Karen Wazen Bekhazi is a Dubai-based fashion, beauty, and lifestyle influencer with 450,000 followers on Instagram. We got into Karen’s life story and her fascinating journey to this point. She also shared some great advice for anyone interested in growing their social media presence. As a result, this episode is a little longer than usual.
Karen is a fashion, beauty and lifestyle influencer whose followers are mostly women aged 18-34 located in the USA, UAE and KSA. She has worked with numerous, diverse brands including Dior Beauty, Louis Vuitton, Apple, Jo Malone and Cadillac. Karen is busy! She has a husband, three children under the age of four and a hectic work travel schedule. Karen is a big believer that women can “do it all” and is a passionate cheerleader of women everywhere.
We had an animated chat about all things “influencer”: I asked Karen what she does on a daily basis and how she maintains a balance between glitz and reality. We talked about the recent reveal of her skin condition and how her followers reacted to it. We discussed how Karen became one of the region’s biggest influencers and how she curates her digital content. The burden of scrutiny also came up – including the need for thick skin! Finally, Karen gave us some tips on how to take strong photographs and how to build one’s following on Instagram.
“You can grow horizontally or vertically.”
This is applicable in many different contexts.
To find out more about Karen, follow her on Instagram @karenwazenb and YouTube.
Read the Transcript
Ladies and gents, my guest on today’s show is a homegrown international influencer. Karen Wazen has about 450,000 followers on instagram, mostly women aged 18 to 34, located in the USA, UAE, and Saudi Arabia. She’s a social media sensation on fashion, beauty, and lifestyle, and has worked with numerous diverse brands, including Dior beauty, Louis Vuitton, Apple, Jo Malone, and Cadillac. Karen is also a power mom and a passionate cheerleader of women everywhere. I asked her what an influencer does on a daily basis and how Karen tries to keep balance between glitz and reality. We talked about the burden of scrutiny, the recent reveal of her skin condition, vitiligo, and how her followers reacted to it. We discussed how Karen became one of the region’s biggest influencers and how she curates her digital content. She also gave us some tips on how a brand can build a following on instagram. So let’s get into it.
Karen it is such a pleasure to have you on the show. Thanks for coming on When Women Win.
Thank you for having me. I’m super excited to be here and it’s actually my first time participating in a podcast, so I’m very happy to be here with you and let’s see how this goes.
Excellent. Well, let’s start with a crazy story. You know, you’re an influencer with over 400,000 followers. There’s got to be some craziness that comes in.
There is. Actually every day for me is crazy because I would say there’s not one day that is like the other. Two things that happened I guess throughout this journey that I would consider crazy because these are things that I did not expect at all and the first one is when I shared that I had vitiligo, which was something that I was very reluctant to share, because I was afraid that people would judge me and think that it’s not a big deal to them or, you know, they would be like, okay, other people are suffering from much bigger things. So what is this like who cares?
And just for the listeners, what is vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a skin depigmentation condition where you lose color in your skin. So I started to have it on my neck and then bit on my face and on my back. I’ve discovered that I had around a year ago and I just never shared it. Even when people would ask me what is this. I would never cover it, but I never shared anything about it just because for those reasons, it’s not that I didn’t want to stress something personal. I’m very open about everything. I was just afraid that people would think it was either a cry for attention or that like seriously she complaining about this?
Too trivial, exactly. So I once was like, you know what? I’m just going to share it because maybe other people are going through this or maybe people have other insecurities that are maybe physical that this might make them feel better and so I did. This is one of the only times where I’ve actually cried from people’s reactions were it was like, oh my God, actually this is I am influencing people in a way and this was a very important time in my journey, I would say, where I realized that what I’m doing has a purpose because sometimes I realize like, okay, what exactly am I. Like who’s listening, who’s out there, is it just for entertainment or are people taking something home with them and at this moment I felt that, okay, I have an audience who likes me, who support me, and who even take things that are negative, not just the positive things. So something that is negative, they like it and some people opened up about their conditions or the things they were going through and it just like it opened up this I feel more real and open relationship between me and my audience and it was a really very nice moment for me, honestly.
So it was a hugely positive reaction from your followers.
And this isn’t a long time ago. So I’ve been doing this three and a half years and it took me three and a half years to have a moment like this where I realized even though I do get support all the time from the people who follow me and I think it’s incredible, but I think I always felt that people only followed me to see something positive, but when I felt that even something negative, people wanted to relate to it or people wanted to tell me like, oh my God, we have this too, and thank you for sharing this. Now that you have it, we’re happy to — things like this that I was hearing. I was like, oh my God. Okay. So they liked me for who I am and this moment was really nice.
That’s your crazy story but I think you had another one. Has a fan ever done something mad?
