Fashion sense is subjective; everyone has their own taste and preference. That’s why we have fashion icons and influencers, as people relate to their style. Chelsea Wambui is a fast-rising star in fashion, and her story is unique.
She has always loved looking good since she was a little girl. Now, the 20-year-old is a darling for many; her burgeoning fan-base is always looking for the next post she puts up. Chelsea sat down – virtually – with Career Fodder. She gave us an inspiring look into her fashion journey.
“My hobby is putting outfits together and taking pictures, showcasing how I dress. I stand for self-love and body positivity,” she says.
Her style, which is marked by unique street style fits and body positivity vibes is simply adorable. In the conversation, she opened up about her penchant for anything other than high street fashion, why she’s in for the ride for a long time, and how dressing up helped her heal when she was going through a difficult, heartbreaking period. Read on and be inspired!
Career Fodder: So have you always loved fashion or it’s something you discovered along the way?
Chelsea Wambui: I have always loved fashion since I was very, very young. I loved watching fashion shows and wanted to experiment. Specifically, I loved getting dressed up for church ‘cause that’s the only time when I could totally get dressed…Back then I was still young and I wasn’t going out. Notably, I only properly discovered my style when I came to the UK and I was experimenting a bit more…and I had more access to different shops
CF: We recently saw something you posted…more of a timeline of your healing journey so far…how has your hobby helped in the process?
CW: I didn’t become intentional about showcasing my style until the beginning of 2020. I have always posted on Instagram but it was just for fun. Earlier in the year, I was having a really heavy time. I found that the only times I would feel better about myself were when I got dressed, probably put some makeup on and take some pictures.
I would just feel good when I do it. So I started putting my energy into that instead of sitting down and crying all day. Instead of getting anxious and depressed, I just decided to drive my energy into creating content. I was actually able to grow my following.
Fashion abroad vs fashion at home
CF: What’s the biggest difference between the UK and Kenya in terms of fashion freedom? Would you dress the same way here? Also, what’s your take on the topic, entirely?
CW: Oh God…that’s actually a good question! So, there is a huge difference between how I dress in the UK and how I would in Kenya. I wouldn’t dress like that in Kenya. That’s just because there are different values in Kenya. I am patriotic, but I wouldn’t even feel safe dressing this way. Everyone will just be looking at me like, ‘you’re showing too much skin…’ or I’m too out there. If I wear something that’s too expensive I might be a target for someone and get robbed.
I just wouldn’t want to draw too much attention to myself. In the UK, no one cares if you’re showing skin or not. The values are a bit different. The rest of my family is in Kenya and I also feel they would also be uncomfortable with the way I dress. In the UK I’m just with my mum and she is totally OK with the way I dress. She understands why and what it means to me. It’s really unfortunate because I sort of have to tone down my personality when I’m in Kenya because I don’t want to be seen as indecent or attention-seeking.
CF: Interesting 😊 so how do you plan to tackle that when you come back home for good… If that’s what you plan to?
CW: I haven’t thought about it yet because I am not coming back to stay in Kenya anytime soon. I will eventually come back but maybe I will have a totally different style or have evolved into something else.
CF: Wow…speaking about your mum accepting you the way you are…do you feel that African parents, in general, should be lenient when it comes to allowing creative choices?
CW: I definitely think that African parents should be a bit more lenient when it comes to allowing their children to pursue creativity. Personally, I had to have that conversation with my mum. She wanted me to be a lawyer. I had to sit her down and make her understand why that is not the thing for me. I didn’t want to do something and then end up being resentful about it.
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So when she allows me to do stuff, she’s doing it out of understanding my reasons. When parents allow you to pursue what you want it even makes it easier to open up about the struggles we’re going through, anything new that I want to try in my career…and that way, we do what we love with their guidance.
CF: So what are some of your best shopping tips?
CW: First of all, figure out your style before you start shopping so that you’re not just buying things because they are trendy or you saw something with it and you probably don’t know how it’s gonna look on you. So just know yourself. Secondly, don’t just buy things because they are on sale. You’ll end up with so much junk that you can’t even wear.
Only buy exactly what you want. The third point is to buy something that you already know how to style; you know how you’ll pair it with whatever you have in your closet. So just make sure you have outfits that can complement readily with whatever you are buying.
CF: Talking of personal styling…how can someone discover their individual, unique style?
CW: The best way is to first get inspiration. Look at the people you admire in terms of style and then borrow a thing or two from them. Once you have gotten inspiration, look at the different pieces that they have and figure out how you can personalize them. Inasmuch as you are getting inspo, do not copy. How an outfit looks on someone else isn’t necessarily how it’s gonna look on you. This depends on your size, shape, and your personality…and how conservative or showy you are.
CF: What are some of your favorite fashion brands and why?
CW: I don’t really shop from the same fashion brands all the time. I shop a lot so I tend to look at various avenues. However, the one thing I can say is that I am not a fan of high street fashion. These brands tend to have the same things. Think of TopShop, H&M, River Island, Zara…I don’t really shop from them as much for this reason. You can get a few nice pieces from Dolls Kill, ASOS, Mistress Rocks, Rugged Priest…there’s just quite a lot of them but not high street.
CF: Now let’s talk about weight gain. In 2020 you’ve put on quite some. Do you intend to embrace your new self or you’d lose much if, for example, you got a modeling deal?
CW: I wouldn’t lose weight. I actually love my body right now, which is quite weird. I know a lot of people prefer being a little skinnier. It’s a preference thing. Hence, I prefer being a little on the thicker side. If I was to get a modeling deal, it definitely won’t be a runway gig. If I was to get a commercial deal, however, I would want them to embrace my body type; it needs to be represented.
I feel like now there’s more conversation about plus size. However, I don’t think I am on the plus-size spectrum…I am more of slim-thick, in the medium range, and that also needs to be represented. We are living in a world where all sizes and shapes are being accommodated, so I wouldn’t lose weight.
CF: So who do you look up to in terms of style? Who’s your favorite and why?
CW: Totally Rihanna. I look up to Rihanna so much. Truly, I have always admired her since I was young. I love how strong and expressive she is. She doesn’t hide anything about herself. She dresses however she wants and her style is unique. That is really what I am about.
I like unique pieces and that’s why I told you that I don’t like high street brands. Things that stand out. I want to enter a room and stand out because of how I am dressed. Rihanna once said, ‘you can beat me, but you can’t beat my outfit’ like that’s just how I really am.
CW: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt while growing your brand online…the main that other influencers should know?
CF: Your brand should reflect the person that you are. The kinds of things you post are inevitably gonna be how people perceive you. If you post gossip, for instance, that’s how people will associate your brand with you. Make sure, before you start building your brand, be sure about what you want to be known for.
If it’s fashion, makeup, or travel, identify your niche first and build your brand from there. Make sure every single thing that you post is intentional so that you have control of what people associate you with. I put out a lot of outfit stuff and body positivity content, and that is what I want to be known for. You’ll never come to my page and find gossip, hate, or drama.
You will come to my page for fashion inspo. Another thing is consistency. It’s really hard but it’s important. I’ve also been struggling with that and I am really, really trying my best to balance because I have uni. Otherwise, people will forget you
CF: What’s your future plan for your platform? Do you plan to do this for good or you’re just experimenting for the time being?
CW: At the moment, this is what I’d love to do for a very long time. Possibly, if other social media platforms come up I’ll embrace them. For fashion, I plan to have my own brand someday. I’d love to start a business in fashion that incorporates my style because I struggle to get the pieces that I really like. I’d like to create a line that has the kind of stuff that I like. That’s it; social media for a very long time and ultimately venturing into the fashion business.
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