurda and then head to my all-time favourite Govind Bandi for the delicious buttery dosa. There’re so much history and stories to tell along that stretch, and finally end up with Irani Chai and Osmania biscuit at Nimrah while posing against the background of Charminar.

I Dress for The Applause by Naznin Suhaer

Naznin Suhaer is one of fashion’s latest darlings – the girl everyone wants to dress like. The city-based creative director and full-time fashion blogger is among a new crop of influencers who have successfully mixed flare and uniqueness in their work.

Why did you initially decide to start a blog?
Blogging gives me a sense of satisfaction and freedom to create and express what I want without having to follow a set of rules. I always wanted to have space where I could maintain a visual diary to document my personal style and everything I love about fashion. I Dress for the Applause started with an idea to share my creative ideas while collaborating with like-minded people. And it feels great to see the blog turn into a website and a full-fledged career for me.  

Where do you find the inspiration for your posts?
Art, architecture, cultures, and music inspire me a lot. Fashion magazines and the internet are a huge inspiration, too. I love watching fashion videos and reading fashion articles all the time.

In one tweet - what is your personal style?
Edgy, laid-back, and feminine with a hint of grunge. I’m quite fond of vintage fashion and love menswear inspired pieces too.

Does being on the front of establishment magazines still matter in the age of digital or social fame?
I think print can never lose its charm no matter how digitally the world evolves. In my opinion, nothing can replace the feel of a real magazine. I still prefer them over digital alternatives.

Do you have any fashion rules when putting an outfit together?
I follow no rules as such. I just go with the mood and the weather. However, I pay attention to fit and proportions. Also, I always throw in some black, intentionally or not.

What are your personal favourite blogs? Why?
I have a lot of favourites. To name a few, I love Shine By Three, The Petticoat and Man Repeller. I also like The Chriselle Factor. I think these girls are super creative, and I love the fact that they put a lot of thought into what they do and produce meaningful content.

What beauty product can you not live without?
I can’t do without a moisturiser. I’m also a big fan of facial oils.

What do you splurge on?
I think over time I’ve become more of a saver than a splurger. I put a lot of thought into what I’m buying and I believe in sustainability. However, I splurged quite a bit on shoes a few months ago, which I’m not guilty about.

What trend from the past would you like to make a comeback?
I usually don’t wait for trends to kick in to wear something. However, I really liked the romantic ruffles that made a comeback earlier this year.   

That Delhi Girl by Pallavi Ruhail

One of the very first city-based bloggers to rise to prominence, Pallavi Ruhail’s blog offers her insider style, beauty finds, travel and sartorial tips. Since launching That Delhi Girl three years ago, Pallavi’s quirky twist has won her a large audience across social media. Disclaimer: her website will give you holiday envy!

Is there a pressure to follow the norm to look fabulous all the time?
I don’t think so. The idea of a blog or being a blogger is to stay you – the real you. Because that’s what people want – someone they can connect to. So if you’re the kind of person who likes to dress up, please do. And if you’re someone who’s easy about these things, then stay like that!

So how do you maintain longevity in your career?
By staying relevant, offering fresh content and maintaining a frequent flow of blogposts.

What is your shopping philosophy?
I know what works for me, so I shop accordingly.

The worst fashion faux pas according to you?
A bad fit is a big no.

What’s your next fashion must have?
I am actually eyeing a pair of New Balance sneakers.

What do you think are some of the reasons for your success?
I think mostly because I don’t put much thought into having to be successful as a priority. I work and give it my best. So instead of chasing the idea of success, I rather chase the idea of putting out good work, and I guess success follows.

What are your five top tips for embracing your individual style?

  • Know your body type.
  • Always have one or two of go-to styles which you know you can never go wrong with. It could be anything like a white shirt with a pair of denim jeans or a dress.
  • Don’t wear something you aren’t comfortable wearing; you won’t be confident about the outfit, and it will eventually show.
    Don’t just follow trends blindly; know what works for you and what doesn’t.
  • Always invest in classic pieces, whether clothes or accessories.