It has been a grueling couple of years living under the cloud of COVID-19 and the global devastation it inflicted in so many ways. Increased isolation periods have exacerbated loneliness and many other mental health issues. The economy has been impacted, our jobs, the way we interact with each other, and on and on and on. So you can be forgiven for putting self-confidence and self-worth on the back-burner, while trying to survive the ongoing uncertainty.
But we have been encouraged by the growing awareness of self-care and really taking the time to slow down and live in each moment. The wider recognition of taking care of ourselves first and foremost is a refreshingly welcome change in our “hustle” culture. And one woman who does this with expertise is social media influencer Achieng Agutu, who you should be following and downloading her messages directly into your soul every day.
Achieng has coined herself a “tantalizing confidence queen” and empowers her 400K+ followers to live their best authentic lives. Her videos empower women to redefine beauty standards (2.8M views), prioritize self-care (1.2M views), and navigate life with self-confidence (2M views). Achieng’s high-energy motivational videos have gained traction as more people turn to social media for joyful uplifting content — her Instagram audience skyrocketed from 11.5K followers to 400K in just 12 months.
She attended her first of many NYFW shows in September 2021 and is eager to make her mark redefining luxury as a full-figured, dark-skinned Black woman. Recently she has collaborated with a number of fashion and beauty brands, and was also invited to the premiere event for Lizzo’s Amazon Prime series ‘Big Grrrls’.
Achieng’s popularity completely makes sense given our current climate, and we can’t get enough of her content. Along with her passion for empowerment, style and beauty, Achieng is is also a Hult International Business School graduate whose entrepreneurial prowess is only going to grow in the near future. So we had the chance to speak to the confidence queen despite her ridiculously busy schedule, and learn more about the origins of her own self-confidence, and how she wants to redefine beauty and luxury for the next generation of “It” girls.
Tell us first of all where you get your confidence from? Were you always positive and confident in yourself?
I get my confidence from truly understanding my worth. I haven’t always been confident. It’s come from me choosing myself every day, loving myself unapologetically, knowing I’m worthy of everything and that I’m worthy of being confident and having confidence. I am worthy of standing up and standing out!
You were born in Kenya and moved to the US as a teen. What are the biggest cultural differences you have seen when it comes to peoples’ confidence levels in both countries?
In my opinion, African women move with a huge amount of confidence naturally and they really know they’re “That Girl” or the “It Girl.” When I was growing up in Kenya, I sensed a lot more inherent confidence in women. My experience in America is that I’ve found there are a lot more preconceived notions of who people should be which puts pressure on us to fit into this standard mold as opposed to just being themselves. This is especially true for Black women.
Social media has certainly become a big stage for you, with your followers logging on everyday to see and hear you drop gems of self-love and motivation. Why do you think so many people are craving messages like yours?
People are no longer wanting to only see cute pictures or beautifully-manufactured and curated content. Of course, there are amazing creators out there that do that and that is also art. I feel like people, myself included, want to feel something. I feel the need to create content that’s authentic and makes me feel something, and in turn, make others feel something. Somehow, my platform has transcended into a space where people want to hear more messages of self and motivation, and they want to be a part of this expression. It inspires others to create content that speaks to their experiences too, or simply be more comfortable feeling their wide range of emotions.
We love seeing more women, and especially women of color, taking up space and creating new narratives around beauty and confidence. What role do you feel you place in this movement?
My place in this movement is to bridge a gap between Black women and the spaces we aren’t frequently called to lead – luxury fashion and beauty for example. I want my content to be a space where people see a Black woman belonging and thriving in the places we didn’t always know are also built for us. I’m filling that gap by creating content that represents women who look like me, talk like me, and can relate to my previous and present experiences.
You are a graduate of Hult International Business School. Can you tell us about your future business plans in the fashion and beauty world?
I really want to be able to create something tangible for my audience where they feel seen, heard, loved and appreciated. Whether that be to curate something you can wear to make you feel super confident, extra beautiful or super sexy, or an experience you can walk away from feeling like your best self. I definitely want to expand my brand beyond digital and create something tangible that’s still accessible to my community.
We can’t get enough of your colorful outfits that just pop! Outfits are often a vehicle to share a statement or message. What is the message you want to share for your followers with your brilliant colors?
Vibrance is amazing. Vibrance is such a fun way to express your emotions, feelings, and creativity. People should not be afraid to wear color. Color looks so good on everyone! Be proud of colors and wear them today, tomorrow and days after that.
More people are focusing on self-care and mental health due to the pandemic. How has COVID impacted the content you create, and even your own mental health?
The pandemic has definitely helped me grow as a content creator. I started creating content because I really wanted to connect with a much wider group of people, especially since I was so alone when I was at home. COVID forced us to be isolated and my feelings of loneliness really impacted my mental health. I was feeling depressed for a really long time even though I was going through the motions of life and doing what I was doing.
That’s what pushed me to create more on social media because I sought out connections with people through social media. The connections I’ve made with people through my content has lifted me out of my lower moments and has also helped me tune into my well being and understanding my emotions.
Creating content that helps other people’s mental health has helped my own mental health. I became more intentional about my mental health and started to learn what makes me feel better, such as creating content that feels authentic to me, being honest and transparent about what I’m going through, as well as by seeking resources like therapy.
Who are your fashion heroes right now, and why?
Steve Harvey! Steve really comes through with such great outfits. Maybe I should officially thank him, or his stylist, for just showing the world and men his age a different way of dressing! I feel like when people get older, they feel like they no longer have to make an effort on their fashion. But he’s changing the game with his looks and that’s inspiring me to really bring my A-game in my own fashion 24/7/365. Another one of my fashion heroes is Lupita Nyong’o who has been my style icon from the beginning. To me, she represents elegance, class, power, and magic. *Chefs kiss*
How are you trying to redefine luxury fashion as a dark-skinned, fuller figure woman?
Luxury is what you make of it. Luxury doesn’t necessarily mean Gucci bags or Chanel shoes. Luxury is what makes you feel like your highest, best self. For me personally, being my best self means doing things that people didn’t think I could do and proving to those people and myself that I, in fact, can. It’s occupying and leading spaces where people didn’t think I could even be a part of. But I am! Whether that’s on TV, being in magazines, or receiving higher education. Luxury is me breaking down walls that were gate-kept and leading in those places, as well as creating new lanes and taking space. That is a luxury to me.
Follow Achieng Agutu on Instagram and get your daily dose of self-confidence right at your fingertips!