INTERVIEW WITH KENYAN-INDIAN FOOD ENTHUSIAST AND CREATIVE, QWANZA DAVE (THE KENYAN CORNSTAR)
The first time I met Qwanza was in one of the marketing units I had taken for my undergraduate classes. We started speaking and she asked me what I did and I explained to her about my blog and a couple of weeks into the class, we were following each other on social media and I loved how she created recipes and dishes from everyday items and had a little twist to what she made.
In this interview, I pick her brain about marketing and content creation. All images are acquired from her Instagram.
F: If you met a random person today, how would you best describe who you are and what you do?
Q: I’m a dreamer who is always in her own world, an introvert who values alone time, and I’m always trying something creative — origami, drawing, make-up. I’m transitioning (into veganism haha) so I run an instagram page to document my progress and to inspire and inform others.
F: What inspired you to be part of the creative industry?
Q: It was never even a question. I’ve been surrounded by creatives since I was born — my parents run an advertising agency and I always had lots of art supplies around me, plus my parents who were always ready to do different art projects with me.
F: You run a creative instagram page, what are some of the things you considered, you considered before setting out to create that page ? Share with us that journey.
Q: I came across a video of how animals are treated on agricultural farms and it really shocked me. From there I read more and educated myself on just how damaging the industry is to animals, our health, and the environment. I wanted to hold myself accountable for my decision of going vegan, while also having a visual diary that I could look back on. My first step was to come up with a catchy name, and I love what I came up with (@TheKenyanCornstar).
F: What tools do you use for your blogging ? (Camera and Editing)
Q: I use my phone camera (Infinix Note 3) and to crop the photos into squares I use Square InstaPic. Sometimes I use Adobe Illustrator when I create illustrations.
F: What is the story you want your images to portray?
Q: A sense of unpretentious comfort as my dishes are all easy to prepare- it’s what I actually eat on the daily.
F: Share with us your thoughts on the importance of social media as a creative.
Q: I find the community aspect of social media to be really important. I’ve met multiple people online who are so ready to offer advice, encouragement and support. Trying to build your brand can be tough, and so it’s comforting to know other people who are in the same position and want to see others grow with them.
F: How long have you been in the industry?
Q: I’ve been posting on my vegan page for about a year.
F: What are some of the highlights and low moments you have faced in your creative career?
Q: Small victories make my heart happy — Someone telling me they’ve tried and enjoyed one of my recipes is so warming, or even someone referring to me as The Kenyan Cornstar always makes me smile. On the other hand, if I decide to take a break from social media, coming back and seeing I lost a chunk of followers is disheartening.
F: Did you get any professional training to enhance your creative?
Q: No. I’d like to shadow a photographer one day though.
F: How are some of the ways you “stay on top of your game”?
Q: My fellow bloggers inspire so much. Also just looking at the ingredients I have on hand and trying to use them in unique ways — like using ndengu (green grams) to make pancakes.
F: Share with us one random fact about you.
Q: I love underwear. I can’t get enough of them. I have a collection of about 20+ bras. (Is this too NSFW?) — FUN FACT Black salt gives me the most dank farts ever. Like bad enough that you’ll run out of the room with tears streaming down your face #toxic
F: What should we expect to see from you in the near future/
Q: I’ve been planning a giveaway, and trying to work on a collaboration with a local company. Fingers crossed!
F: What are your thoughts on the African creative space.
Q: From all of the Kenyan bloggers i follow… We’re such a talented bunch! I see so many edgy and unique brands and bloggers, it’s just so inspiring.
F: What is your typical day?
Q: My alarm goes off at 5.15am, which i switch off and proceed to close my eyes for 30 seconds. Though somehow when I open my eyes it’s already 5.45am. I prepare everything and shower the night before so i just have to put on my clothes, brush my teeth and I’m out of the house by 6am. Then I’m pretty much stuck in traffic for the next 2 hours (I sleep in the matatu all the way till town). I work all day in digital marketing then travel back home. I make enough food for dinner and the next days lunch. Then I pack my bag, shower and pass out by 11pm.
F: How do you unwind from a busy day?
Q: I find it hard to unwind in a messy space, so the first thing I’d do is clean up — at the very least make my bed and clear it from random clothes. Then I jump in the shower armed with a moisturizing scrub (Coconut oil, Sugar, Rosewater and Chickpea flour). In the room I’ll also burn some incense — I have a really pretty ocean scented one. Next on the list is to pass TF out.
F: Chocolate or Icecream?
Oh my gosh, this is the hardest question in this interview! Do I have to choose? I’ll just say it depends on where I am. Nairobi — Chocolate, Mombasa — Icecream.