Something strong

May 28, 2023

The first to take her written opinions and turn them into digital video content within Pakistan’s fashion and entertainment industries, Aamna Isani blazed a trail for digital lifestyle journalism.

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Aamna Isani is no wallflower – she has a presence and way with words that get her noticed, and have eventually led to her lucrative personal venture, Something Haute.


t some point in 2020, we realized that not only was digital media essential at that point in time, but it was also flexible enough to replace almost every daily analog service and function.

While shops and brands scrambled to align themselves with online sellers like Daraz, and learn everything they could about Magento and Shopify, public figures turned to Instagram and TikTok to stay connected and relevant. It was all so millennial, which, if you are one, you know it is one of the most devastating but exciting states of being.

One person who probably only needed to tweak her strategy slightly was Aamna Isani. A bonafide writer, Aamna has often described writing to be her greatest passion, and her source of catharsis.

Where other brands – human or otherwise – had to suddenly figure out how to really establish their digital presence, Aamna already had Something Haute, which was a Wordpress blog established back in 2009, right after she left her post as Assistant Editor at Instep, The News.

For lots of Pakistani women, Aamna Isani was the go-to for fashion inspo and advice right from when her column appeared in Daily Times, where she often answered questions about style too. Her mantra even back then was: if you’re comfortable in it, you’ll look good in it. Her love for fashion led her to observe it carefully and become one of the leading opinionmakers in the industry. In 2009, moving over to a blog was natural transition to the next thing. In the 2010s, the expansion to social media was organic and intuitive. Establishing the Something Haute YouTube channel? That was her masterstroke.

“Something Haute started as a blog. I had a lot to say and there wasn’t enough space in the newspaper pages. This was an outpouring of everything I had to say,” Aamna says. “Personal little things and observations, small stories, leftover bits from interviews. It all went on the blog.”

Given that Aamna Isani had an established, respected byline, it wasn’t too long before she was approached by brands to monetize her blog with ads.

“It became a necessity,” Aamna recalls, “because I needed to make more money to sustain myself and [living on a] salary wasn’t enough. So gradually, when I started writing more, the blog became a website and then the website got a lot of traction and then people wanted to advertise on it. So, it just went from strength to strength. I’m very lucky that I was ahead of the curve, and I started it when nobody else did and when it was time to do YouTube, we did YouTube. So, that’s how it started. And that’s how it’s going. Strong, alhamdulillah.”

One of Aamna’s first ventures when she first decided to create her personal brand was Fashion 101, a class for entrants to aspiring fashion and adjacent industries she taught at T2F. The course helped create an understanding of how fashion and the media can work together, and the etiquette of handling the relationship both ways, as well as basic industry ethics and standards. The reason the course drew a lot of candidates at the time, again circa 2009-10, was a) Aamna Isani was an easily recognizable name, and b) she has a manner that is both demanding but approachable, and even when she is on the ’un’ side of approachable, her quick humor can put anyone at ease.

With Something Haute partner and Managing Editor, Hassan Chaudhry.

Though she is practically the poster child for digital success – Something Haute was one of three Pakistani channels on YouTube invited topresent at YouTube Brandcast in 2022 – Aamna feels her successisn’t a qualifier for her skillset.

This quality definitely comes in handy when she interviews celebrities across industries and genres.

The interviews, reviews, and various musings on the channels are light and conversational, and Aamna’s persona appeals to quite a wide demographic.

Demographics are another key factor in Something Haute finding the success it did, when it did. Television, as Aamna notes, has picked up in the last few years, with fresh faces and brand-new stars. TV series have massive followings, and it isn’t just journalists or critics talking about them anymore, the latest shocker in any TV drama is widely discussed on social media.

A certain demographic in Pakistan already only consumes content on mobile, and watching a YouTube video discussing exactly what you’re interested in, is preferable to seeking out commentary on more traditional media, such as publications or related websites. Videos will link back to the channel’s website and other socials, and this ease of access, clicking from icon to platform, creates a smoother user experience, which may encourage people to stick around longer, and visit more frequently.

Aamna points out that she began accepting advertisements for her website as early as sometime around 2014-15, and in the years since, the expansion to YouTube has had to be lucrative. YouTube currently has 71.7 million users in Pakistan, with ad reach landing at a healthy 82.1% of all internet users in the country.

SomethingHaute’s other active platform is Instagram, where ad reach in Pakistan stood at 14.8% of all internet users in January of this year.*

This is mutually beneficial for the channel – Something Haute currently has 400K followers, while AHI, Aamna’s fashion-focused channel has around 38K followers. Those are not small numbers, and if the content is of a certain quality, it will draw both advertisers and audience.

Though she is practically the poster child for digital success – Something Haute was one of three Pakistani channels on YouTube invited to present at YouTube Brandcast in 2022 – Aamna feels her success isn’t a qualifier for her skillset.

“My final destination is obviously to write a book, but when you say digital is my only medium now, that question itself is not true, because writing has shifted from print to digital. It may not be for print anymore, because print is a dying medium, but I consider myself a writer, first and foremost. I think that is my forte and I definitely would want to continue writing.”

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