Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)

Forbes nod of approval for Baker

Passion project took unexpected business turn for SA influencer

- LUKE FOLB luke.folb@inl.co.za

CAPE Town lifestyle blogger and influencer Aisha Baker has again proven her clout after being named on Forbes’ Africa 30 under-30 list.

The 29-year-old award-winning influencer, businesswo­man, style icon and mother was recently named as part of the list at the annual Forbes Africa Under 30 Meet up in Johannesbu­rg.

Baker has over 135000 followers on her Instagram account. In 2009, she founded the blog, “Baked the Blog”, which she later renamed “Baked Online”. She said being named had inspired her to work harder and do more.

“It’s a nod of approval that I am doing things right and headed in the right direction. Baked Online started as a passion project and became an accidental business.

“Had I known it would turn into this I would have approached things differentl­y, but I think the magic lies in the uncertaint­y of it all.

“I originally just wanted a space to express my creativity, but having studied business, monetising the platform was a natural progressio­n. I aspire to turn the blog into a multimedia platform.

“This has been my aspiration for the past five or so years – to incorporat­e e-commerce and a few brand extensions,” she said.

The blogger was named with a slew of other South Africans featured across four 30 name categories, including recent BET award-winner, Sho Madjozi and Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi.

Baker is no stranger to local and internatio­nal recognitio­n and, over the years, has been nominated for a number of awards. These include favourite African blogger at the Nickelodeo­n Kids Choice Awards and Glamour South Africa’s Glamorous Woman of the Year award in 2016.

Last year she featured on the cover of Cosmopolit­an magazine for its influencer issue and most recently she was nominated for a 2019 Global Social award in the Inspiratio­n & Influence category and won E! Entertainm­ent Africa’s Pop Culture Social Media Award.

“I think I live authentica­lly and keep it real online, amid the facade that is social media – I think that’s important. I express when things are not going my way as much as I celebrate my success reminding young people that life is not linear and there are bumps along the way.”

Baker said her advice to aspiring bloggers and young women would be to be both authentic and strategic.

“Although a lot of what I do comes naturally, it is only successful because of strategic planning,” she said.

Baker, who is married to Proteas cricketer Wayne Parnell, is also mother to 1-year-old son Khalid.

“My child really inspires me to work harder and gives me the energy I never had before. Since having him, time is more precious so I’ve learnt to work smarter.

“The same can be said about my marriage. My husband is a crucial support system for me and he allows me to work at my full potential with constant reminders and validation when I’m heading to a point of giving up,” said Baker.

In March she launched the Millennial Mama Seminar series in collaborat­ion with the Early Learning Foundation, a non-profit organisati­on that focuses on educating the Montessori teaching philosophy to potential teachers.

The aim is to educate as many teachers as possible to improve the education of children.

Baker is in the UK, where her family lives for part of the year due to Parnell’s cricketing commitment­s, and she sees it as an opportunit­y to expand her business.

“I am working on spreading the brand globally across the UK and Europe. I’m also working on a summer capsule collection as a brand extension of Baked.

“I’ve tried to extend the brand for years and I finally have the right team together to do it. We are also celebratin­g the ten-year anniversar­y of Baked Online with an event later this year,” she said.

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