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6 steps to let go of your emotional baggage

Goodbye baggage ... Hello life !!

Who needs baggage anyway?!


Going through life lugging all your past experiences and carefully molded judgements about how things should be is a very heavy burden for anyone to carry.


In my case, I felt the true weight of all my mental dispositions as soon as I crossed into my 30s. It’s like I magically adopted a whole new set of worries, responsibilities and added pressures.


“If I don’t get my s*@t together now, it will never happen!” I told myself in a panic. As I pushed against the onslaught of social expectations, I felt like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders.


It only recently dawned on me that this was all very much a self-inflicted and I was the only one who could give myself permission to let it go. So I decided to put down my emotional baggage on the floor, walk away and be done with it.


If I don’t get my s*@t together now... it will never happen !

Here are the things that I found most helpful along my journey. It’s time to start the next phase of your life with a new liberated sense of self and lighter perspective.


Get good quality sleep! Have you ever heard of a little saying that goes, “there will be enough sleeping in the grave”? Well I did…and during my university days to make matters worse. I adopted Benjamin Franklin’s words as my motto throughout my undergraduate years. Sleeping became the antithesis of cool and its importance was completely lost on me.  But I learnt never underestimate the power of sleep. Regulating my sleeping habits, finding out the minimum hours I need and making sure that both my mind and my body are getting their required rest made, by far, the biggest difference in my life.

Monitor your thoughts: This is a very difficult one to master. But you’d be shocked at what you have gotten into the habit of automatically thinking and the random things you go about telling yourself throughout the day. Meditation and positive affirmations are examples of different methods used to monitor your thoughts, but strongly believe that best way to gauge what goes on in your mind is through your emotions. Pay attention to them and intently create new and empowering patterns.

Identify your vices: Be honest with yourself. Sit down and list them one by one. Identifying them is always the first step to releasing them. Get clear on what they are, how they are weighing you down and why you are still holding on to them. Only then can you assess whether it’s worth keeping them in your life.

Unclutter – First mentally and then physically: Now that you are more in tune with your thought patterns and vices, you can start discarding all the unnecessary ones and simplify your outlook on life. Decluttering your physical environment goes hand in hand with this step, whether it’s your home or your office. I’m not recommending that you become a green minimalist. But we have a tendency to hold on to things for sentimental value, or “just in case”, which usually end up being good for nothing but collecting dust. Leave room for creativity to enter your life by letting go of things that no longer serve you.

Embrace your temple: By temple, I mean your body, and by body, I mean your physical health as well as your personal judgments about your figure. Your mental mind frame does not exist in a vacuum. It is directly affected by how you physically feel, which in turn affects your self-image. Put your inner critic to rest and instead embrace activities that get you on friendly terms with your body. It could be as simple as going for a massage, dancing or experimenting with different fashion styles just for the fun of it.

Make a self promise: Yes. Keeping a promise that you made to yourself with yourself is just as important as the ones you made with other people. Yet, we tend to hold ourselves less accountable for them – hint, the number of new year resolutions that banished by the time February kicked in. Making a promise to yourself and holding it in high regard increases your level of awareness, self-belief and overall happiness. Replace old baggage with new habits that inspire you. One simple promise a month is all it takes. You’ll find that everything else naturally falls into place as you do this and the load just keeps getting lighter.


Your thoughts?

The difference between a blogger and an influencer

No two words are thrown around more frequently in Dubai’s job market than “blogger” and “influencer”, but did you ever stop to question what exactly is the difference between the two? What qualifies someone entry into the blogger world and bestows on someone else the title of influencer?


As fascinating as it once was, a blogger has now become an entry level gig in Dubai. If you want to exist in the world as a self-sufficient entity and be recognized by multinational corporations and publications, you need to have your own blog or two (the more the merrier).


All that bloggers have to do is freely express who they are, have a clearly defined theme and be consistent with their posts… forever! There is no such thing as overexposure in the world of social media it seems, so once you choose a pattern, just stick to it.


Since there are practically no barriers to entry into the blogger market, all you really have to have is a clear communication strategy and time. Add a unique message and a logo to all that and what you get is… voilà… followers!

So how do we make sense of it all? What defines the hierarchy of the blogging domain?

The more followers and readership you wrack up the more legit you become. Moreover, blogging is no longer limited to just a page on your own website, as a matter of fact, you barely have to write anything at all to be qualified as a successful blogger. Just string together a few emojis with a couple of words weaved between them to caption the slew of images and videos you share on the social media platform of your choice and that’ll do the job.