Karen I saw your birthday. The room in your birthday and you were like panning, I’ve never seen so many flowers in my life.
I had moments like these, obviously. There’s a bit of everything. So obviously I have some amazing supportive followers that really would get out of their way to do things and I’m like, that’s so crazy. There’s this girl, I was just going to Lebanon to Paris and we had a stopover in Lebanon and I didn’t mention that I was going to Paris after Lebanon. So I said something like heading to Beirut and she went to the airport waiting for me to come out and then I never came out because I was going to Paris. I saw her later and she told me the story and I was like, what? In my head, like why would someone actually? I don’t realize. I have stories like this where I don’t realize that people
really feel that way
would get out of their way just to meet me and this is crazy for me and yeah my birthday I had people, girls, some of them who have become very loyal. I know who they are and I’ve met them and they come to every single meet-and-greet that I’ve done and stuff. So they have done videos for me. Like, really emotional, nice, compilation videos where they put things of my life together and I’m just like, oh my God, my husband doesn’t do this for me.
Things like this to me are crazy to me because I don’t realize what it is like being on the other side, you know. So I just feel like, okay I’m just living my life, doing my things. I’m not realizing that along the way there are people who are getting like attached to me or that follow me.
Tell me about your followers because people who have been in the corporate world for 15, 20 years and you know, we’re mostly, we I mean myself, and most of the listeners are on LinkedIn. We’re big on LinkedIn. Not so much on instagram. A lot of my friends aren’t even on instagram. So what does it influencer do?
I get that a lot. Even people who are very close to me who see me daily but are not necessarily active on social media are like what is it exactly that you do and it’s actually weird because I wouldn’t even know how to address this question because I don’t know exactly how to define what I do, but what I do is I’m active on social media, Instagram and Youtube. I was on snapchat as well and I just literally share things about my life with an audience that is growing. So obviously I didn’t start off with 400,000 followers. I’m here, 400,000 followers now. I basically share everything about motherhood, family stuff, my home, the way I dress, how I’m feeling. So I really I’m open about who I am and I’m just sharing all about my life with an audience because I get this feedback when I ask them like, what is it that you guys like about what I do? And a lot of people think or feel that I’m relatable because I’m just a very regular woman with a very regular life. There’s nothing. I’m not like an artist or I’m not like a — I don’t have this special skill. I’m just an ordinary woman that people can find a lot of themselves in. So I think this is what people like to see and also like at this point, I’m juggling, like I think a lot of women do, like work and travel and kids and a husband and a house and myself and so I think people like to see, okay, how is this person doing all of this? And they want to see how this person lives everyday. Not just the highlights of, okay, she’s just, she’s traveling. They want to see how it is daily and this is something that I’m very catious about and I share myself, no makeup in my pajamas. Just really the way a real personal lives and so yeah. This is I guess what I do. I share my life with people and the message that I want to convey very much so is that women can do it all because I genuinely believe that women can do it all and I want to believe that women can do it all and I want to be a woman that can do it all. So this is the kind of message that I want my audience to listen to and to be inspired by. My audience I would say from the insights, because now on instagram you can tell. You have like an insights where you know how old they are, what gender, and stuff. So my biggest audience is at 83% of my followers are actually women and they range from the ages of so the bigger bulk is between 25 and 34 or something. The second biggest is 18, actually, I think it’s maybe more or less the same. 18-35 is the age group. Which is amazing because to me I would not only want young girls to follow me and I would not only want moms to follow me. I would want like everyone to follow me just because I want, because I feel you can find a bit of me in everyone. In tdhe single girl and a married girl, in a mom and a career woman.
Yeah, but let’s go back to what an influencer does. I mean, you do more than share your life, right? Because that’s not a business. But let’s start at the beginning. Obviously becoming an influencer didn’t exist when you started on instagram. I don’t think, did it?
And it certainly wasn’t your intention. So how did it come about?
I always used to like sharing whether it was through photos or through stories or through — I was always open about this. So even when I would travel with my husband, just me and him, I would carry around a tripod with like a proper camera and there was absolutely no intention behind it. It was just purely I love taking those photos. I love, I like keeping these memories and then I think there was like initially like a blackberry. You can put like a profile picture, remember that was like, yeah.
So I used to do that and then everyone was always commenting like, because you could change your photos and then it would pop up like Karen changed her
X has changed her profile pic
Yeah, exactly. So people would always comment like, oh my God, I love your photos. We always wait to see what your next photo is going to be. So I felt that people liked the kind of content on my just profile photo that I was sharing and then when there was instagram like perfect. Now I can actually upload several of those photos and this is how it started. So I started uploading those photos very like randomly and no intention again, just like things that I liked.
Sharing with friends and family, presumably.
