Mona Farzam runs the popular YouTube channel Mona Mode, where she features beauty and fashion reviews in addition to topical videos. Currently based in Vienna, Mona got an early start as a television presenter and later transitioned into blogging and social media. You can follow Mona on Instagram @themonamode or on YouTube, to name a few.
As a teen, you were a TV presenter… Can you tell us what led to that opportunity and describe the moment you realized that you were an influencer?
So, I’ve got such a funny background. Academically I went to law school when I was a teenager I did some tv presenting to like the Menna region and stuff and I really enjoyed it and I always liked being on TV and talking and meeting different people. I also got to like write my own scripts and everything it was so much fun. From there it just kind of led to blogging and YouTube and social media.
You took a break from YouTube last year and you opened up with your audience about the absence. Now that you’re back, how have you changed your approach to creating your video content?
So, a long time ago I was creating videos and they were just kind of sporadic. I just made videos because I felt like it, I didn’t do any research, I had no idea what working with clients was, I was quite young I started YouTube about twenty-one. So, my videos were like all over the place and I just talked about random things but out of it I grew an audience and I thought it was amazing how people actually, you know, they actually were waiting for my videos.
It got too much for me. I went to university, my parents were kind of pushing for me to go to law school and become a lawyer and for me that was my dream at the time and then I realized I was very creative and passionate and I just kind of wanted to follow the field of social media. So, from there I was like, you know what, this is getting too much I’m going to give myself a break so I stopped doing YouTube and I got loads of messages.
I was still active on my Instagram I had a lot of people asking me why did you stop blah blah blah and it was just too much so I released a video, a makeup video actually not even a coming back video it was just a makeup video with a blogger friend of mine people are like wait what where’s the explanation this is so confusing, so yeah. So, then I made a video about like anxiety and mental health and like being on camera and I sort of touched base and really went deep in there and explained how I felt about social media, how there was pressure but I also sort of highlighted the joys that I had and how I missed it and how I wanted to be back. I wanted to connect with everyone, connect with brands.
You’re based in the UK, of Kurdish descent and fluent in English and Arabic. With this diverse background, do you provide unique content tailored to different regions or do you find commonalities as it comes to your audience around the globe in terms of interest?
Actually, to answer your question I was born and raised in Sweden, we moved to Canada for a year, and we moved to the UK. Currently I’m in Vienna for a short time I don’t know how long maybe six months, maybe a year I’m here for some non-related social media opportunities but I am Kurdish my parents speak Arabic so they actually fled Iraq in the war and they taught me Arabic. So, I speak Arabic, I speak English, currently learning a little bit of German so I relate to both the Middle Eastern audience and Europe and the West.
The other day just out of curiosity I was lingering on my Instagram and I had a look at my audience and apparently, I have a large audience in Tunisia which I had no idea about, so yeah. Most of my audience in the UK, I’ve got some in American, North America, Canada, kind of all over the place and it’s just nice to know that people over the world are like watching you, it feels weird.
What is your favorite social platform to use? Do you prefer video or image-centric content?
I actually prefer YouTube and I think that touches base with my TV presenting history. I just feel like you can actually read the body language of the person better, you know, you can see what they are talking about, you get their vibe. Whereas with images it can appear in a negative light in the sense that you look like you’ve got the perfect life, you know, I choose what I want to put whereas with YouTube you can tell if I’m having a bad day or if I’m having a good day.
For me I’d always choose YouTube and I’m really trying to get back into YouTube. I’ve made a whole list now of all these videos that I want to have and I want to put up Austrian videos on like trying Austrian foods while I’m here for the short time.
What has been your favorite brand partnership to-date?
My favorite brand hands-down has been smooth skin. They are a hair removal company that you can do at home so it is like a little machine that you use. They have been an absolute gem to work with. Honestly, I went to their award show in London and there were so many celebrities and loads of people it was amazing and they invited me to go as a blogger and it was such a good opportunity.
Definitely my favorite brand. After that I also worked with another company called, Hairwow it’s like a hair straightening company. And it’s one of those things where you see it on TV it’s like buy it now and your hair gets really straight and you think ah I don’t really need that but it actually worked so that was cool, so yeah.
Have you had any “awkward” requests from brands that clearly demonstrate that they didn’t do their research before pitching you?
I mean I had someone ask me to do shoe modeling and I was like with “my feet showing” and they were like “yeah” and I was like “I don’t think you have the right person”. I’m happy to promote shoes but like they were like kind of sexy shoes it just was very awkward.
What are some of your goals as an influencer for the remainder of this year, into next?
Because I’ve always been balancing a full-time job so after graduating law school I did like loads of different jobs and random things, marketing. I never really found myself in a truly happy place because I wasn’t actually pursing my passion but obviously had to pay the bills. So, for me I would like to be a full-time social media influencer but because the market is so saturated now there’s so many people that do it.
For me I would like to bring in my entrepreneurial side that I don’t think has been very prevalent on my social media. I’m like obsessed with the show, The Apprentice. I’ve always wanted to start a business and I think through social media, through working with all these big brands if I build a bigger name for myself that’s the way I can release a product and be like hey guys this is my, I don’t know, t-shirt company or whatever. And I do have an idea that I am hopefully working on. It’s a unique makeup tool that doesn’t exist right now so we’ll see how that goes.