But there is a hierarchy to it all, and you can’t blog about anything and everything, you have to pick your niche. For example, I chose to be a fashion and lifestyle blogger, in my case, because they have been my career path and professional training since I entered the job market 12 years ago. But other bloggers can choose to pursue those same topics from a different angle and out of sheer passion, exquisite photogenic skills or intrinsic talent for creative composition.


Other choices available from the plethora of topics are food blogger, fitness blogger, luxury blogger, travel blogger, parenting blogger, design blogger, urban scene blogger, music blogger and of course, beauty blogger. (If I missed out on any please feel free to share in the comments section below.) Each topic can be further divided into subcategories, eg yoga blogger vs gym blogger.


So how do we make sense of it all? What defines the hierarchy of the blogging domain? Very simply, the number of followers you have.


If you have more than 5000 followers spread over all your social media platforms combined, whether it be one or more, in addition to your own website/page, you have officially been initiated into the world of being a blogger.


To be an influencer, however, you have to have pulling power in the market. What you wear and where you go are usually looked upon favorably, acknowledged as the latest and greatest and even purchased by a few of your followers. So by definition, an influencer is a blogger with buy-in power. In numerical terms, even if you are already influencing your followers, you are not usually perceived as an influencer by business entities till you have a minimum of 15,000 followers. Once again, this is a cumulative number throughout all your social media platforms and this time around, you need to have a minimum of two, in addition to your own website/page.


If you have the charisma and talent to have earned the loyalty of 100,000 followers or more (not bought), then you have entered the fame stratosphere! Yes, you are a celebrity in many people’s eyes and you can bank a good buck out of this blogging gig alone. At this point, it doesn’t really matter what you blog about because the subject of interest has become YOU. It’s always best to stay in one’s lane though.


The final step in the hierarchy usually requires some sort of talent, tv show or business to back it up in order to catapult and sustain its growing number of followers. The upper echelon of the blogger society secured the following of 1M and up. If you have that many followers, then it is safe to say that you are officially an icon. You are offering something to the market that is uniquely intriguing and you didn’t get there by accident. Serious work is involved here, deliberate and dedicated effort, usually lead by a team of social media specialists.


What about the Selena Gomez’s of the world with their 100M+ followers you ask? I have absolutely no words to describe this phenomenon! Your guess is as good as mine.

Starting your own fashion business: My top 7 tips

What I wish I knew as a fashion startup

When I started my Instagram account I was certain, as I told my friends, that I would not have any content to post. I was beyond camera shy, loved my privacy and never bothered to truly utilize the power of social media.


Looking at one of my latest posts, you’d certainly never think that – case in point, the above image! It took me a while to get over my shyness, and a great deal of support. One thing I did know is how to do was to identify when change is needed in order to move forward.


If my goal was to build a fashion brand, then I had to start by build a fashion image… And if I wanted to build a fashion image, I simply needed to get over my self-revered old habits, embrace new ones and get in front of that camera! In the words of Carine Roitfeld “Love zee Camerah”, (If you haven’t watched the documentary Moidmeselle C yet, kindly do so asap!)


Ralph Lauren started his entire empire by selling ties and ties only !

Now I look back and wonder how I got to be so comfortable with this world of fashion blogging? I do love fashion styling and adore fashion design, but being a Dubai fashion blogger is not a turn that I anticipated. As it turns out, it was one of the many things I had to take on if I wanted to reach my vision. What I learnt, and what I wish I knew when I stated my journey towards building a Dubai fashion business is the following:

  1. There are so many amazing designers out there and practically every single silhouette has been done. What will make your designs stand out and command attention is the story behind your brand and how relatable you, the founder, are.
  2. Never be shy or fear that you will make a mistake, because you will. Every startup that ever existed did. The key is to adapt your strategy, cut your losses and quickly change directions.
  3. Even if it doesn’t make sense to many, many, people, if it sits well with your soul, go for it. That is why you are going through this journey, to discover what can be born of your creative voice.
  4. Simplify your goals. don’t work yourself into a frenzy thinking that you want everything to be perfect from the first time around or that you want to be the next Alexander McQueen. Who needs that added pressure anyway?!
  5. Commercial sustainability is top priority! So take your time to develop your brand and work from the ground up. You only get one chance at a first impression, so rushing to just get things out the door is probably not the best idea at this stage of your development. It is not your game as a startup.
  6. Streamline your product offering. Till you can afford the risk of producing a full collection and are aware of the intricacies of the game, just specialize in one or two items. Ralph Lauren started his entire empire by selling ties and ties only! Isn’t that mind blowing? It doesn’t get more streamlined and commercially savvy that this!
  7. Be flexible with your dream. Being rigidly attached to a vision is business suicide. Try not to be too hard on yourself if you have to continuously take detours (I’m still having a tough time applying that one). I think most creative minds are their own worst critics. But there’s a fine line between pushing yourself towards growth and simply driving yourself bonkers!

