Social media even though is taking a lot of space in people’s lives at least the people at the age of 15 to 35, unfortunately, doesn’t receive the respect it deserves… influencers who make this a career are exposed to irregular interests of the brands and the individuals with the “I can do that too.” culture in our country. Is it that hard to accept change? Or to appreciate someone’s success…Examining this journey that seems easy on the outside but is carrying the heaviness of creating content on the inside with Duygu Özaslan is like going onto a journey upon the professionalization of being an influencer in our country… Our journey is accompanied by the traders of an iconic location for this profession; Nişantaşı! 

How did you start?

Duygu Özaslan: For about 6 years ago, I was studying Spanish Language and Literature and I realized that I am anxious about what will I do when I graduate like everyone else. I didn’t want to be a teacher or a translator. In my junior year, I got into a fashion magazine as an intern and I wanted to do something about the fashion and beauty industry.

When did you get into beauty?

Duygu Özaslan: I started to write on the beauty section of the magazine. I wasn’t someone who was good at makeup. In fact, I learned everything I know from international Youtube channels that were popular at the time. Yes, I had a certain taste, I followed trends, but I learned the application part from those channels. I’ll admit, when I look back at those times, I too think it is a miracle that I can do makeup like this now.    

Duygu Özaslan
Mayo/Bodysuit: HAKAAN YILDIRIM
Bel çantası/ Belt Bag: BURBERRYPantolon/Trousers: MARQUES ALMEIDA / V2K
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How did you discover yourself?

Duygu Özaslan: My close girlfriends always asked me questions about style. What should I buy? How should I style them? Part of me was always aware that I had a taste which is approved by other people. I realized how informative it was when I was putting everything I learned from foreign channels into practice. With the motivation my circle gave me, I was like, “I will start a channel”. Of course, back in those times, the Youtube community was not as big as it is now. Youtubers who have 10 million subscribers now only had around 5-10 k back then.        

What was your first video?

Duygu Özaslan: My first video was a makeup tutorial, but I couldn’t film it. I forgot to press play because I was so nervous. Actually, when you think of it, it is a miracle that I am here! (Laughs). Then I filmed a “2013 Favourites” video and it became the first video I uploaded. When looking back at it, I could see all the hesitations, anxieties I had. I took my years to find myself in front of the camera.

We all grove up, but you can see all of the phases of your recent past?

Duygu Özaslan: Of course, a lot changed about me since I was 22 years old. But it weird it’s that it is all recorded. People forget about the process of growing up or the people you met only know about things you let them know. But there are more than 500 videos about my life uploaded on the internet. In retrospective, there are a lot of things I criticize about myself. I can clearly see my immaturity and naiveness.    

Mont/Coat, Polo Shirt, Etek/Skirt, Ayakkabı/Shoes: BURBERRY Kemer/Belt: ACADEMIA / BEYMEN Gözlük/Sunglasses: CHLOE
Mont/Coat, Polo Shirt, Etek/Skirt, Ayakkabı/Shoes: BURBERRY Kemer/Belt: ACADEMIA / BEYMEN Gözlük/Sunglasses: CHLOE

What was your breaking point?

Duygu Özaslan: When I uploaded my first video, only 600 people watched it. Most of them were people I don’t know who somehow found me. I had my Instagram account around the same time as Youtube and there wasn’t a lot of people following me Instagram either. My subscribers were my friends and maybe their friends and I took courage from knowing I could reach to the people I don’t know, they enjoy my contents. There wasn’t a sudden change or a certain breaking point, in fact, it took me 2 years to reach 100 k subscribers.

When did Youtube become a job for you?

Duygu Özaslan: I didn’t start this job for the money. In fact, I didn’t even know you could make money off of it. Now, people who want to do this job has high expectations economically. And this motivation is not something that lasts.

What was your motivation?

Duygu Özaslan: My motivation was to turn this thing into a career. This wasn’t a job back then. Youtube Turkey was just opened and I was one of the first partners. A lot of brands made their first projects with me. I was actually a step in it becoming a career. This so special for me and I am glad that it happened. Isn’t both being influencer and pioneer is about setting the trends. Making something that is not seen as a job was a very big step for me. I was a young girl in her junior year of college.

Why do you think you were chosen?