Yeah and then my following just started to grow and I would feel that compared to others, my following was growing a bit faster because I cared about the kind of, the quality of the photo. I cared about the message behind the photo so I always had, not at all with an intention. It’s just the way, you know, some people would post whatever. I would like my photos to be nice. So that kind of thing and then people, my following just started to grow and grow and grow and grow and I was like, okay, this is nice. Like I was, I remember I had my first job call, so again, I didn’t know this would ever turn into a job, and I was I had just given birth I think to Georgie. Yeah, I had just given birth to my son and I was in Dubai. A brand calls me and they asked me like, are you willing to collaborate and I had no idea what that meant. I was like, sure and then they’re like, so what we want is five posts and a competition or something like that and like a store attendance. I’m like, okay, I had no idea and I didn’t want to show the brand that I had no idea what this was about. So I’m like, yeah, of course, whatever and then I call my friends and I’m like guys, what does that mean, whatever and then I started a bit understanding how it works and I went to my first store event and I was so scared that people weren’t going to show up because I didn’t know at this point anything about what I was doing or why I was even doing it. I go to the store and I had so many girls like there they were like oh my God, I love you so much. I’m like, what? There are people that are actually like there listening and this is how it started and then one brand led to the other, to the other and then until I started developing great, amazing relationships with brands and now. Yeah, so actually you’re right. I only spoke about the social part of my work. I didn’t actually talk about it as a business and today I could definitely say that it’s turned into a business where I collaborate with brands, brands that I love, brands that I believe in, brands that I’m just supporting. Not necessarily with the financial.
Oh, you support brands just, you know, for free.
Of course, yeah.
And do you have a limit on how many brands you work with at any one time?
Yes, because the way I would be on myself is the way that I would want to be on my profile. So if, for example, I have five clients coming to me and telling me we want you to promote five perfumes. Say no. Like a normal human being does not wear five different perfumes in one month so it really depends on what the product is, but makeup, let’s say I could use five brands in just my daily makeup, so it really depends on the reality of things in my life and I would like to be as real as possible when it comes to what I’m sharing. So yeah, this is the way I would limit it. Just based on the realness of it in my life.
Okay and so tell us about the business side a little more. So the brand comes to you and says, will you do this, this, this, but what else does it encompass other than putting posts on instagram?
A lot because the nature of this business is, it’s not like a nine to five kind of job at all. It’s all the time. So I’m constantly sharing what’s going on and this could be a little bit overwhelming because there’s no time for it, so I can’t be like, you know what, I’m done. Like I’m on vacation. No, when I’m on vacation it’s when I have to create even more content and sometimes, for example, when I’m lucky that we can travel and stay in a hotel, in a resort free of charge in exchange for me reviewing the hotel or posting of it. So this is amazing and I will never take this for granted, but this also means that I’m there for a purpose and to show the place and take photos and create content and stuff. So these are kind of the parts that people don’t see. They don’t see that it is work and it is constant and so far I feel I’m managing better than I was before at knowing how to limit my time and organize my time. So I take, for example, there’s one of my kids, especially the main part is my kids. I want to be there for them and with them and not be thinking of what I’m going to post next or you know, just checking on my phone or whatever. So I’ve literally gotten to the point where I just put my foot in another room just so that when I’m with my kids, I’m 100% with them because other than that it’s so tempting to just look and see, okay, what’s going on now if I posted a photo to checkup on the likes or see what the comments I’m getting or anything. So it’s very tempting to just keep, it’s even turned into a reflex, I would say, to just go into instagram but these are things that I’m conscious about and I try to create boundaries just so that it doesn’t, you know, so it doesn’t affect a lot of my daily life.
Yeah. I mean, because what you do, your camera is a lot on your kids and in your home and on you and your husband. So I was really curious as to how you separate work from life because it seems your work is your life.
Yeah, exactly. That’s the thing. My work is my life and my life is my work. Like it’s very intertwined. I don’t know how exactly. I just got to the point where I’m used to this lifestyle a lot more now where if you actually calculate all my stories, all the time of my stories, I think it would add up to around maybe five minutes.
In any one day, you mean.
In a day and that’s really not a lot of the day.
But do you take multiple takes?
No, no. That’s the thing. So some people work really hard on the aesthetics of their story and I don’t, I’m just literally take upload, take upload because I don’t want to, this is a personal thing, I don’t know if it’s right or if it’s not but I care more about the showing the realness then showing aesthetically kind of what it is and even like now let’s say I’m here, I want to take a photo of me being here and post it because this is the kind of content that I like to share. I like to share in the moment like what I’m wearing in that day. Not, obviously sometimes I do throwbacks but I’m not very strategic in the way that I’m, okay, I’m gonna take photos and then store them and then every once in a while post them. It doesn’t work for me that way. I do things daily. I don’t know if it’s right or if it’s wrong, but I just because this is the kind of person that I would like to follow and I want to be that person to other people where they’re really getting an insight on me, daily.
