Kefilwe Mabote gives us the inside scoop on how to be a successful luxury influencer in SA's dynamic social media space
With an Instagram bio that oh-so-aptly reads "Living my life like it’s Editorial," and a 613K-person (and counting) strong follower count, 28-year-old Kefilwe Mabote has become one of South Africa's most aspirational black women. Not because of her social media numbers, but because of the digital footprint she has carved out for herself.
In an industry that may sometimes appear frivolous, pretentious and as though it is characterised by short-lived success, Kefilwe who is affectionately known as Kefiboo, remains one of its most credible and admired faces.
To Kefi and other local IG content creators much like herself, being an influencer/content creator is more than just posting pictures for her online community to gush over - it's about authenticity and communicating a message to followers.
For Kefi, that message is always clear whether she's sharing childhood pictures, busting out dance moves with choreographer Takkies, enjoying a cold Coke in Soweto or walking the streets of Melbourne, Australia in Witchery threads.
What we get all from all this, as her stans, is that black opulence is not a one-dimensional image only portrayed through Paris-filtered Chanel sunglasses - it exists both ekasi and in Hyde Park, and it transcends the perception that it's "all Gucci in the hood."
There's culture, pop culture, nostalgia, and traditions attached to it.
This style maven's brand of luxury is therefore well-considered, diverse, and even fun - quite different to what her international counterparts such as Micah Gianneli may present luxury, for example.
Kefilwe Mabote and Sarah Langa Mackay in Melbourne, Australia for Witchery.
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Let’s be honest guys: Sfiso is not coming, is he? Haikhona! I’ve soaked up myself in the sun long enough??. I’m getting another can of @cocacolaza and heading straight back home or kanjani. Any loving sisterly advice? . Outfit @fabrosanz Hair styled @lucys_beautysalon Shot by @aust_malema #EnjoyTheFeeling #CokeThreads
READ MORE: Is Africa ready to be a luxury fashion hub?
We got in touch with Kefi on her return from Australia with Witchery, with fellow style star Sarah Langa. The pair visited the Witchery Head Office for an exclusive brand immersion, where they met the design team and gained first-hand knowledge on what’s to come this season with the brand.
This is why I had to hear from the award-winning horse's mouth on how to make it in the influencer industry that seems to slowly be eclipsing celebrity stardom.
This is what Kefilwe Mabote was more than happy to share:
A few people have now started differentiating between the terms “influencer” and “content creator” - which do you prefer to identify as? Why?
I identify myself as both a content creator and influencer. As a content creator, I work with my team to come up with creative ideas for campaigns and, as an influencer, my job entails getting brand names out there by promoting their products or services.
How do you balance social media being both work and “play” for you? Or do the two overlap for you?
I have an overwhelming passion for curation, which is essentially a process that involves following my inner compass. There is no need to worry about balancing things when you are following your inner compass. In fact, the balance just happens automatically.
What does the creative process of each themed photoset you post entail?
Well, it depends on what my creative team and I have conceptualised. Whatever the concept we come up with and agree on determines the creative process. So it’s not something that’s fixed.
How do you choose the brands and fellow creatives you align with?
I check to see if their brands’ values are aligned with my brand’s value. If our values are congruent, that’s what essentially determines whether we can have a working relationship or not.
How does one go about cultivating an image on social media the way you have successfully done so for yourself?
It’s all about working hard, being consistent, and above everything else loving what you do.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to rebrand their digital footprint?
Start with your WHY? Most people do things for the wrong reasons. So ask yourself why you want to rebrand your digital footprint in the first place. Is it for the fame, money, or pure passion?
For micro influencers on the come-up, what advice would you give them about ensuring they don’t get taken advantage of by brands?
They should know their worth and keep educating themselves. When you know your worth and how this industry works, no one can take advantage of you.
How important is transparency in the influencer space?
Transparency is not as important as authenticity in this industry. As influencers, we are building digital communities, and all these people are looking up to us not only for inspiration but for advice too. So being trustworthy is key. Besides, people can sense it when you are not being genuine.
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ICON COMPETITION continues ??! This goes to all aspiring talented fashion designers. 1. You need to put a quiz together and name the ICON I’m impersonating. 2. Mention the ICON’s favorite creature. 3. The Creator of the winning caption will stand a chance to meet @orapelengmodutle who made my outfit for a mentoring session. 4. Lastly, you must be following myself and @orapelengmodutle . QUIZ: Put the ICONS famous quote to make sense: “TACKY STAGE IS THE LAST TRENDY BEFORE”. #Good luck ! Hair @lajawihair Make up @clarabanx Ray Ban sunnies @peersfisher Shot by @aartverrips_official #KefiIconicDiaries
Sometimes brands script content for their influencer campaigns – how important is it to you that you always remain authentic by adding your own voice?
I only work with brands that allow me the space I need to exercise my creative freedom. Of course, I have to listen to their objectives first and make sure that I’m absolutely crystal clear about them. I’m a creative, after all. And freedom is very important to me.
Do you think it’s possible to influence across genres (fashion, beauty, travel, fitness etc) and still be impactful?
Absolutely! Throughout my career I have fused beauty with fashion, fashion with travel, fashion with automobiles, [and so on]. However, you have to make sure that you’re true to your brand values in all your infusions.
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All a girl needs is to be Smart! @Smartwater_za is my partner in crime. I take it with me everywhere I go to keep hydrated at all times. So be Smart, drink #SmartWaterZa ?? #Inspiredbytheclouds #SmartHydration #SmartBecauseItsMadeThatWay #Sponsored . ?? @softsquare_productions
How does one ensure longevity with their influencer career?
If you love what you do, you don’t have to ensure longevity. For instance, fashion is my passion. It would still be my number one passion even if it wasn’t my career/profession.
What is it about your personal brand that you don’t compromise on at all?
Authenticity. Being true to myself is something I can’t compromise on at all.
Who inspires you?
Nomzamo Mbatha - even though we work in different fields - influences me a lot. Her energy and drive inspire me so much, especially given the fact that we are the same age. She pushes really hard and never allows anyone to put her down. I really admire that about her.
Kefi on trends & cosmetics
What is your signature autumn/winter look?
Socks and heels, check suits, white ankle boots, pastel power suits, and [logo] statement bags.
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As we move into winter, @witcheryfashion has a perfect collection for this new season. What I really like about this new collection is the clean “wear to work” outfit options that one can choose from and the stylish layering of each outfit which still maintains a more urban look. . Shot by @killastillz #WitcheryStyle
What is the one item you think everyone should own this season?
A statement coat, a blanket wrap scarf, turtleneck top, leather jacket. Plus, a pair of ankle boots and thigh high boots.
Do you have a go-to winter fragrance you love? What is it?
Tom Ford Noir De Noir Parfums - It has rich feminine florals and the masculine earthiness of black truffle, vanilla, patchouli, oud wood, and tree moss add a warm sensuality to this dark chypre oriental which automatically makes me feels warm.
What’s your one style secret no one knows about you?
A chef never shares their best cook recipe.
(I tried to put you on with that question, ladies).
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