A Fashion Blogger's Journey in the Middle-East: BeingLayla.A and the "Battle of the Brands"

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AngelPolacco

Fashion blogging is a phenomenon that is sweeping the Middle-East. Women from all walks of life are taking up the fashion icon mantle and exhibiting their unique sense of style, offering amazing recommendations when it comes to events, clothing, beauty products, and where to dine, and inspiring many other women who want to pursue the same path. What is even more remarkable is how female bloggers in the region have taken over the social media realm. To a foreign or outside perspective it may seem like an unprecedented feat, especially when considering cultural and religious norms. However what most people do not realize is that the example that most bloggers are setting is on embracing culture and observing religion in how women should dress - modestly, but with confidence in how they look.

Layla Al-Siyabi, a 27-year-old Qatar-based blogger, is one of those women who seek to inspire and break boundaries. BeingLayla.A (her blogger name), is a full-time mom and wife but is also dedicated to changing the regional fashion game with her new web series “Battle of the Brands: Middle-East”. 

“[Battle of the Brands] is a style challenge video like no other. It showcases my skills as a creative director, fashion stylist, and enthusiast as well as highlights brands from around the GCC,” Al-Siyabi said. “I want to bring viewers stylish ads that highlight a brand, product, or service that can add value to their life and also empower them,” she added.

“Battle of the Brands” is the product of Al-Siyabi’s time, effort, and passion. She also works on the series with “a team of people that are equally talented.”

Al-Siyabi was initially inspired to start a blog to showcase her love for fashion and lifestyle in the Middle-East. She wanted to make a statement. 

“I decided to launch a platform where I can be myself, embrace my flaws, share my fashion tips, and lifestyle with the mass but keep it real and speak about topics such as self acceptance and beauty standards,” Al-Siyabi said. She added that the reason she chose the name BeingLayla.A is to encourage all kinds women, whether they are mothers, or are a little clumsy like herself, to be anything they want to be if their heart is in it.

In terms of style and fashion, Al-Siyabi was drawn to it from a young age.

“I learned how to sew, which played a big part in my choice to pursue fashion design and gradually allowed me to step into fashion blogging,” Al-Siyabi said. She described her sense of style as being more of a statement maker. “I like black, but I like black with a bang. I also like to experiment with wearing things differently, like wearing my husband’s shirts with my favorite jeans.”

BeingLayla.A started off with video blogs (vlogs) and entered the blogosphere over a year ago. Al-Siyabi sees herself more as a video influencer, hence the launch of her new web series. She also uses Instagram and Snapchat to share different updates as well as her day-to-day life, and has a large number of followers. Al-Siyabi is also inspired by Ascia Akf, a popular Kuwaiti blogger, and is also a fan of maryam_nyc and Sarah Al Madani (aka rouge couture).

Al-Siyabi also talked about the obstacles to being a female fashion blogger. “Not everyone is open to the idea of a modest woman doing social media in this region. Especially if your views are different to the mass,” she said. But she remains optimistic and believes that “if you stay true to your message and passion you will find your audience that can relate to the things you are showcasing. Patience, perseverance and passion are key.”

Understanding the cultural and religious norms for other women who would want to pursue blogging, Al-Siyabi urges women to take the leap. 

“I believe overcoming obstacles lies in yourself and yourself only. Be firm in your beliefs. Don't let negativity or negative people take an ounce of your energy! Brush it off by remembering that it is not worth your time ” she said. “Just go for it no matter what age, or background you are from. Make sure you believe in yourself first!”

When Al-Siyabi is not BeingLayla.A, she spends time with her family and friends. 

“As an individual I was attracted to the fact that blogging gives me the flexibility to be myself and share helpful, creative or fun information, and find an army of women out there who share the same passion,” she said. Al-Siyabi does not have a “corporate day job” as she pursued being an entrepreneur. “I wanted to build something of my own rather then work for anyone else,” she said.

As an entrepreneur, Al-Siyabi hopes that “Battle of the Brands” is liked by audiences. 

“I want to establish this series as my signature online, and on TV one day In Sha Allah. My ultimate goal is to build my brand in media that businesses and individuals can look forward to being a part of,” she said.

Al-Siyabi also believes that appreciating your accomplishments, no matter how big or small they are, is the foundation of your path to success. She also finds that kindness takes people a long way.

“Being kind never hurts anyone,” she said. “When people take advantage of your kindness don't feel bad for yourself, instead rise above it and thank yourself for doing something everyone has a hard time doing these days! #KillThemWithKindness.”



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