The internet can be a pretty wonderful place. The friendships I’ve made through apps like Instagram and right here on WordPress, are proof of that.
I first met Miah, not in person, but online. After leaving a comment on a post she’d written, that really resonated with me about moving between countries, Miah got in touch through Instagram and the rest, as they say, is history. I didn’t think it was possible to connect with someone I’d never met before in person, so much. She has undoubtedly become one of my most treasured friends.
Miah runs her own lifestyle blog focused on green (sustainable) living, and travel. She’s also the creator of Cappuccino Magazine, a platform for young creatives to express themselves through art. A South African native living in the Netherlands, Miah is an avid traveler as well and shares her experiences with her followers.
I’ve been looking forward to sharing this interview for quite some time now, hope you enjoy! 🦋
How did you first get into blogging?
I started blogging at thirteen. During this period, Tumblr, Pinterest and WeHeartIt were major sources of inspiration for me. I would always see the different things that people were creating and I began to question how I could create something too. I knew that I adored writing, but I also wanted to make whatever I created a visual platform. Problem was, I wasn’t very good at photography, nor did I have the money to buy a quality camera. My friends would help me out and we’d use what we had; makeshift tripods using phones propped against books, asking photographers at school events to take pictures of me so I’d have good quality photos to post and something to write about etc. I would religiously use WordPress to draft post ideas or short stories for my then beauty and lifestyle blog. I experimented with different aesthetics, posts and content ideas. It’s safe to say I’ve gone through many phases since I first started blogging at thirteen, and I had to keep experimenting to find out what I loved.
What do you love most about writing and blogging?
I enjoy that writing can be a way of expression, and that there are a variety of mediums to do it in. Poetry, short stories, essays, novels and word art are just some of them. Writing was always an outlet and blogging became a way to express that on a much larger scale. What I love most about blogging is the constant hunger to create an engaging post, how I’ve met so many wonderful people and how some posts really make me think. It’s an incredibly social platform but it’s so personal at the same time.
What led you to adopting a more sustainable lifestyle? What are some challenges
that have come with it and how have you overcome them?
I had always been conscious about sustainability but growing up, it was more about saving money than it was about being eco-friendly. Things like, ‘turn the lights off when you leave the room’ or ‘don’t leave the tap running’ have been drilled into my head since I was a child. It wasn’t until I found myself on a conservation trip in Costa Rica on my 18th birthday. The people there were so cautious of all that they did; took short showers, recycled everything, repaired and upcycled items, bought only what they needed, picked up litter and dished consciously. Being in an environment where people respected nature and constantly thanked our beautiful planet for what it provided us made me realize I had the power to do so much. I knew that when I left, I had to take this knowledge with me and apply as much as I could to my life in the Netherlands.
What would your 3 dream brand collaborations be and why?
This should be an easy question to answer but it isn’t. Simply because when I first started out, I could easily tell you Too Faced or even Vogue. Now, it’s about smaller and local companies and other content creators whose values align with mine. For example, I’d love to partner with Faithful To Nature and collaborate with other bloggers, such as Kristen Leo and Tamika Arnold. Their values, approach to the planet and the mind are in sync with mine. I learn from their actions and am inspired by them to do better.
Who do you love following on Instagram?
I am currently loving pastel hues and all things pink and ‘girly’. For this I enjoy following
Freddy Cousin Brown, Parisian Chique, Gabriella DeMartino and Nitsan Raiter. I enjoy content by Tamika Arnold and Florence Given for content related to goal-setting and wellbeing, Claire Michelle and Kristen Leo for wellbeing and sustainability related posts. Florence Given, The Brown Box and Hitomi Mochizuki are wonderful to view as their accounts have taught me about self-acceptance, how to evolve as a being and become the version of myself I want to be.
How do you deal with/avoid comparing yourself to other content creators?
I only follow people who inspire me and who contribute to my mental health. Social media can be so easy to manipulate and as long as you stay authentic on it, I think you’ll have a healthy relationship. When I first joined Instagram, I had a negative relationship with it because it was about glamour, celebrities and all of these beautiful, skinny models who were mostly white and blonde too. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with it, but when you feel like you can’t relate to some things, you may feel left out and as if it may not be the thing for you. I decided to unfollow accounts who weren’t inspiring me and who made me feel like I needed to look a certain way.