Duygu Özaslan: I was myself and different at the same time. There was a lot of people like me in other countries but not in Turkey. It is precious to be someone who is good at expressing themselves and being honest about a lot of things. Boyfriend or a bikini pic, these are not the things that ordinary people can share easily.

The key point here is confidence

Duygu Özaslan: Everything is about confidence and freedom. There are girls who are much prettier than me. There are girls who are better at makeup than me, but all this makes sense only when they are together.

Is family factor important when it comes to being free?

Duygu Özaslan: In the beginning, my family was not so supportive either. But it is important that you are honest with your family because your content can consist of information about your personal life. I have never lied to my family in my 28 years of life. That’s why I had no drawback. I was in college at the time and my family had a hard time believing me.

How was your relationship with the school?

Duygu Özaslan: I dropped out of school during my senior year. But it was not like I was so busy, and I just quit. I was already starting this job to have an alternative to school and to have a career. I knew that I wasn’t going to do something with my degree, I dropped out because I wanted to. I could definitely continue I wanted to. I wasn’t feeling happy there and being happy is the most important thing in my life. I always pursue that.

You dropping school and starting to realize Youtube is career has happened at the same time. Can tell us that process? You have to make money in order to accept it as a job.

Duygu Özaslan: How much you make on Youtube is a personal experience. There are hundreds, thousands of channels and we are only talking about 10 of them. Likings are very different. Animation channels, music videos are the ones who get the most views and If your objective is to make money, it is possible to choose this. The first brand I collaborated was Loreal. I was in shock when I saw that mail. I was providing for myself since I was 18 but the budget they offered me was very surprising, I had never made that much money. But it was not easy to make money like that. Contract process, making out an invoice was hard because you are not a company. You learn all this along the way. I was doing projects, but I didn’t know if it was continuous or not. A couple of years passed like this. It was not continuous. I always asked my self is it going to be a career. Yes, I was making money, but I had questions. Is this a job? How long will it continue like this? Who am I? Am I relevant in the industry?

Teşekkürler/ Thanks to NORM KIRTASİYE VE IŞIK SELİ
T-shirt: GUESS Şort/Shorts: TOMMY HILFIGER X COCO COLA / VAKKORAMA Ceket/Jacket: MIA IAM / VAKKORAMA Ayakkabı/Shoes: TABITHA SIMMONS / BEYMEN Küpe/Earrings: SWAROWSKI Şapka/Hat: HELENE BERMAN / V2K Eldiven/Gloves: EDİTÖR’E AİT/ EDITOR’S OWN

How did you develop your content throughout this process? Not being outdated, being able to stay at the moment or even going past it is the most critical part of this job…

Duygu Özaslan: I haven’t said, “What will I film?” in the past 6 years and this common among us “Youtubers”. The rhythm of the viewers is very clear now because I can see all this in a very analytic way. I was very close to the algorithm and analytics of Youtube before. I wasn’t uploading my content on certain days, was not writing catchy titles. If I want to continue having the same views, I can’t have that freedom anymore.  

How do you preserve your persona in all these equations?

Duygu Özaslan: Yes, there is a persona and it is very important, but you are trying to express yourself in so many different parameters. Your title, colour of the video, your caption… There are a lot of different factors. I am still not sure of it that’s why I work with professionals. In the beginning, I just wanted my subscribers to get to know me and just to express myself. That’s why I have loyal subscribers and I have good relations with brands. They know that I always do what I want to do and that I pursue what I love. For the last 2 years, I have been working with an agency. Being a team and having things done by professionals allows me to focus and think about my content.

How does the work you developed by sharing your life, taste effected or affecting your relationship with your surroundings?

Duygu Özaslan: I am not n influencer who shares everything. I don’t share details about my life in my stories, don’t share my boyfriend, don’t post the gifts my friends get me. I am afraid that it would damage my personal relationships. I am trying to share my taste, not my life.  The fastest you share your personal life, shorter the life o that channel will be.  We are a society who is very interested in the personal lives of others.  I experience this too, but I believe not giving too much is important.

How much space does your phone have in your life?

I don’t have a phone-oriented life. It is important that I am comfortable

How important is getting recognized to you?

When I go out, I know that that people will recognize me, but I don’t live with this psychology. I can’t act according to it. Obsessing about going out with no makeup or not going certain places is not for me.  