Through it all, I always try to take a step back and remember that I am a part of a much bigger system that is currently molding Dubai’s creative fabric and passion-driven entrepreneurial spirit. That within itself is pretty magical.

Take this quiz & discover your creative voice!

The act of creating is a fundamental part of our nature, our natural instinct towards growth and self-exploration. We often forget the necessity of carving out the time to pursuit our creative impulse. Caught up in the daily grind, we sometimes question whether we have a creative side to us at all.

My styling shoot with Stylist Arabia celebrating some of Dubai's homegrown creative rising stars
My styling shoot with Stylist Arabia celebrating some of Dubai's homegrown creative rising stars

But we all possess that quality. The fact that it’s lying dormant waiting to be reawakened makes it even more intriguing. This presents a field of pure potentiality that has yet to be discovered. This quiz will kick start your journey towards awakening your creative voice, but the possibilities of its expression are truly infinite. Follow your bliss, the rest will fall into place.

“10 minutes with Salma Awwad” by

I was lucky enough to have been interviewed by the talented editor of, Dyana Farhat, at the Baume et Mercier collaboration with Fashion Forward.


We chatted about the inspiration behind my photoshoot, the iconic watch brand, the Dubai designers involved and what is lacking in Dubai’s fashion scene as a whole.


Find the entire interview and gallery on

What does a fashion stylist really do?

You know those pictures that you find flipping through fashion magazines that are bound to give every girl a complexity or two at a certain growth sprout of her life?


I do those pictures. Actually, that’s my job, so I get paid to do those pictures.


Notwithstanding social stigma, I try to carry my job with the highest social regard possible. After all, I entered my profession to express beauty and whimsy in an attempt to escape the seriousness of it all.


At a deeper level, style is an expression of yourself caught in a moment of time and influenced by the current socio-economic scene. Each outfit you put on comes with a different statement, and what you wear can directly influence how feel on that particular day.


There are two main types of fashion stylists, people tend to think of one or the other when the words fashion stylist spring into the conversation, but in reality, both are very viable, creatively interesting and morally inspiring distinct positions in the job market: 1- The personal fashion stylist & 2- The editorial stylist


Here, I address the meaning of being an editorial fashion stylist and what the job entails.


To my surprise, when I asked the question at my Fashion Forward Dubai workshop this year, “What does a stylist do?” silence filled up the room before one or two people reluctantly raised their hand.


The shortest answer to this question is: Anything and everything for the picture!


It does not only stop at choosing the clothes. As a fashion stylist, you become an integral part in making a complete vision come to life. An editorial fashion stylist is a storyteller, a narrator of a silent movie, who carefully brings together all the elements required to clearly portray that movie. This can be quite the daunting task. But it is certainly well worth it once you lay your eyes on the fruits of your labour as you blissfully flip through the pages of a magazine (be it print or online).


In most companies, an editorial fashion stylist is expected to handle everything from beginning to end. First step is agreeing on the theme and the direction of the shoot with the editor, then detailing how it will be brought to life through an intricately collaged mood board. Sourcing the clothes, the location, the set-up, the props, the model, the photographer as well as the hair and make-up teams and making sure that everyone is on the same page.

Anything and everything for the picture… It does not only stop at choosing the clothes!

Each step is vital to the end result and you are part of a well-oiled machine throughout the process. It is never a one-man show, unlike blogging which can be sustained with such an independent model, editorial fashion styling is always a team effort.


This fact makes having well cultivated people skills and intuition key to the success of any editorial fashion stylist. But above all, the skill that’ll get you furthest in this game is patience. Patience during the long shoots, patience in the collection of the items and all the surprises that come with it, patience as you are dealing with all the different personalities and perspectives, and patience to keep an open mind throughout the whole project, choosing to embrace discovery over quick judgement.


Because that is where the magic of this job takes place. With every shot you take and every picture you put out in this world, you learn a little bit more about the creative that lies within you.

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