So how do you manage the overwhelm? Because it is overwhelming, is it not?
Yeah. Definitely overwhelming. First of all, my husband is super supportive and I wouldn’t be doing any of this if I didn’t have a supportive husband who believed in what I was doing as a business, who doesn’t mind taking as many photos of me?
That’s amazing because my husband hates social media. He’s not even on facebook and I just started on instagram not too long ago, a few months ago, and he will not take pictures of me. He’s like no, this is our life. This is me and you time.
You know, I told you I was doing this free so he knows this about me and it’s not like he’s like, okay, now all of a sudden you want to show something that I’ve always been like that before instagram, before anything. So he kinda got, actually, I think we used to take more photos before than we do now because before we were just taking for no purpose. So we’re just like, click. Now at least I know that I want to take, I want to post let’s say two photos on our trip or whatever. So it’s like a couple of minutes, that’s all it takes.
And then put the phone in the other room.
Exactly. So yeah and I’ll also like, I get asked if I have a photographer, if I have someone. I don’t, like now my cousins here and she’ll be taking the photos, but if she wasn’t here I would probably ask you to take a photo, you know what I mean? Like I’m just very, yeah and then I am, I’ll just, you know, edit it.
Sorry I interrupted you. You were talking about the overwhelm and you said your husband’s super supportive.
Yeah, my husband exactly is extremely supportive and he helps me a lot with just managing my overwhelmness. When I was in Lebanon now there was this conference happening and it was crazy because so many people showed up to see me and I couldn’t believe, I couldn’t wrap my finger around it. I really, really couldn’t. I wasn’t expecting this at all. I got into the car when I left and I just come home and I started crying and he was like, what happened? Like did someone bother you and I’m like, no. And I couldn’t explain why I was crying. He’s like, what? I’m like, I don’t know. I really and I genuinely did not know why I was crying. I was crying because I didn’t expect this. Maybe I was shocked and like tired because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I didn’t want anyone to be like we came all the way to see her and she didn’t, she wasn’t responsive or she wasn’t nice or she wasn’t. So I didn’t want anyone to feel that.
So you met them all?
I literally spoke to every single. I can guarantee that not one person can come back and say she was rude or she was whatever, even though it wouldn’t be naturally like rude but sometimes you’re tired by the end of the day, just like, you know. But I did. Everyone was asking me not only for photos for them but photos for their friends and boomerangs for their friends and videos for can you say hi to this, can you say hi to that, can you do that? And I literally did everything for everyone happily willingly, but obviously by the time I just got to the car I was like, oh my God, what just happened? And it was very, very overwhelming. Amazing for me because again, I didn’t expect it. So it was so nice to see so much love really around me and yeah.
Congrats on your first moderation job. I saw you moderating that panel, bravo.
It was also nice. That was also a great thing for me because I didn’t expect also to for me to be able to moderate a panel and be a panelist. So it was nice. Overall the experience was really nice, overwhelming and in a positive way.
But I see you exercise a lot. Maybe that’s a way you manage the overwhelm.
No, I don’t.
No? All these bike rides and these tracy workouts. Sorry if I know all this about you obviously because it’s your own fault.
I cycle with my husband. So again, my family obviously is my biggest priority and my husband is also like my big priority in my life where I do not want in any way to feel that what I do takes time away from him because I love him and I wouldn’t be doing any of this if it wasn’t for him, for his presence, for his support. So we have a lot of amazing time together where we do a lot of things together. Cycling is one of the things that we do together where it’s not like we have our earphones on and we’re listening to music, we’re just literally talking the whole time. So we’re together for an hour and we keep our phones like obviously we’re cycling so we have no interruptions and we just chat and talk and share things and like it’s an amazing way for us to bond also obviously to benefit our bodies and it’s nice. We do it at night so we have dinner and then we go. It’s just a fun exercise and it’s just a good bonding time for me and him. So these are things that these are little things that we do to just everything.
What were the big milestones? You said obviously you started with a few followers, like anyone who joins instagram, and now you’re at 400 something thousand. What were the milestones to getting, were there certain spikes in the journey?
