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Unapologetically me: Zainab Faizal 

3 years ago

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By Mahika Panditha  Today, we are featuring one of my favourite and most popular content creators in the game – 22-year-old Zainab Faizal, who you may more commonly know as Queen Bae. Zainab is a blogger, writer, and a digital media consultant for many brands in the country. If you didn’t already know that, well, log on to your Instagram and check her feed out for some astonishing photos and some hilarious TikToks! Zainab is definitely one of a kind and her passion lies in content creation. Her goal is to be one of the most influential content creators in the world and also work for a high-end designer label such as Chanel or Dior (we are rooting for you!) Now, you may see her posts and stories, but did you know that Zainab loves Taylor Swift? Not just as a singer/songwriter, but also as a person? Another fun fact is that Zainab’s guilty pleasure is snacking on frozen fruit! We got the chance to talk to her a while back about content creation, fashion, and travel, and here is what she had to say. Tell us how you started with content creation. To be honest, to be a blogger or a content creator was the last thing on my mind. In fact, I didn’t even know that was a real thing. The only thing I’ve always ever wanted was to publish my own book and write for one of the biggest publications in the country. When I got my first job at 18 as a freelance newspaper journalist, seeing my name on print in multiple articles and meeting hundreds of amazing individuals in the industry, I knew for a fact that there had to be something MORE. That’s when I explored Instagram and watched my account slowly blow up with me just posting my everyday stuff and so I researched more into content creation. Soon, I quit my job and started my blog, and focused on making unique, quality content for everyone to see. So, where did the name Queen Bae (@queen_bae_1926) come from? This is actually very embarrassing! I had my first phone when I turned 18, and until then I had no Instagram. Like any teen, I had Facebook, but Snapchat and WhatsApp were apps I didn’t have access to till much later. And when I started on Instagram, it was meant to be a private account just for my friends. So, Queen comes from Taylor Swift (I know, very cringey) and I used Bae, because, oddly enough, it was a popular term at the time that friends often used, and then 19 being my boyfriend’s birthday date and 26 being mine. Like I said, totally embarrassing and very childish, and by the time it blew up, everyone started calling me Queen Bae, and they actually found it catchy and I realised it was too late to change it since it’s officially turned into a brand that represents me.  Share with us your favourite memories so far as a content creator. There’s so many to choose from! I definitely think it’s got to be the incredible opportunities presented to me; from being able to travel to countries I’ve never been to, to brands both local and international working with me. Having the opportunity to work with companies like Daniel Wellington and Spa Ceylon, and being recognised  by media publications in many countries, from China to London and right here in Sri Lanka (like right now). I’m immensely grateful for everything as well as the incredible people I have had the opportunity to meet.  What advice would you give to people who want to become content creators? Don’t ever start this with the pure intention of gaining popularity, making money, and being famous. Those are definitely the wrong reasons, and your journey to becoming a content creator would crash and that would be painful. What’s important is for you to truly have a passion to share your niche with the rest of the world. Focus on what YOU do best, not what the internet trends dictate you do. Whatever the category, you need to stick to one and work your way up. Trying to juggle everything from the get-go, will lead to a loss of brand and even the audience would be confused. You need to be the person that comes to mind when they mention a particular category – that’s when you know you’ve done somewhat of a decent job. Money and fame will follow once you’ve established yourself. Don’t stress, everything good takes time!   You are totally thriving! Where do you see yourself in the next five years? Thank you very much Mahika! Right now, we’re living in uncertain times with the Covid-19 pandemic and everything seems quite blurry. However, five years from now, I hope to have settled in the UK and be working with much bigger brands, attending fashion weeks in Milan, Paris, and London, as well as working on exciting projects both as a content creator as well as a consultant.   What do you use to capture and edit your photos? Any advice for people trying to up their ‘gram game? I only use my phone. When I started out, I had an iPhone 6S and now I’ve upgraded to an iPhone XS MAX because I’ve always wanted the portrait mode. But in all honesty, it doesn’t matter what you use to take your shots, as long as you have a good eye, know the right angles, and know how to edit. Lightroom is my favourite app and it allows you to enhance your image without drastically changing it, and ever so rarely would you need another editing app. I’d advise you all to mess around with different angles and identify what you enjoy capturing the most. Lightroom is slightly complicated, but you can play around and work on having your very own customised presets. It’s so worth it and eventually saves time. Don’t buy presets until you’re 100% sure that they’ll actually fit your aesthetic.   You have an absolutely beautiful sense of style. How would you describe it? Thank you! I guess growing up as a Muslim girl surrounded by girls who don’t have to necessarily stick to a particular dress code was a little tough, but it’s crazy how the industry has put a lot of attention to modest clothing, and with multiple modest fashion influencers, we Hijabis got loads of inspiration to be highly fashionable but also modest. I’d describe it as bold, fearless, modest, but also unapologetically myself! My outfits fit my personality.  What are your favourite pieces in your closet? The first thing that comes to mind would be anything comfortable! I hate it when fashion can be painful – it’s so not worth it. I love my basics – a black pair of tights, jeans, and a long sleeved t-shirt. I also adore my flared denim pants and my H&M snake-print shirt dress. My recent obsession is the pair of Topshop combat boots I got. A good collection of skirts is also my absolute fave!  What do you think is the one item every girl should have in their closet? A quality pair of jeans that fit your body shape. The biggest mistake we do is follow trends, so it’s easy to be swept away with that and sometimes not all of it works for us. You need to dress according to your vibe, personality, and body shape. You need to break the rules in order to create your own!  We see that you also do reviews for restaurants. What is your favourite dish by far that you have eaten? Oh, my days! That’s not fair! But honestly speaking, my favourite dish I’ve had by far would have to be wagyu beef steak slices with this AMAZING secret mushroom sauce at Bao Kitchen at Harrods in London. Hands down, it is the one thing I’m craving constantly! So good.  We absolutely adore all your travel shots! What is your favourite country to visit? I visited the UK thrice last year so I think it’s definitely London. There’s something about that city that is so magical and wonderful that I can never get tired of. I have the love of my life living there along with one of my closest best friends. So if London is fabulous enough on its own, they make it even greater.  What has been your favourite travel experience so far? It’s definitely Estonia. For multiple reasons; firstly, that I was selected as one of the Sri Lankans with a blog to visit Estonia via its two-week journalism programme. It was the first time I ever travelled on my own all the way to Europe, and travelled in Business Class thanks to an upgrade via Turkish Airlines (my aviation YouTube friend from Australia sorted me out) and explored a brand new country all on my own with a few friends from the industry. It was surreal. It was also winter, so I also got to experience snow for the very first time! What an experience.  You seem to love what you do! But, what do you like to do in your free time?  I watch Netflix, make TikTok videos, and read. What kind of obstacles have you had to overcome as a content creator and how did you figure it out? Any tips for aspiring creators out there? Influencer marketing was only being discovered by brands and agencies in Sri Lanka when I started out. But to make money wasn’t the idea, so it didn’t affect me until I knew I had added value to my posts, and then the brands started approaching me. Unfortunately, there are still brands that look at the number of followers instead of actual ROI (return on investment) when it comes to an influencer creating content. I’d say to focus on making quality content, instead of making everything quantified, because that’s when you lose sight of the true reason you’re creating content in the first place.   PHOTOS Eutopian, Shihaam, Ruqaiyah, Sarah, Dilshan, Sophie, Renal, Farook  

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