10 Questions: Aika Yokoyama
1. What does success as an influencer look like to you?
Working as an influencer full time and making a living doing what you love feels like success to me. But more importantly, you have to be true to yourself, and from that will come your unique voice and authentic content. I will only advocate for the brands I adore and work with the people I love to create with.
2. Would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?
I am definitely both. I am super shy around strangers—I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing or not, since I’m from Japan. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by crowds where I don’t know anybody around me, and it takes a lot of courage for me to say hi to someone I don’t know. In addition, the older I get, the more important my personal time is to me. Even so, I love spending time with my friends, doing crazy things, and going to events where I get to know people in the community.
3. How do you try and stand out from other people with similar followings? What makes you different?
Definitely my (ever-changing) pink hair, and my unique style that is influenced by both American and Japanese culture! As a Japanese blogger based in the US, I am already in a unique situation, which is a plus. Admittedly, I’ve sometimes had a hard time connecting with other bloggers & influencers because of that. But ultimately, I find that being yourself is important for staying relevant, because being different is actually a great thing and it makes you stand out!
4. Do you feel like blogging can provide you enough success to make a satisfactory living?
Yes and no. Yes, because it’s amazing to live your life in a foreign country you used to dream of working in, and then doing what you are passionate about. It was one of my biggest milestones last year when I won Fashion Blogger of the Year from a local digital outlet. But blogging and other social platforms are so curated that it’s really hard not to get caught up in the comparison game, making you feel like you’re not accomplishing what other people are accomplishing.
5. Who do you look to for inspiration?
My close friends, through the conversations I have with them. It’s so important to share your dreams and goals with someone you cherish, admire, and respect, and to get inspired by listening to their goals, accomplishments and stories. I also watch YouTube videos that collect the thoughts and quotes of great people, like Steve Jobs. I’m also a huge sucker for movies and manga, which actually really inspire me because they provide really encouraging life lessons.
6. What’s the hardest thing about your job?
The hardest part of my job is finding a balance with my personal life, and time management. I have no problem talking with people despite English being my second language, but when it comes to business, I’m an amateur. You also hear that being consistent is one of the keys to success, but I’m sometimes overwhelmed by the feeling that I have to post every single day. When you’re uninspired or not feeling like yourself, it’s okay to log off and recharge so that you can come back and create fresh content that comes from your heart and passion.
7. What’s your favorite image that you’ve ever taken?
OMG, this is really hard. I have tons of favorite images, but if I had to choose, I’d say my recent work with Converse x Hello Kitty. I’m not a sneaker type of girl, so I was really nervous about coming up with an outfit that went with the sneaker and fit their requirements, but also was authentically me. But I was proud of myself for how well the pictures came out, still showing off my personality.
8. Where is the influencer landscape headed—will your job exist in 5 years?
I actually have no idea; we are living in an era where the industry is constantly changing and evolving. Instagram is one of the biggest platforms right now, but you never know if a new app will take over in the next 5 years. So having your own blog is one of the best backups, because the Internet isn’t going away! Personally, I hope to expand my ability not just as a blogger & influencer, but maybe getting better at making videos or making my own brand.
9. What has being an influencer done to your self image / self confidence?
It’s helped me a lot with my self-image and self-confidence, even my self-worth. In Japan, we have high expectations on body types, like having a small face, long arms, and long legs; I was totally the opposite of that. It made me feel inferior back then. I hated being petite when I first started, but there are tons of people out there similar to my body type. I know how to pull off the outfits, and I can inspire those people by showing them how to style a piece in a way that they don’t expect at all. You don’t need to have a perfect model-like body to be an influencer. I feel like people are looking more for someone they can personally relate to. Also, I like to be open and transparent so that I can connect to my followers on a deeper level. When I shared my depression and my sadness about being away from my family, I was blown away by how much my followers appreciated my openness and courage in sharing my stories. I know that not everybody can be that open, especially on social media, but for me, it helps my self-worth a lot.
10. If someone were starting out today, what advice would you give that person?
First, to make sure that this is what you’re really passionate about. Second, that you don’t need a large following to have an influencer career—just stick to your vision and what you love. Third, make a connection with your followers and engage with them; comment back on your posts or return their likes and comments once in a while. Fourth, grow your following organically by being true to yourself and excelling at what makes you stand out from the crowd. Fifth, build a relationship with the brands that you’d like to work with. Lastly, success doesn’t happen overnight, so keep in mind that you need to be patient. You will experience rejections, frustrations, 24/7 work, and more tasks than just posting images. It’ll take a while to get to where you feel satisfied with what you do, but DON’T EVER GIVE UP!
"10 Questions" is a series where Fohr asks influencers, well, 10 questions to get to know them better.