News on Sunday

Minimalist yet bold - a cup of freshness with Katia Moochooram : “Whatever you want, if you work hard for it, you can achieve it”

The 21st century is the era of social media consumption, and whether we like it or not, we all somehow find ourselves connecting and communicating with others through these platforms.

With the social media influencer sphere expanding in Mauritius, we, a group of four Middlesex University students, reached out to Katia Moochooram for a one-to-one conversation outside of the social media realm. As a media savvy person and a one-woman band with crisp and vivid content, along with her successful collaborations and her personal projects, she inspired us to share with her followers some aspects of her that are less known. Katia Moochooram, crowned Miss Earth Mauritius in 2015, talks to us.

What do you do for a living?
I am a social media brand consultant and, in a nutshell, it means that I help brands promote what they would normally do through traditional media on social media, by communicating it in a good way. In my opinion, many brands in Mauritius, however, approach social media influencers in the wrong way. Without knowing the influencer’s values and basing themselves on the number of followers that an influencer has, is not necessarily the best approach. They don’t take the time to know the person and with the snap of a finger, they expect you to do a promotion or a photo for their brand. It is surreal.

If a project or a service really resonates with an influencer, we can then communicate on it in an engaging way, to ensure maximum outreach. My work is to portray how the social media influencer adds commercial value. In cases where I get approached by a brand not within my remit as social media consultant, I would then design an appropriate strategy and link them up with other influencers who I feel would do a better service to the brand. However, if the brand reflects my personality, then why not?   I am happy to represent it and feel privileged to be seen as the right person to convey the message.

What makes you a great influencer for Mauritians?
I don’t consider myself as an influencer per se. I have been a model for more than ten years now, this was not planned; it just happened. I learnt a lot from the experience and one thing it has definitely taught me, is what kind of visuals and optics would usually make good content. Your photo composition has to be great and compelling. My love for travelling definitely helped, too.  I don’t travel just for the sake of creating content, but living in the moment and capturing this on camera has produced a collection of my memories and how these connected with me at that particular point in time.

How does travelling inspire you and how has it changed you?
I was eighteen when I had my first solo travel. It was a trip to the UK to visit my family.

Ever since, my ensuing trips have all been equally enriching and meaningful as they’ve led me to scenic places undreamt of, made me interact with people from diverse backgrounds.  Discovering those new cultures, and what simple living is all about, has taught me some deep lessons about happiness and contentment, which are not to be found in materialism but rather rooted in simplicity. 

I am a social media brand consultant and, in a nutshell, it means that I help brands promote what they would normally do through traditional media on social media, by communicating it in a good way."

You visit a lot of places in Mauritius, do you do that for fun or for promotion?
Always for fun! People always say Mauritius is a gem, and to be honest I am yet to discover the   eastern part of Mauritius. But when I find a special spot, I always share it.  I do this because I want to grab my followers’ attention as often times, we, Mauritians, are unaware of certain places in our own country.  I am an adventurous person by definition and when I feel connected to a place, I like to capture the moment and share it.

What’s it like to be a social media influencer?
It’s a lot of pressure actually, but not one that takes a toll on you.  At the end of the day, I love to share my content and communicate and it feels great to know you are contributing to your viewers’ knowledge and their ability at making an informed opinion.  I often get messages, for instance, requesting me to repost an old post.  This is hard work, but I gladly oblige because I love sharing. 

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Wow, I don’t see myself in a year (laughs). I am someone very creative and I always have a project to work on, I can’t stay idle. For any personal project, I like to involve as many Mauritian artists as possible whenever I can. I have a couple of ideas in the pipeline. Relationship wise, I’d definitely like to settle down and have kids. Being a housewife is definitely not an option for me because I need to do something every day. Entrepreneur wise, maybe develop another business. The ideas are here, but sometimes it is very hard to just put it on paper and execute, you really need to motivate people and get them onboard. 

This year I am drawing the line with fashion and modelling unless there is someone special or a brand I would really love to represent. Fashion and modelling have never been a priority for me, it just happened to me randomly when I was 17-years-old. But I always knew it would one day stop and that would be the time for me to move on and do something different. 

How has being crowned Miss Earth Mauritius changed your life?
It is virtually impossible to have a say or make yourself heard in Mauritius if you are a simple citizen because sadly enough, this country is ruled by nepotism.  Hence what matters is not   what you know, but rather who you are connected with in the corridor of power.  But ever since I was a child, I’ve had this innate connection with people, nature and animals, so much so, that my parents felt that it had to be my calling. Hence, I have always felt the urge of doing something to help others. I never considered myself as a paragon of beauty but I entered this competition to make my voice heard. Winning it was the cherry on the cake. 

I’ve had the privilege of living one of my dreams through Miss Earth finale by attending a conference of the United Nations in Vienna. Since there were only six African countries, I got to sit on that podium to represent Africa and share my views. This experience really boosted my self-confidence, and it was a dream come true.  This has reinforced my belief that hard work really pays off big time. Everything is achievable if you work hard at it. 

If you had to name one of your biggest setbacks, what would it be?
The aspirations I had after being crowned Miss Earth Mauritius were short-lived. When I returned to Mauritius and tried to collaborate with organizations, offering to be their goodwill ambassador and using my image for that, it did not really appeal to them, not even to NGOs where I always got a standard response, “We’ll get back to you.” I was very keen though to get involved and talk about issues, educate people about them and find ways to solve them as opposed to being just a poster girl used for promotion.

We hear a lot of social or environmental institutions wanting to supposedly make a change, but when it comes down to it, there is always a hidden agenda and interest behind it. So, all the projects that I had in mind, none of them materialized. That’s when I decided that if I really want to make a change, then I will have to do it on my own. This is where I chose to use social media for a positive spin to communicate and share my views.

What is your biggest success so far?
Every project that I work on, big or small, is to me a success.  I love my small projects just as much as the rest. But if I have to mention the biggest project so far, I guess it would have to be Body by Katia M. Two months of preparation and hard work went into this. My boyfriend and I worked on this project along with a few friends. He is a professional basketball player and helped me design my workouts, as I have a knee problem and require a mindful workout routine. I am not a fitness trainer, but since my followers were asking me to post my daily workouts, I came up with this idea and it was delivered in a very engaging way. It was a free program and more than 2,000 people downloaded it; the messages and feedback I got for Body by Katia M were very positive and as a matter of fact, I have two new series of workouts, coming soon. So, watch that space! 

Can you share some advice for your followers?
I am conscious that my diverse lifestyle and blend of content are the reasons why my audience connect with me on so many levels. My advice to them is just be authentic and go out and meet people and see the real world.   Social media has the tendency to project a rosy picture of things but out there are real life stories about struggles, trials and hardships and success.  Finally, I’d say strike the right work and personal life balance and be mindful that you will also meet people who will take advantage and use you.  How you deal with this breed of individuals determines how you stand up tall in a world often run by interests and hidden agendas!  

Courtesy of Middlesex University students (Adil Baguant, Naima Meerun, Rhishma Sourindra & Shabnam Adamjee).

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