The Atlanta-based influencer Kiitan Akinniranye is a name you should have on your radar. Especially if you are interested in beauty, travel and lifestyle topics. Kiitan started her career as an influencer back in college. While studying for the MCATs, she used blogging as a creative outlet and found her path through sharing personal hair journey and opening up about her skin insecurities during her time in medical school.
Kitan is now the founder of headwrap company. Atarah Avenue and has successfully partnered with high-profile brands to create content. BGN conducted an interview with Kiitan via email about what led her to become an online community builder, advice she has for creators and her most challenging moments as an entrepreneur.
What inspired you to start creating travel content? Tell us how that led you to being a community builder.
I’ve always loved to travel. I moved to the US when I was 7 years old, so I started my travel journey at a very young age! My household was very Nigerian but I also grew up experiencing life in America. I think navigating these two very different cultures sparked my curiosity to see even more of the world. Every time I step foot in a new country, I’m always in awe of how much more there is than the life I know. Sharing what I find brings me great joy and I’m happy people are connecting to what I have to say.
In the 10 years you’ve been a content creator, what changes in your community have you experienced?
I feel like the world of content creation is constantly changing. Honestly, sometimes it’s hard to keep up! When I first started, it was really all about branding and consistency. You needed to show up and make it clear what you provided to your community. Now, I think creativity and entertainment are major driving forces. I still have to be consistent and I still need to have a clear brand but there are so many people with amazing things to say, so you have to find a way to stand out and keep your community invested.
Define your content in three words.
Colorful, Bold, Inspirational
In the age of social media as more of these platforms grow and we stay pegged to them as users, how do you suggest we maintain a healthy work/life balance?
I’m really intentional about my screentime. It can be challenging because social media is my work, so I schedule work time to be online, time when I can unwind and scroll on my feeds and time where my phone is put away. I also highly recommend doing periodic social media fasts. It’s really nice to unplug sometimes.
When you’re not traveling or making content, what do you do to unwind/relax?
I love game nights! Playing games with my sister or a group of friends is probably one of my favorite things to do. I also love watching cheesy holiday movies. The cheesier they are, the better!
Tell us what you do when you may feel uninspired or experience a creative block?
When I feel uninspired I try to step away from my work or project to give myself time to think. I try to pray or meditate in those moments and when I can, do something fun to get my mind off of the work so I can come back with a fresh perspective.
How important is social media to you in an age where “incessant notifications or pressure to constantly create” make it challenging to keep things quiet?
This space can get very overwhelming, consuming and burnout is very real. I realize how important Finding time to quiet my mind and unplug is. Meditation on the word has been a huge help to counteract the fast-paced and continuous nature of being a content creator and our current time. I now have scheduled times in my routine to do just that.
What advice do you have for creators who originally cultivated their platform by things that brought them joy, but now may feel compelled to be glued to their devices?
If you’re not working from a place of joy that is going to come through in your work and eventually you’ll either lose interest or lose yourself. It can be really hard not to give into social pressure to constantly be creating, but it’s really important to find balance and do things in your real life that spark joy and can translate to the content you’re creating.
Youv’e done and seen a lot. What inspires and/or grounds you these days?
My faith is really important to me and keeps me grounded, and my friends and family are amazing and inspire me daily.
What has been the most challenging moment for you as an entrepreneur?
There have been moments where I lost myself in content creation and didn’t feel connected to the person on my screen. I had to do a lot of internal work to get back to what I love about social media and why I started creating content in the first place. Rediscovering myself and my voice has been the best decision I’ve made for my career.
Given your line of work and other interests, what are three things our reader may be surprised to learn you can’t live without and why?
I don’t talk about this much but iced coffee. Need I say more? I love a good book. I’ve always been someone who reads a lot and ever since I discovered audiobooks, I’ve been able to get through so many more African authors. Definitely a Game changer. I also love being connected with my family and friends. I use Xfinity Wifi to make sure I’m always keeping up with what they’re up to and always just a phone call or facetime away.
You’re a bonafide travel pro—give us the scoop, what city needs to be on our Black Girl Nerds Bucket List and why?
To be honest, anywhere on the African continent will always have my heart and since I’m Nigerian, I would have to say somewhere in West Africa: Lagos and Accra are amazing and should be on everyone’s bucket list.
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Jamie Broadnax is the creator of the online publication and multimedia space for Black women called Black Girl Nerds. Jamie has appeared on MSNBC's The Melissa Harris-Perry Show and The Grio's Top 100. Her Twitter personality has been recognized by Shonda Rhimes as one of her favorites to follow. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association and executive producer of the Black Girl Nerds Podcast.