Yeah, of course. First of all, I remember well what I was talking to my mum’s partner who is older and for him like this whole social media thing is so new and it was at the point really new to up to everyone and I told him like, you know, if I hit 50k I’m going to be so happy because it’s crazy like 50,000 people and I remember when I hit 50K I was like, oh okay, I’m there so maybe I can do 100. And then I was like, oh my God, I’m at 100 and then it just like obviously. So the numbers were definitely a milestone and now I’m like okay, I’m close to half a million and then hopefully a million and it’s not that it’s about the numbers, but for me to see that there’s an audience, it’s not like I have an audience that I feel are just there for entertainment. I feel like we’ve grown to have a relationship. So I know a few of them not from their names, from the messages they send me and so it’s like really, when they say online family, I don’t want it to sound cliche, but it’s true. I really do genuinely believe that I have an online family. If I get hate messages, I get like people defending me like, and I’m like this is amazing.
Wow. So I want to go into both those things but let’s start with the loyal fans as the followers. Is it not weird for you when people you don’t know send you I love you, my queen, so beautiful, heart heart heart, kiss kiss kiss.
It’s not that it’s weird. I don’t take it like weird negative. I’m not like, oh my God, who is she and why does she love me. No, because I know why. I know that I’m putting myself out there. I am making these people like me because I let them into my life. The way you would meet someone, be like you what, I actually really like this person because you got to know her. I’m making people get to know me. So I’m definitely not weirded out by that and I also love people that I don’t know from social media. Like I feel like, oh my God, I could still be friends with this girl. I like the way she is. I like her, she’s just cool and funny and I like them and I like, I feel like I really do love not love them, but like I love, like I love watching them and stuff and I think that this is what people mean when they say I love you. They love what I do and you know, they’ve grown to like who I am. So I don’t find it weird. I actually really like it and I do see that it’s different some people. Some people don’t like it, some people are like, okay, who is this person and why is she like in my life. I am obviously not like that because I wouldn’t be doing what I was doing. I love people. I love sharing things. Honestly, I would have no filter if I wasn’t. First of all, sometimes I’m a bit afraid, like Internet sensitivities. I don’t want to offend anyone with some things that I say, but if I just really wanted to just talk, I would be so open about everything in my life and this is just the way I am. I’ll be sitting with you now and I’ll tell you really everything from the difficulties, the things I’ve gone through because I’m just. This is my character, this is my nature. I’ve never been afraid to share things and I don’t care about people’s judgments because I know that at the end of the day everyone deals with things differently and I might not necessarily agree with the way someone else is doing things so.
Well, I did want to go into the other thing you mentioned, the hate. All right. Obviously you are very much in the public eye so you’re going to get the positive and the negative.
That I’m also aware of, as well.
So what are some of the things that have actually?
I actually created an album on my phone and I really don’t know why I did that but I have an album in my photos where I just take screenshots of hate stuff and I put them in there. Not because of anything but because I’m like maybe one day I can use this to either build a case on like bullying or maybe show my kids if ever, hopefully not, they’re bullied to be like, listen, look, you know, just, I don’t know why I’m doing that, but I have this folder.
And you gave it a name, didn’t you?
I called it mean.
Mean album on my phone.
I don’t know how I have the force not to get affected by these. I genuinely do believe that the people who are sending hate are not well themselves because I know that even if I don’t necessarily like the way someone’s doing things, I will never go to their face and say you’re ugly or you’re stupid or whatever. I would never.
Do people say that to you?
Yeah. I get sometimes people telling me like you’re and this is where I kind of feel bad because, so if let’s say I’m watching a movie and there’s this girl that I don’t like whatever and I’m telling you, I’m like, I don’t really, I don’t like the way she is or whatever. It’s something but sometimes with instagram things go wrong where they are sending something to their friends and I get it.
Yeah, so this happens sometimes and I feel bad because I’m not meant to hear this. It’s not directed to me but they would be telling their friends something like her eyes are so ugly or things like that or like her, they say sometimes things like her husband is better looking than her. Some things like that. I’m like showing my husband like look. But like honestly, of course, okay like it’s mean but I’m strong enough to let it just literally bounce off and not care. But where I feel bad is I know that it’s not everybody who can handle it. Some people do get affected, some people really like get sad and I think this is really unfair for people to be put in a situation where they’re just literally being bullied because it’s across the screen and they’re not in your face saying this.
Because if they were in your face they would never say such a thing.