Online validation from strangers is not what I’m on Instagram for. I decided to create the space I wanted to see and I’m so glad I did that, as it greatly improved my perspective on social media.
How many countries have you visited so far? Which countries have been your
favourite to visit and why? What has travelling taught you?
I’ve visited 27 countries so far and I’m so grateful to be able to say that. Traveling has taught me so much about myself as a person. It helped me gain independence, become secure in my being and helped me professionally as I learned how to communicate with people from different cultures.
The countries which I love the most are Costa Rica, Indonesia and France. Indonesia was so beautiful and I loved exploring the rice fields, conversing with locals and making so many memories there with my family. France is a country I hold very dear to my heart; it doesn’t look nearly as glamorous as the brochures make it out to be, but it’s got its own magic for sure. Costa Rica is my favourite place in the world. When I arrived, I had never felt so at home. The country made me want to become a better version of myself and help anyone who needed it. I started teaching myself local recipes, learning basic Spanish and taking care of the environment more. No other country in the world, not even home, has made me feel so alive.
What is living in the Netherlands like compared to living in South Africa?
My quality of life is exactly the same as it was in Cape Town, but safety was the biggest adjustment. I had to get used to not having burglar bars, for example. People think life in the Netherlands is better because it’s a first world country and this isn’t necessarily true. The Netherlands definitely has better, if not more, career opportunities than back home. The crime rates are also lower because people obey the law here. No matter how late I stay out, I know I’ll be safe on my way back to my apartment. That’s not a guarantee in South Africa.
However, South Africa is a community. Here in the Netherlands, everyone is for themselves unless they’re part of a community, such as a sports club or an organization. In South Africa, we have so much beautiful time. In the Netherlands, our lives are being controlled by a clock. South Africa is incredible, but it is poorly managed and crime is rife. I love my home country but I am also going to take the opportunities I have been presented with. It would be ridiculous not to. I do believe we are progressing as a country and starting to hold people, especially politicians, accountable for their actions, or lack thereof. I’m proud of my country and I’m glad to be seeing how Ramaphosa is stepping up as a leader and handling the coronavirus situation. It shows that we are capable of creating the change we want and that’s the South Africa I want to live in. However, it has also never been clearer to see that our politicians are obsessed with filling their pockets with money and choose this instead of siding with the people they were elected to take care of – unless it impacts them.
Dream travel destinations?
I would like to visit more African countries such as Kenya, Egypt and Ethiopia. Morocco has also been on my bucket list. I think Hawaii is somewhere I’d love to explore, too.
Which publications would you love to write for one day, and which ones have you
written for already that have been your faves?
In terms of creating content, I’d really enjoy doing something for Ideas Magazine. Writing for a South African publication is something I’ve always wanted to do since most of my work is Europe-based but I’d really enjoy creating something back home, too. Oprah Winfrey’s magazine, O, is another magazine I’d enjoy writing for. Most of the ‘publications’ I’ve written for are other blogs, online newspapers and my university’s platform, DIGGIT. These are not necessarily my favourite but I do enjoy the process of learning how to format, edit and tell a story.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Graduated from my Masters, employed and moved into my first own apartment. These are three goals I’m currently working on and I really want to achieve them!
How has blogging changed your life and what have been your favourite
opportunities that have come as a result of your blog?
I’ve definitely learned many new skills; basic graphic design, how to analyze data, how to work with SEO related stuff. Blogging has taught me more patience, how to work with other people and also how to think out of the box when planning content. One of my favourite blogging opportunities has been partnering with Dutch brands, being invited to Paris Fashion Week and making friends in the blogging industry. I feel very grateful to be part of such a warm community that constantly aims to inspire and create.
Any advice for aspiring bloggers/content creators on how to get their work out
Having a clear niche is always a good thing as you’re making your target audience clear, too. When I browse blogs or Instagram accounts, I always look at the bio, the profile picture and the feed. These are all things that tell me about you and what kind of content you create so I personally find that an important aspect to manage. Networking with other bloggers, engaging in your friends posts and having polls in your Instagram stories is an easy way to increase your engagement.
Something many people forget is that their blogs are not always about them – people also follow because they’re looking for tips, news about you or things to do. This is good to keep in mind as it’s easy content to create, so make sure you provide value. This can be simple through motivational posts, or Instagram story templates for example. As long as you are authentic, I’d say you’re doing an amazing job already.