With a following of almost 100k on Instagram alone, Shirin Van Dort is an influencer in her own right, but she doesn’t just spend her days posing in fabulous outfits, or showing you how to perfect the latest beauty looks.
Shirin is a multitalented social media influencer with a flair for acting, being behind the camera and expertly editing her own images who also can be seen in new Uzbek TV drama, “Sabokh”.
Staying true to herself whilst being an inspiration to aspiring influencers are just a couple of Shirin’s qualities as she opened up to AboutHer.com about the side to being Instafamous that not many people know about…
Tell us a little bit about your journey as a social media influencer. What made you want to take this career route?
Since childhood, I always wanted to become an actress and always wanted to be on camera. Since Instagram came about, I started using it and it made me realize that it was a different platform that also enabled me to be on camera.
It has a way that makes people feel special. I think it makes a lot of people feel special, especially when they have a huge following and positive engagement from people. This somehow matched my dreams and encouraged me to reconsider my dreams to become an actress and go for it. So thanks to Instagram, I decided to take acting courses.
So Instagram and my love for acting, both became a huge part of my life and was another thing that pushed me to start my own vlog – I wanted people to see my character. I now produce my own videos, and as a blogger and vlogger I use these platforms to talk about fashion, beauty and lifestyle – which to me are all one and the same.
What did you do before becoming an influencer?
It’s funny actually. I have tried everything! Name any industry I’ve worked in it. Ticketing, car sales, secretary, promotions, hostess jobs – mainly when I was a student. Other than that I’ve also worked in media agencies, airlines, and real estate too! So many different jobs!
Who is your primary audience? Who are the people that you feel connect with your content the most?
You know I feel that in Dubai, most of the population are youngsters. There majority of people active on social media are generally aged between 18 and 34 in comparison to those who may be older. So I would say that those people are my main demographic.
In a social media world full of influencers, what do you do to stay current? What sets you aside from the other fashion, beauty and lifestyle influencers?
I believe every influencer has their own style, but at the same time what I see more of now are young girls who are pushed to wear various types of clothing that might not necessarily be their personal aesthetic, or what they started out with, just to stay ahead or on par with the competition. A lot of the time they are styles that a regular person would never wear. They’re not socially wearable clothes and I don’t know anyone, let alone myself who would put together a look that isn’t even remotely practical, just to stay current. So what I try to do is to remain true to myself, but add my own spin on a trend or a look and aim to keep it simple in a world where there are hundreds of trends all happening at the same time.
You have almost 100k followers on Instagram alone. As someone who is considered influential across social media platforms, who influences you?
Before I became an influencer, I would watch a lot of Shereen Mitwalli’s shows, who is a presenter, she caught my attention, likely because we have the same name, but also has a job that I’ve always wanted to do in my life – which is why I was influenced by her. I loved the way she would share particular quotes, and I would love to read quotes too and I’d won an opportunity be in her presence, which is where I also met Gigi Hadid and had a chance to mingle with her and take pictures. That’s also when my confidence grew and I believed I have what it takes to meet great people.
Shereen wasn’t the only one, I also really look up to Oprah. I like the way that she speaks the truth and draws the truth out from others too and allows them to share it with others. That’s how I try to be myself too, I always aim to speak the truth, whether people like it or not. The truth is not always pleasant – but I respect the truth, so I’d say I’m Oprah’s number one fan!
Visually, people take inspiration from your fashion and beauty styles. How do you translate your personality into your content?
I strive to stay true to myself even when it comes to the way I dress – so I couldn’t possibly wear something that I don’t feel is me, or representing who I am. The same way if I have a cream that gives me an allergy, I say, “this cream may be amazing - but this isn’t for me for these reasons” and I say it right away. It doesn’t mean I’m negative – but I want to maintain who I am rather than playing it up for social media.
My style is classic but playful, and I have a love for ruffles so a little bit of a Spanish influence in there - and I also have a huge love for jeans.
What does a typical day in the life of an influencer entail?
A typical day in my life is literally, getting ready, filming that, choosing an outfit based on where I am shooting.I don’t blog every day, but when I am planning to do a blog, I try to catch up with my blogger friends, my photographer friends and we try to have fun and take photos at the same time. As a blogger, you’re not just posing like a model would – you need to be livelier and convey your personality as well as reflect what you’re blogging about. If you really love what you’re doing and enjoying it – that’s when you get the good content comes through. Also because I myself am a photographer, I sometimes spend days working as a photographer, or photoshopping images for a whole day.
What are your ultimate career goals?
My ultimate goals are that I want to continue with acting because, I actually did participate in 2 TV series in Uzbekistan. In the first one I appeared in the last episode and it was a small role, however, in the second one, which just aired for the first time this month, I’m super excited about. It’s called Sabokh, which means “A Lesson” and is set to have around 200 episodes.
What do you feel is the most overrated part of being a social media influencer?
The overrated part is that people think that being a blogger is wonderful and that the life of an influencer is a dream. They shouldn’t really believe that, because a real career is from where an actual income is generated. As a blogger, in such a saturated market full of them, the competition is really high, and it’s impossible to carve out a lifestyle. You can’t pay your rent or bills from just being a blogger. You might get some freebies, but people shouldn’t overrate bloggers, they should just look to us for inspiration, or use our product reviews as a reference to something they might want to try. It’s not about looking at our lifestyle, being an influencer is not a career. It’s the reason I also work as a photographer, because that’s where I generate an income. Being a blogger is a hobby for me.
There are so many people who aspire to influencers, now more than ever. What advice would you give to someone who is looking to develop a career as a full time social media star?
My advice would be for people to focus on a main career and blog part time, and grow your following whilst you have a career that you can live off. There is no guarantee that anyone might be successful as a blogger – the industry might be booming today but down tomorrow. So you really need a full time career if it doesn’t work out for you.
Lastly, what words of empowerment would you like to share with our readers?
There are empowering quotes that I hear everywhere, but I feel they’re often misused and those are always about “positivity”. They all say “stay positive”, and yes, people should, but staying positive, not many people apply it in the right way as they assume that by being positive, they shouldn’t be susceptible to criticisms and I think that’s wrong.
Positivity to me means to always hope for the best no matter what happens, so the words of empowerment I would like to share are to always hope for the best, because sometimes a negative situation can push us into a positive outcome and for us to do better, and always remain honest and true.