Probobly not and I had this thing once where I actually shared and it was quite personal and I shared a story that happened in my past where I was like verbally abused by an ex and it was very personal. For me to share it was a big deal because first of all because I wouldn’t want in any way this information to even get to my ex boyfriend because I wouldn’t want. I think it’s just for people who might know who he is, I think it’s a bit unfair for him that I’m actually voicing these things and also it’s a part of my life where I wasn’t proud of myself or anything like that but I did it because I’m like also with the point that maybe someone will benefit from the story and know that they can get out of it. That it’s not the end of the world. That you don’t have to victimize yourself. Yeah, it is a horrible situation to be in. You can get out of it and this is kind of the message that I wanted to, because I got out of it and even though I thought that I would never be able to. I do understand obviously there’s some situations are different where some people because, so basically let me tell you what happened. I shared this. I got a lot of people saying thank you and I got a lot telling me, who do you think you are telling us that we can just walk out like that. If you were able to walk out because you have money and because you have this weak hand and I understood it. I’m like, that’s what I meant about internet sensitivities where I’m like, okay, I don’t want people to have taken this in the wrong way where I’m telling them it’s easy. I never said it was easy and I never said that it’s for everyone. I felt that the people that I was talking to was the woman I would want to be if this happened, I would want to feel that I walk out. Husband, no husband, kids, whatever. I don’t think that anyone should be in the situation where they’re being abused for whatever reason and not anything should be an obstacle for them to stay. Not Financial, not anything like I would rather be penniless, finding a job. It’s something that I probably will eventually find than be in a situation where I’m unhappy every single day and my kids. Giving my kids this example, like this is really not something that I believe in at all and this is what I wanted to share and it backfired on me in a way and some people were also saying, you’re being paid a ridiculous amount. I did this obviously zero paid and it was something that I did out of a good cause and because I wanted to share this information. Some people are writing things like, sorry bs, but they were saying like she got paid $25,000 to do this.
By whom, who would pay you to do that?
It’s like, seriously. Like that would be such an easy thing if I’m getting $25,000 just to sit and share something. Like that’s not how it works, really and it hurt me and someone told me, oh, what were your problems? Your Birkin didn’t match your Gucci, something like your Hermes bag didn’t match your Gucci shoes? And I’m like this person doesn’t know me, doesn’t know how I grew up, has no right to accuse me of, to belittle something that I went through that was very painful for me into saying that my problems were my handbag that matched and so these are things that like and I was literally, I remember I was on the plane and there was Wifi and I was getting all these and I was like, oh my God, what is happening? And I was sharing it with my family. So I was taking screenshots, sending it to my family, my group chat asking guys, what do I do? I really want to respond. Like I really wanted to respond because I felt like this person’s attacking me and saying stuff that aren’t real and I didn’t want anyone else to think that it was true or should I delete it. I really didn’t know want to do. I’m like, you know what? I’m just, my parents told me like my family was like ignore, don’t give this person the time of day because she’s trying to provoke you and try
Buy why wouldn’t you delete?
I also didn’t want to delete because I didn’t want to give this person the satisfaction to think that your stupid comments, sorry, affected me in any way. I’m going to keep them. I’m not ashamed of what you think because I know the truth and I kept them and they’re still there now if you check them and it wasn’t like a fake account. It was like an actual person, who is also Lebanese, also a women, also Arab. Like how can you, you know, like not only belittle but not want to support in the country. There’s so much like, so much anger where I feel like people do not would like to see other people maybe succeeding or they want to just shadow, do you know?
Yeah, I heard. No but it sounds like, I mean not it sounds like for sure you need some very thick skin to do what you do. I mean, because with the love comes hate and it’s definitely not for everyone. But having said that, it is a very competitive field. Right? I imagine there’s for every one influencer that makes it, there’s like 10,000 trying. So why do you think you’ve succeeded where others have failed? And I think you touched on the themes earlier, which is
The way I once went to a conference in Dallas and something that one of the speakers was saying stayed with me and it was she described it. She was like so you can grow horizontally or vertically and what that meant was either by were you growing horizontally? It’s basically growing who you are sharing basically more things about your life, so let’s say fashion is something, beauty is something or whatever physical stuff, and then family and then as you’re growing let’s say moving into a new house, sharing, literally growing horizontally things in your life or growing like vertically where you’re growing to different markets, different audience, different. So it’s like this is how she described it and I’m like, it makes sense because this is how I am growing. I’m growing more things of my life than I’m sharing more and more and more things in my life. Like something as silly as I’m posting dance videos, which is something that is just very, it’s something new but it’s something that I’m doing on the side for me as a workout and I’m like, okay, I’m going to share that. So I’m literally sharing things of my life that are going through in my life and also I feel like I’m going forward in my audience because I’m getting to more markets, to more geographically. I feel like I’m going to more a wider audience now.
And where is your audience today, Karen?
I would say mainly the bulk Middle East. So Saudi, UAE, Lebanon, and I have a lot in Egypt and a lot in the US. I actually have a lot in Paris, which was surprising because when I was in Paris and Morocco, like these are places that I remember because when I’ve traveled to these places I’ve been asked a lot can you do a meet and greet? And I’m like, oh, I thought people only knew me in Lebanon and I’m like do you know where I’m from but no. Social media has no
geographical boundaries. So in terms of why you think you’ve succeeded where others have failed.
