Who’s That Girl: Favour Ajah
Ladies and gents, all eyes on the Nigerian content creator who calls Manila home
Everybody has the ability to be a content creator nowadays. Insert cringe-worthy i—word I dare not say. With inexhaustible resources and platforms, it’s no wonder that one can make a living out of (crafting) his/her own personal brand. Being a creative isn’t easy; trust this freelancer-turned-corporate girl in a sea of starry-eyed, overzealous young’uns—desperate to get their work noticed by people who matter.
Growing up in Manila all my life, I’ve become accustomed to its grit and filth, sometimes too much so that I find myself meaning to escape the familiar (but boy, do I love this city). Cue Favour’s photo and video work…New York, Mexico? No, ma’am. Her work has a certain dreamy je na sais quoi to it that makes it stand out from the rest.
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I met the Nigerian fashion photographer and content creator a year ago many thanks to a random DM. We got acquainted in the familiar streets of Makati by chasing the sun and having hearty laughs over overpriced coffee. Her Instagram account is a refreshing sight of organic content amuck lackluster brand partnerships I try to evade on my Explore Page. Her roster of clients for Schmmood, her photo and video studio, includes SM Youth, Neon Island, Numad Clothing and Retail Lab. It’s 2019, and she recently just launched her personal blog featuring fashion and lifestyle-centered entries championing homegrown brands. This year, she’s rebranding and relaunching Cult HER, a website by women for women highlighting aspects of career. So, what’s next for the 21-year-old creative? A lot, apparently.
Wonder: You’ve lived in Manila for a decade. What’s it like growing up in the Philippines for a chunk of your life, particularly as a Nigerian woman?
It affected me most when I was younger because I dealt with some bullying and have come across “interesting” situations—but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
W: The first time we met, I remember complimenting your bold purple blazer, and you mentioned that it was thrifted. Can you tell us something about your style? Do you have a fashion philosophy?
At this stage of my life, it’s all about experimentation. What’s my story today? Who do I wanna be? Am I on a yacht in the Bahamas or heading to my 5 o’clock with Bey by the bay?
W: Any secret ukays we should know about? Local brands you vouch for?
The ones by SM Southmall are a GEM. You can get so many great pieces for P10 to 20! For good, affordable essentials, SM Youth and not just ‘cause I’ve done a shoot for them but even I was surprised to see the variety of items they have. The colored denim jackets! Listen, this isn’t a commercial. SM isn’t paying me to say this but the GEMS you find in the Department Store? SHOCKING. SM Parisian? They have the cutest bags—like no joke.
W: Speaking of which, I know you’ve worked with brands like SM Youth and Neon Island in the past, any dream brand collaborations?
Pyer Moss, created by Kerbito, is one that celebrates blackness in all forms—from revolution to normalcy. It’s black excellence to the TTT. And NIKE! I would like to create a piece or even a fashion line for them. (Nike, I’m ready whenever you are.)
W: What makes you delight in being a fashion photographer? What got you interested in it?
My love for fashion and photography and all the jazz started when I was little. I’d see magazines, videos and photos, and I wanted to create them. I’d either want to be the muse or the creator. For my 18th birthday, I forced my dad to buy me a camera but it wasn’t ‘til late 2016 that I started taking pictures and creating videos. Cue my first collaboration with Angela Martinez, which began this whole Schmmood shebang. I live for the magic in the moment—the colors, the emotion, the story captured. Photos really do that for me. With fashion photography, I enjoy the flexibility in what I’m able to create.
W: Aside from fashion, I noticed that you’re starting to experiment with beauty content. You recently uploaded a skincare routine video on YouTube. How difficult is it to find the right products for your skin color in a country that’s obsessed with whitening?
Difficult is an understatement but to be honest, it doesn’t affect me as much because I’m used to it at this point. Frustrated? Yes. I’m more saddened because I know that there are Filipinas as dark, or even darker than me who are not being represented. We also have to deal with being fed this narrative of being “less desirable” [because of our skin color].
W: You’re rebranding and relaunching Cult Her, can you tell us what to expect? Who did you create this platform for?
I’m creating Cult HER for women—more specifically for myself. I wanted to create a space that celebrates female energy, wit, art and strength in all its essence. What to expect? You gon’ have to wait for it.
W: Any advice for up-and-coming content creators to help them stand out in a sea of young talents?
Firstly, trust in your purpose; know that God doesn’t make extras. Know that your anointing is in your authenticity. Your audience identifies with your story and your art so don’t deprive them of that experience by tryna be someone else. There’s only one you so you gotta DO YOU BOO.
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Images c/o Favour Ajah
Art Alexandra Lara