In business, we often talk about “well-rounded” professionals who can always see the bigger picture. Xenia Tchoumi is that businesswoman.
Armed with an entrepreneurial spirt, a degree in economics and a passion for educating others, Xenia turned down a lucrative job at JP Morgan to become a global brand and a business in her own right.
Xenia has worked with the likes of ELLE, IWC and Dior and she has given TED Talks and presented to the United Nations. She now over 8 millions followers on social media, works as a fashion influencer, face of brands, public speaker and as a UN’s International Trade Centre ambassador.
We caught up with Xenia to discuss successfully navigating the world of marketing and what feminism means to her and her business.
What advice would you have for business leaders looking to get involved in the digital influencer movement? How and why do you think they should invest in this kind of online talent over perhaps more traditional forms of advertising?
First and foremost to get digitally literate, or hire someone who is. For example, not only do I promote fashion brand’s products on my social pages, but I do digital consulting on the side for the very same brands as not all of them have the right expertise in-house.
The digital marketing sphere is an ever evolving area, and there is no university for it. You have to learn day by day as the trends and the algorithms of these platforms often change. Only someone who is hands on, on a daily basis, can spot these changes and understand social media marketing inside-out.
I definitely advice all brands and businesses to jump on this train before it’s too late. Promoting your business online not only is cheaper, but it often also has a bigger reach. You can get precise analytics down to location and the age of who’s watching and who’s interested in your product. Then again, I’m not against traditional advertising, but trends are now born and shared online (mainly by influencers) before anywhere else. Why allocate budget elsewhere?
How did you get involved with TED Talks? Talk us through that journey.
I have been doing quite a lot of public speaking in the past few years about how to create a digital business or how to become an online brand. So, because of that, TEDx called me to speak about my journey. I wanted to share my experiences of what it means to be a self made woman in the digital sphere.
I think it’s very important to tell people that it’s do-able, it’s possible to have a career online. If you want to be heard and respected for who you are, you can do this by having a voice on the internet. It was wonderful, and I am working closely with the organisation for the next surprise..
What does feminism mean to you and do you think that gender imbalance in the professional world is still a huge issue?
As a kid I never thought that I can or cannot do something just because I’m a girl. Growing up I encountered more and more of this “you can’t do it cause you’re a woman” mentality. This got me shocked at first, frustrated later. I still am that kid that sees limitless possibilities for boys and girls likewise and it’s one of the subjects that touches me the most.
That’s how I’ve become a UN ambassadress of the ITC’s SheTrades.com - an organisation that empowers women in business to find trading partners across the world. We’re now at more than 800,000 women and it is completely free to enroll, spread the word!
Where do you see the future of the digital influencer market heading? Do you think we are perhaps reaching saturation point?
Towards more substance, credibility and transparency. As an influencer if you are paid to promote a product, it’s better if you disclose it. You should only promote something if it fits your brand and your values. The goal should not be to just make quick money.
Longevity in the market is directly linked to organic growth and protection of your own core values. Then the same the other way around - if you are a brand, choose ambassadors that can stick to your message for longer than a couple of posts.
What have been the most unusual projects you have worked on in your career?
Definitely working with Cash & Rocket. I drove a fast car with only a few brief stops from London to Paris, Lyon, Milan and Cannes in 5 days to raise money along the way and create physical & digital awareness around three African charities. Around 70 women from the fashion and art’s fields were involved, and we rocked it.
What challenges have you faced in your career so far?
Switching careers (or “pivoting”) is always challenging. I went from being a personality in Switzerland, to trying my way in finance to becoming a digital entrepreneur. Each step comes with quite a lot of uncertainty and soul-searching. However taking the leap into something new and that you are passionate about is always worth it.
Enjoy reading this interview with influencer Xenia Tchoumi? Then find out more about her and her brand here.
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