So yeah, definitely there is a lot of competition. Now one thing I have to say that I got lucky with is that I started at a time where, at least in our region there weren’t a lot of people doing this.
Four years ago, you said.
Yeah, three and a half, four years ago. So I got lucky with that, that I didn’t have a lot of competition at the time. I definitely do see that there’s a lot more, not competition but there are much wider ways of working today. So for example, before they used to work with people based on their followers. Today, no, a lot of brands are working with people who literally just started to have a couple of thousands of followers but they like their content.
So these people today became, not competition, but they became, they’re either going to work with me or they’re going to work with them, so there’s a lot more going on in this world of
And there’s micro influencers a lot of brands are working with.
But to me I just, I really try not to look around at what other people are doing and focus on what it is that I’m doing and what I’ve been doing and why I was have always been and I’m still doing what I’m doing and it’s not really, it’s not about my numbers, it’s not about, it’s just about I love really, I genuinely love to share things. I feel like if I can make a difference in whatever way it could be silly, it could be like I feel fat and I don’t know how to dress today. Let me look at karen and see how she dresses like it could be from the most trivial things to deeper things and this is what I will continue on doing and this is why I think people like me because they, it feels weird to say like me, but this is why people I feel follow me or have some sort of like attachment to what I do because they see that I am a relatable and a real person. I’m not like this model that’s two meters tall. I’m short. I’m average weight. I’m like, I’m normal. I’m the girl next door. I’m not someone who is unattainable. My goals are not unattainable. They are there, you know.
And that’s why you’re on When Women Win because we bring ordinary women doing extraordinary things, you know. And the goal here is to offer our listeners inspiration and also practical tips. So let’s take it to the practical tips for a moment. You are the queen, obviously doing what you do. Queen of selfies and photos. So what tips do you have for our listeners on taking a good selfie, for example?
Good lighting. First of all, lighting is really everything. So if you don’t have good lighting, no matter what, you’re not going to have a good photo. So good lighting, good editing apps because also I can guarantee you that not one photo that you like that you see on instagram is just taken off the phone and that’s it. There is editing that comes in for sure. That’s playing with the lights, playing with the contrast, playing with the saturation, playing with the vintage effect. Like also there are trends in photos. So at some point that trend was going from let’s say light colors. Then it came up more vibrant colors. Now it’s more going for the vintagey kind of. So there are trends also of photos. I think having life in your photos. So I would see, for example, that the least likes that I get are in a photo that doesn’t have life. If I’m just let’s say posing versus if I’m in action doing something, eating, with my kids, doing something like people want to see life in a photo. This is how I think and this is the things that I like to. So even, let’s say yesterday I took a selfie and it did well but that was because there was added value to. It wasn’t just my face. I was showing people the different way that I did an eyeliner, let’s say. So people actually looked at the photo for a longer period to see like, okay, how did she do her liner? So I try in every photo, like I said, from the most trivial things or to the deeper things, add some sort of value to
In every post?
But when you’re just like promoting a clothing brand, I mean, what’s the value?
Yeah but even that it’s style inspiration or something, that’s also something for me to add to someone’s whatever. Because some people just I’m sure that some people follow me just because they like to see what I’m wearing and not that this makes me happy because I would like them to follow me for a lot of more things than just what I’m wearing because what I’m wearing is just really one percent of who I am. But some people I know that this is what they’re after because they’re just like fashion and they see that okay, she’s like and also I have a good mix between high end and very affordable things and my style, like what I’m wearing now for example, is super anyone can wear it. It’s not like it’s something that’s crazy.
So I also think I have relatable style.
And I think as you said earlier, like you follow different people for different reasons and so they probably follow people, you know, so it’s okay if somebody follows you for fashion and somebody follows you for kids and somebody. So we’re going to take it back to the tips. So good selfies, good lighting, good editing apps, have some life in the photo.
Cool, these are the big ones. Okay and in terms of regular people who want to grow their social media presence. So I’m not talking influencers, I’m talking to people of businesses, for example.
I think it’s very important for people not to lose the reason of why they are so like I said, on social media, it’s not just influencers. There’s everything. There’s brands, there’s politicians, there’s so many you use it for so many different reasons. The most important thing I think is to keep reminding yourself what message is it that you want to show and be consistent with that message. So if for example, people know me for doing food stuff and then all of a sudden I’m posting selfies, it’s like, okay, you’re kind of losing. I don’t know why I’m following you anymore. You need to keep reminding yourself what is it exactly that I want to share? And there’s a lot of room. People think it’s too late. I don’t think it’s late at all. I think brands want to work with people who are new. I think people no, I don’t think there are two people that are identical in this world and I don’t think why would I like this person and not the other one if I don’t know what the other person is doing or what the other person has to share. So I think it’s very important for people to understand what it is that they could offer and and really believe in what they can offer and stick to that. So for example, even you now when I asked you like how come the account doesn’t have a lot of followers, I think it’s so interesting for a platform like yours to be an inspirational account for women to go and look at and be like, okay, I don’t feel well today or how is this person doing it and I’m not and then actually check this account for motivation, for inspiration. There’s so much room but it’s just really knowing what kinds of content you want to share that has not been oversaturated, overseen, overdone.