How much do you include your work into your social life?

If I am having fun, I don’t want to live on my phone. The idea of sharing to show off really bothers me. There was a time when I was like this too. Let’s go there, we will take photos. Let’s wear this, it photographs well… I struggled with those concerns too but it’s not pleasant. It prevents you from enjoying your life. I can’t throw a camera or a phone at my friend who came to hang out with me and ask to take my photos. This, not the reason why that person is there.    

First, you have to have respect for the job you do in order to gain people’s respect. 

I got to know my channel and my audience. I formalized it. Growing my channel is not an obsession for me. I am more stable now, I don’t act greedy with the brands I work with. I am in a less is more mood. It takes five minutes to destroy the career I have been building for 6 years but protecting it is so hard.

The idea that influencers create a consumer society is the most criticized aspect of the job, we are talking about social judgements. The reason for this is that we are witnessing the birth of a new profession with our personal and professional experiences.

This situation actually doesn’t bother me. Because it is essential to the system of the world and we see this reflecting on a lot of different professions. You can support this idea by being an advertiser. This shouldn’t be a judgement that condescends the people of social media and they should not come for people like this. I am criticized for encouraging little girls to do makeup. But I always supported the idea that it is best if people start wearing makeup later. 

You are not a social responsibility initiative after all. It is wrong for people to come for you like this.

Yes, that’s right but I always tried to support my truth. There are channels where people curse, there are shows on TV or Youtube who uses topics like murder and rape. Is that more okay? It bothers me too that the thing I influence people is products. I also try to convey the good things in my life.

Is being a community important for providing growth? 

For the last 5 years, I only filmed videos with people who are really my friends. I can only produce content if I watch that channel and like the person. There are a lot of people who take the other path. This something that Youtube support too but I won’t enlarge my audience with content that is not appropriate for me through that kind of content. Because there are a lot of people who do that, and this will decrease my engagement. It would affect me negatively when I collaborate with a brand.

Üst/Body: T BY ALEXANDER WANG/BEYMENTulum/Overalls: HAKAAN YILDIRIMAyakkabı/Shoes: BALENCIAGA/BEYMEN Teşekkürler/ Thanks to AR-İŞ ÇERÇEVE

First, you have to have respect for the job you do in order to gain people’s respect. 

I got to know my channel and my audience. I formalized it. Growing my channel is not an obsession for me. I am more stable now, I don’t act greedy with the brands I work with. I am in a less is more mood. It takes five minutes to destroy the career I have been building for 6 years but protecting it is so hard.

The idea that influencers create a consumer society is the most criticized aspect of the job, we are talking about social judgements. The reason for this is that we are witnessing the birth of a new profession with our personal and professional experiences.

This situation actually doesn’t bother me. Because it is essential to the system of the world and we see this reflecting on a lot of different professions. You can support this idea by being an advertiser. This shouldn’t be a judgement that condescends the people of social media and they should not come for people like this. I am criticized for encouraging little girls to do makeup. But I always supported the idea that it is best if people start wearing makeup later. 

You are not a social responsibility initiative after all. It is wrong for people to come for you like this.

Yes, that’s right but I always tried to support my truth. There are channels where people curse, there are shows on TV or Youtube who uses topics like murder and rape. Is that more okay? It bothers me too that the thing I influence people is products. I also try to convey the good things in my life.

Is being a community important for providing growth? 

For the last 5 years, I only filmed videos with people who are really my friends. I can only produce content if I watch that channel and like the person. There are a lot of people who take the other path. This something that Youtube support too but I won’t enlarge my audience with content that is not appropriate for me through that kind of content. Because there are a lot of people who do that, and this will decrease my engagement. It would affect me negatively when I collaborate with a brand.

Click here to watch ‘how to be an influencer with Duygu Özaslan!

Röportaj/Interview by DUYGU BENGİ

Fotoğraf / Photography by: MERT TERLİKSİZ

Moda / Fashion by: BURAK SANUK

Hair by AKIN ÜNAL

MUA BURCU TAŞ/ ÖNDER TİRYAKİ STUDIO

MUA Assistant: İREM ÇETİNKAYA / ÖNDER TİRYAKİ STUDIO

Fashion Assistant: BERNA TETİK