Maven to Know: NADIA ISSA
One thing you’ll never catch Nadia Issa wearing is sweatpants. The influencer and Butler University junior lives by the philosophy of dressing up every day, no matter the occasion or lack thereof.
“I don’t know who I’m going to meet,” she says. “I might meet Michelle Obama or the most famous person ever and I need to make sure I dress the part.”
Issa’s outfits are a mix of bold printed dresses and skirts, neon blouses, and chic pantsuits. And as a practicing Muslim, her outfits are always topped off with a hijab.
“I don’t like clothes that when you walk out, you see someone wearing the same exact thing,” she says. “I love showing women how to express their individuality through fashion, it’s really important to know yourself. I feel like fashion helps you figure that out.”
As an influencer, Nadia’s Instagram account currently boasts 37,700 followers. In addition to showcasing her one-of-a-kind outfits, she also uses her platform to inspire others to be unique. Issa recalls not seeing many social media influencers that looked like her growing up, so she hopes to be a familiar face to those having trouble finding representation.
We caught up with her and chatted about her envious closet, path to becoming an influencer, and advice to others who are struggling to find their individual style.
you’re a double major in economics and finance. What do you see yourself doing after graduation?
As of right now, all I know is that I want to help people, and I really enjoy economics. My goal is to go to grad school and get a PhD in economics. Preferably economic development, and help underdeveloped countries become developed.
How did you become an influencer?
I was in high school and I just started posting on Instagram. At first, it was just posting a picture of what I was wearing, and I didn’t think much about it at all. Then I went to nationals for oratory speaking and placed 5th in the nation at an Olympic competition. So, through that, I was connecting with people. I was motivating people to go after their dreams and to not let their fears define them. And that led to people coming to follow me on my Instagram. Then it went from just me posting a picture to me posting a picture and trying to put meaning to it and telling people some kind of motivational quote for my caption. Or just being authentic with them. The rest is just history.
What influence do you hope to have on your followers?
My hope is that someone can scroll through my page and say, “You know what, I don’t have to have an event to dress up. I can dress up and be myself and love who I am without doing it for someone else.” For me, it was my way of expressing myself and to show the world who I am. I want people to be empowered.
What advice would you tell your high school self?
I would say, “Be you.” I feel like in high school, we’re all trying to figure ourselves out—and sometimes you lash out on your individuality and try to find something else. I would tell my high school self, “Remember what makes you, you” and stick to that no matter what.
What is the best question you’ve ever been asked?
One day when I was speaking, this young lady asked me why I don’t give up. It took me time to think about it and I realized it’s because I imagine what I want to be. It’s easier to give up when you don’t have a set goal. It’s me thinking about falling in love with my future self and wanting to obtain that so badly. As long as you have a goal or something you’re striving to be, that’s really powerful rather than just blindly scrolling through life.
What are some of your favorite places to shop?
I would say half of my closet is from Africa — I am Nigerien, like I originated from Niger. So, every time we go back to visit, I always have tailored clothes made for me. I do a lot of boutique shopping. And at the same time, I don’t like fast fashion. So I try to stay away from fast fashion companies because of all the negative things that happen and unethical treatments. I’m really picky when it comes to where I shop because I want to make sure that the company is ethical on the way they deal with the people and how they use their money, what kind of activities they sponsor.
What’s your favorite fashion purchase?
I have some custom, hand-embroidered hijabs. I rarely wear them, but they are the most amazing thing ever and my favorite thing in my closet that are so special.
What advice do you have for people creating their own brands and Instagram feed?
My biggest advice is to be authentically you. It’s so easy to create an unrealistic image on social media these days but it won’t take you anywhere and people can see right through it. The more real you are the more people can connect with you, and trust me, that will take you far in your journey.
What advice do you have for others trying to find their style?
To sum it up, I feel like the top steps to define your personal style are: Start by doing a Pinterest search of “style icons” and save the images you are drawn to. Scroll through your inspiration photos and pick a few words to describe the vibe of the looks. Are they classic, modern, eclectic, bohemian, or trend-forward? Write them down for future reference, as they will help you clarify and define your look. Think about a signature piece that reflects the vibe.
Samantha Kupiainen is a regular Indy Maven contributor.