But how do you get the word out? Because even there’s a lot of people with good content but don’t know how to get the word out.
Yeah. I think
In fact, people I follow.
I’ll tell you, like there are ways. First of all, having so obviously like the hashtags and all these things like could help a little bit but having your content reposted by other accounts that do similar things to what you do. So let’s say again, I’m talking, for example, a food blogger. If their food, if they’re, what recipes or their dishes or whatever are getting reposted by bigger accounts that are gonna show this account. This definitely helps in exposure.
Like Jamie Oliver supporting Joe Wicks.
Let’s say or even just there are a lot of big, let’s say food accounts. They have 2 million followers and they just repost random, you know, this is how I grew initially. There were these accounts that would repost my photos and they had much bigger following than I did and I would grow from these accounts. Also collaborating. So for example, now me and you are doing this thing together, you can benefit from my audience to grow, you know what I mean? So collaborating with other people who are. Who could help, who could drive traffic to a platform. Yeah. This is also another way to grow and it’s really also offering something new, offering something new. This is in a saturated market. It’s got to be valued. and then if I had to zoom into the one big question I wanted to ask you, it’s been argued that people who watch social media, I do get depressed by looking at other people’s awesome lives. If you look, and I do want to look at other people, I’m like, how the hell are they doing this? And yeah, exactly. I look at victoria beckham for example. I think my god, she’s always been a heroin reminds to successful careers.
Yeah. Gorgeous husband, four kids, you know, lovely life, always looks absolutely fabulous and I’m like, oh, you know, and then I think, hang on, I’m only seeing a curated part of her life but I think other people may not realize that and so it really drags them down.
Of course. I’ve been through days where I’m like depressed. I would not, not like depressed depressed but like down and overwhelmed and tired and my kids are all crying and like moments I’m like, what I’m like and I feel like it might sound superficial, but I feel ugly. I feel whatever. I don’t like the way I am, like so many there’s so many days like that but I don’t. When I’m feeling that way or when my kids are crying or when I’m worried or these things, I don’t have time to think about my social media. So this is why I don’t share it. It’s not that I do not want to share it. It’s that when I’m with my kids and they are going through something, they just fell down, they just cried, they just whatever, my phone is the last thing that’s on my mind. Wait, one second. Keep crying while film you, you know, I’m just going to attain to them and this is why I don’t have these moments on my platform. It’s not that I don’t want to share them. Maybe I should be more vocal about it and say that, you know, but I do say I’m really tired. I had a bad day today because it’s human and I don’t believe that any one person does not go through these moments or through these days where they just don’t feel well. Even last night I was, I was actually with my cousin and she was telling me like, you know, I’m so proud of you. I’m like it’s so funny that you’re saying this because I had a day to day where I felt so useless. I felt useless. Like I’m like, what did I do today? Nothing and she was like, stop telling me you didn’t do anything. You dropped your kids to school, you picked them up from school, you went to an event, you had a meeting at one in the morning and literally I had people over for her meeting till one in the morning. She’s like and this is not nothing and to me it felt like it wasn’t much because I felt that I could have done more with my time
But we are this disease called productivity. You know and we feel like we have to be so productive all the time and it’s such a problem.
But actually because I like it. When I feel like I had a productive day, I like it.
It’s a self-satisfaction of accomplishment, you know, tick the checklist. I know, I’m the same.
I think that having non-productive days make those productive days satisfying because maybe if they were constant then you wouldn’t feel the value of having a good day.
Sure. Why we value the ups because we’ve had the downs. Yeah. Alright, we are out of time. Karen, this has been such an eyeopener for me. Thank you so much coming on the show.
Thank you for having me.
And how can listeners find you?
Instagram, youtube. I really want to grow my youtube because of what I’ve, because I feel about the fact that I want to share more things. So I feel youtube is a great way to give more than just images on instagram. But for now instagram on my account which is @karenwazenb
And on youtube what’s your?
Okay. So we’ll put these in the show notes so listeners know where to find you.
Thank you so much.
Great, thank you.
I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. You can check out show notes and more episodes at rananawas.com/win or search When Women Win on Itunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. I’d also love to hear your feedback and ideas for who I should bring on the show. You can find me on instagram @rananawas. Thanks and have a great day.