Xenia Tchoumi is a Swiss-Italian model, blogger and digital entrepreneur. With over 7 million followers combined online, she is a force to be reckoned with; speaking to us about fashion, social media, model life, and female empowerment, we get an insight into what it’s like to be Xenia Tchoumi.
HI XENIA, HOW ARE YOU?
Hey, wonderful thanks and you? I’ve had a very happy and productive day, and it’s sunny in London. Who can ask for more?
I’M GOOD, THANK YOU! NOW, YOU’VE COLLABORATED WITH FERRAGAMO, DIOR AND VOGUE, YOU HAVE SHOT FASHION EDITORIALS FOR THE LIKES OF ELLE, VANITY FAIR AND L’OFFICIEL, AND RECENTLY FRONTED A CAMPAIGN WITH ADRIANA LIMA FOR IWC WATCHES. WHAT IS IT LIKE WORKING WITH SUCH ICONIC NAMES?
It’s more than an achievement! It’s definitely a confirmation that hard work pays off and that traditional fashion houses and important names are finally start to pay attention to the digital world. They’re appreciating the quality of work we are doing as digital influencers.
WHAT DOES FASHION MEAN TO YOU BECAUSE YOU LOOK ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE IN EVERYTHING THAT YOU WEAR…
That’s so sweet of you. Fashion for me goes far deeper than vanity. It’s self-expression; an expression of culture and a vision of the world. It’s a transformational tool. I find fashion to be a wonderful tool for self-empowerment and most importantly, female empowerment.
WE SEE A LOT OF YOUR STYLE AND WORK ACROSS SOCIAL MEDIA; HOW AND WHY IS SOCIAL MEDIA IMPORTANT TO YOU?
In the world we live in it’s an incredible way to reach an audience that is interested in you, what you have to say and your vision of the world. It’s an unfiltered reality that if used wisely, the relationship with your virtual community can be an important two-way conversation and an extremely creative, visual experience.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR PEOPLE ON SOCIAL MEDIA WHO ARE WANTING TO GROW THEIR AUDIENCE?
Plenty! When I speak in conferences or universities I try to give as many tips as possible. The most important one is to be consistent in your message. Never promote something that doesn’t fit your ideal or brand just because it pays. Publish regularly and at the most engaging times, as well as engage with people that are doing the same job. So if you are a beauty influencer, you should try to team up with girls with a similar following. This way you gain quality followers that are actually interested in your field. Very often it is better to have a slightly smaller, but very focused, following than random big numbers.
YOU HAVE SUCH A HUGE FOLLOWING ONLINE, THAT OBVIOUSLY COMES WITH A NEGATIVE SIDE. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH ONLINE HATE?
I ignore it. It’s part of the game and any type of attention should be perceived as a sign of success. But the best thing to do is to completely ignore hate, or (if you feel the need) point it out and laugh at it in a soft and non-antagonistic way together with the rest of your community.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM YOU JOINED?
It was FaceBook… I was quite late in the social media game, yet I learned quite rapidly. That’s why my FaceBook has almost 6million people following it right now.
DO YOU THINK SOCIAL MEDIA HAS ENABLED MORE WOMEN TO EMBRACE THEIR ENTREPRENEURIAL SIDE?
Without a doubt. Women can have flexible times (think of those with kids or a family who can work from home), express their feminine side and get an online support of similar women across the world. I also believe that the internet is not only a relatively cheap way to start a business, but can also be a very good bonding tool. People in remote regions can find like-minded people as long as they can speak the language and have a way to get online.
YOU ARE A HUGE AMBASSADOR FOR FEMALE EMPOWERMENT! CAN YOU EXPLAIN A LITTLE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO TO RAISE AWARENESS FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS AND HOW DO YOU HOPE TO GET THE MESSAGE ACROSS?
I feel extremely grateful to new technologies as I believe they have allowed me to carve a niche for myself, work with incredible people and dream brands as well as travel and discover the world. It also made me an independent entrepreneur. I try to spread the message to the girl that follows me, I always say “you don’t have to conform, be yourself and keep going.. boldly”. I want girls to understand that they can stay sexy and feminine yet be independent and respected for their opinions at the same time. Seems obvious, but sadly equality of the sexes is far from being achieved and we still have a lot to do to modify perception and mentality – even in the most progressive places.
I also work with the United Nations and I’ve been recently nominated as an ITC SheTrades.com ambassadress. This platform allows female entrepreneurs across the world to start trading and selling their products and services to corporations. On the other hand, it serves corporations to include more women entrepreneurs in their supply chains. Empowering isn’t it? Spread the word!
DEFINITELY! WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO ANY WOMAN OUT THERE STRUGGLING WITH CONFIDENCE?
Confidence is honest self-belief. Try to think of what you actually really love about yourself, start there and expand this loving feeling to other areas where you are less confident. Even the most confident of people can get very self-conscious at times, but it’s the courage to get past that uncomfortable feeling and taking the leap that always brings results.
I’M CERTAIN THAT A LOT OF WOMEN LOOK UP TO YOU; ARE THERE ANY WOMEN THAT YOU LOOK UP TO IN THE SAME WAY FOR INSPIRATION?
Many hard working women – my role models change constantly as I grow. But if I have to mention a name I’d always say Oprah Winfrey for how she inspires people to get past difficult situations and thrive despite difficulties. She’s able to connect and empathise with their problems. She’s truly spiritual and powerful.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING NAME ONE OF THE 99 MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN IN THE WORLD?
Incredible because it’s quite early for such a nomination. But if I can use this influence to motivate others, then it’s for the best!
YOU STARTED MODELLING AT QUITE A YOUNG AGE; WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE PEOPLE WANTING TO START THIS KIND OF CAREER?
When I started, at only 12 years old, there was no social media around so there was little control over image or career. I think the industry has changed massively now, so my first piece of advice is take control and good care of your digital presence. The brands, and even the model agencies, started to pay a lot of attention to that. Another thing is that I never quit my studies, and graduated in economics. That was a personal choice but I don’t regret it, I believe it made me very multi-faceted and I would recommend both girls and boys not to give up on education. No matter what path you choose later on, it will make you a more well-rounded person.
YOU ALSO HAVE A BLOG CALLED “CHIC OVERDOSE”, WHICH I LOVE! WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START THIS?
The need for an international online presence and an independent platform where I could express my preferences, ideas and share creative digital projects.
HAVE THERE BEEN MOMENTS IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR WHERE YOU FELT LIKE A FAILURE? AND IF SO, DO YOU THINK THAT HELPED PUSH YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
Absolutely. Fall down seven times, stand up eight right? What made me start the blog was a period of depression after an American book deal that didn’t work out. I was lying on my mom’s sofa for an entire summer, feeling sad and inept while eating bread and Nutella – then the idea just came almost effortlessly. What you see is only the result of many years of consistent work, belief and will power. But I’m happy to say it doesn’t come too easy – it makes me value, enjoy and appreciate what I have so much more!
Follow Xenia Tchoumi on Instagram
interview DYLAN HILTON | @dylanxhilton