Not your average girl-next-door, Los Angelas based Malaysian Heidi Nazrudin, has secured a high position of fashion’s list of digital influencers with her blog; The Ambitionista. Azza Arif caught up with the globe-trotter in Milan (where Heidi had collaborated with Marie Claire Malaysia online during Fashion Week) to talk about how she turned her passion for fashion into an ever-expanding business.
Just a few short years ago, Heidi Nazarudin decided to move from investment banking into blogging, launching her digital portal The Ambitionista. She hasn’t looked back since. Now, the 35-year-old isn’t just a successful online personality, she is also the creative director and consultant to various brands, out to conquer the world in style.
How did it all begin for you? I just wanted to write about fashion. It just happened that 6-7 years ago, fashion blogs were also gaining popularity and I had started writing about fashion on other people’s blog. I liked sharing my thoughts on fashion as well as about my life as a working woman so I guess you can say it started from there.
What sets The Ambitionista apart ? I think it’s the fact that it’s a fashion blog focused towards sophisticated and successful women. I think my typical reader is just like me—she is strong, sophisticated and stylish, and would like to see content that adds to her life like how to choose a power suit for a board meeting, or a great hotel for vacation that also allows you to get some work done efficiently. I never want to post things like 12 Looks That Would Make Him Fall For You. The Ambitionista reader is the type that, if she wanted the guy to notice her, would ask the guy out and charm him with sparkling conversation.
At what point did you realise The Ambitionista is more than just a hobby? When I was making as much money from the blog as I did from freelance writing.
What kind of content do you feel is most popular? There are two kinds of content that seem to really resonate with our readers—how to appear more powerful or be seen more like a leader , and also any sort of content that helps to resolve conflicts. I think, as working women, these are two issues that we always seem to come across—how to be seen as a leader and conversely, how to handle workplace bullies. As for fashion posts, readers really want to know how to translate runway trends at work or in a conservative real-life setting.
What style rules do you stick to? Hmm, the more I am exposed to fashion the more I believe there are no rules. I think style is very personal and unique. As long as you feel confident and good in whatever you’re wearing—go out and get it. I also believe in not getting stuck in a rut, its important to always try new things, after all, in fashion, if you dont like it, you can always take it off.
Tell us about your style At Fashion Week I am definitely more adventurous. I am lucky as nowadays, I get to pull from a lot of amazing designers and, therefore, get to wear a lot of clothes I normally don’t have access to. I tend to experiment more —wear a white cape over a white trench coat? Sure. Or Swarovski-encrusted rainbow-coloured boots? Why not? These are not things I’d wear normally but its good to get out of your comfort zone. Being creative helps me discover new ways to wear everyday clothes too— which I can then write about on the blog.
Five top tips for discovering individual styles
- Remember that form must always follow function. Assess your work environment and position. If you are an architect living in a tropical country and you are always whizzing from construction sites to client meetings, your style should allow you to do your work effortlesstly. Perhaps chunkier heels or even beautiful designer sneakers instead of dainty stilettos to allow for mobility, and 3/4 length sweaters , culottes and sleeveless vests or blazers are more ideal.
- It’s all about baby steps. I think extreme makeovers are not easy and are a shock to most people. I had a reader who told me she wanted to start wearing bright colours but didn’t know how and she was afraid people would laugh at her. So I told her, start with bright nail polish on her feet, then graduate to bright manicures and then bright lipsticks. Then, she started wearing bright tops. I follow her on Instagram and the last time I checked, she’s wearing a brightly hued DVF dress to work.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things. I sometimes try in department stores just to see how I look in them. Sometimes I’m surprised by how I look in them
- Have a core style palette. For me, basic pieces—tailored culottes, striped oxford shirts, silk tie neck blouses, blazers, vests and tailored coats. I also know I gravitate towards blacks, whites, camel and jewel colours. So when I buy something I always ask, does this piece add and complement my wardrobe?
- Dont worry too much about trends. At any given time, there are 20 different trends that are so ‘right now’. But a lot of trends will disappear as quickly as they appear. They also might not be right for your body type . So don’t worry about trends. Focus on whether you can see yourself wearing something over and over.
Do you have any outfit regrets? I have a million outfit regrets. Nothing too crazy but sometimes what I wear when photographed just looks wrong. There was this one time when I wore a beautiful white dress with a swarovski encrusted headband that looked beautiful in real life but someone took a photo of it and I looked like I was attending a Star Trek convention.
Best style advice given to you. Always make sure things fit you perfectly. I send about 60-70% of my clothes to be altered.
What city is the most stylish Tokyo, hands down. No matter what style the Japanese women are going for—whether European preppy, trendy , boho and even yes, harajuku style, they do it all amazingly well.
What is your next purchase My one big purchase for winter is this Max Mara’s sequined sweater. I think its just the right balance of casual and chic that I’d wear it everywhere. I am also looking forward to Spring—I saw Versace’s embellished platform sandals during fashion week and can’t wait to rock those instead of heels soon.
How big is your wardrobe? To be honest, I have converted a whole room to become my closet and I have also given a lot of stuff to my sister for safekeeping. But my excuse is I work in fashion and I live between LA, NYC and KL so I need clothes for all kinds of weather and all kinds of events, all the time! To keep things under control, I actually have a visual inventory so I know what I have too much of, and what I need more of. Before this, I would end up accidentally buying duplicates of an item. After realising I had five v-neck black sweaters one day, I knew I had to have a system.
Biggest Fashion Week mishap I’ve attended many fashion weeks so I tend to be quite prepared. When I first went to my first Fashion Week, I made the mistake of wearing these new pair of stilettos. I was limping within 2 hours (and I still had 3 more shows to go!) By the end of the day I had blisters all over my feet and could not wear anything but these flip flops for the next 2 days. Lesson learnt— always wear shoes you can walk in. Oh, I also do a ‘flash photography’ check with whatever I am wearing. Sometimes makeup looks weird on camera and clothes can inexplicably see through.
Most ridiculous thing you have bought online Ahh yes, the late night online purchase fiasco— I saw this black dress on eBay that had cute pink tiny pom poms dangling on it. On the model (who was probably a size 0) it looked really cute and whimsical. When I got it (and I am a size 6) it looked like a school crafts project gone wrong. It was a good thing I could return it.
If you could be a cartoon character, who would it be and why? When I was growing up I was obsessed with Jem from Jem and The Holograms. So anything from her closet is fine with me. She made the 80s look good even in giant pink hair, bold eye makeup and power shoulders. I’d rather turn heads than disappear into the crowd.
Where is home and what do you do when you are not working? I live in Los Angeles by the beach and i love the city. But I travel to NYC and KL often. When I am not working I spend the time taking care of myself and relaxing. I put on a face mask of some sort and watch Netflix. I also love just going out for a simple dinner and a walk by the beach.
Your thoughts on the future of bloggers It’s not so
much that blogs are no longer relevant, it’s more that it has evolved and that standards are much higher now. Most professional bloggers now have a team of people working on their blogs, from editors, graphic designers and social media managers including myself. Our images are of very high quality. And the blog, as it grows, is becoming more like a portal of information. Social media is great and I love how easy it is to reach out to readers and followers using Instagram or Facebook but for solid information readers go back to the blog.
Your style icon I am obsessed with Victoria Beckham’s
sense of fashion. Perhaps one day I can convince her to
give me a closet tour to blog about! That would be a dream come true.
Photos: Chris Milo,Fashion Editor:Azza Arif, Hair: Daniel Manzini @MKS, Make Up: Elenora Juglair @MKS, Outfirs: Christian Dior, Shoes: Model’s own, Location: Milan