On the hottest day of the year so far in Vienna, Virginia, Michal and I sit down to a table bursting with Mexican food cooked by a Nigerian and an Italian. With six nationalities represented during dinner, as we caught up with our old friends, I am pleased to have made a new one: Buki Peters. Amidst the eating, drinking, good jokes, terrible jokes and rip-roaring laughter, I did my best to gather some sort of interview… And it wasn’t until our dear Peruvian friend politely joked that he was going to excuse himself to “set all of his alarms for the year 2016” that we finally got to really talking about Style With Buki.
Buki, with her radiant smile and cheeky sense of humour, is a fashion and lifestyle blogger. Originally from Nigeria, Buki graduated from Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, and now lives in Vienna, close to Washington DC.
I used to have a menswear blog. But I had to stop when I moved to Virginia, because I couldn’t find any men who would let me take their photo! In New York, I could take photos of guys with their clothes just anywhere. But here people are like “no… wait, what?”…
Style in D.C. is very different to New York. It used to be much more uniform. But now it’s actually changing… it’s become more eclectic and more international which is really fun. I think because of the variety of neighbourhoods in DC – there’s so much international fashion, which is being mixed with the DC uniform preppy look.
So after six months or so of trying with the menswear blog, I just thought ‘hey, I’m just gonna do me’. So I started doing my own blog – and I found my niche.
Buki, who currently also owns and runs her own day care centre, is about to take the leap to making her blog her full time business.
Right now, I feel like I don’t have a life! I work like 55-60 hours per week with the kids, from 7.30am-6pm every day. So I’m really excited about going full time – it will give me the freedom that I don’t have right now to go places and really invest the time.
I want to start sending out newsletters, doing giveaways, even having contributors; that’s where I want to go. For me, it’s really all about building community – I want my blog to feel like a conversation, not just a destination. I want people to be able to learn, discover and connect – and feel like they can be a part of that conversation too.
As she served us a huge slice of Rhubarb and Strawberry Pie (we are still struggling to get used to American size portions!), Buki told us that we were actually eating a pie that was a product of her blogging explorations
So one of the main features of Style With Buki right now is “Locals Luv”, which I love! I connect with a local: sometimes another blogger, or through instagram, or just a good friend, and ask them to show me around their town or city – but not the tourist stuff, it has to be the locals’ perspective. So today, we did “Locals Luv Leesburg”, and we went to this amazing pie store. It’s no bigger than this deck! But the pie came straight out of the oven!
So we just chat to people, ask them to share their stories, their perspectives. Sometime I send questions in advance, but other times if we visit a shop or a restaurant, I just say that we’d love to feature them and any of their products that they’d like to highlight.
I started “Locals Luv” because I didn’t think I was gonna be able to travel so much now that I work for myself. I wanted to explore my surroundings and actually experience being here. Even Vienna, I don’t know that well and I live here! Something we wanna do is, if you can’t travel like to Europe, you can do “Florence for a Day” in DC – so you can like visit the Pantheon, then there’s super authentic Italian restaurants, there’s the desserts, the Italian markets. So you’re not leaving your town, but you’re enjoying it fully, with the locals who have made it what it is as they’ve immigrated from other places.
I really hope it can be a way for locals to rally behind businesses and help build that community.
Amidst the beautiful community experiences that she shares, the one thing you cannot miss when you visit Style With Buki is her wonderfully bright, beautiful and bold fashion. With her winning smile greeting you from every photo, each post, even the ones not about fashion, inspire you to brighten your wardrobe, and try new expressions in the way you dress. I love the fact that Buki mixes vintage with high street with her own ready-to-wear couture pieces, in her unique, unpretentious, joyful style.
I love people. I love style. I enjoy people getting together, and I enjoy seeing people learn. So I do DIYs (like bags, shoes) because I love seeing when lightbulbs go off. So I think it’s really fun when I do DIYs and people are like ‘hey I didn’t know I could do that, that’s awesome’!
I’m about to launch an online store too; to people can buy ready-to-wear pieces, bags, clutches, jewellery… But my favourite thing is people. I love people. When someone comes to my site, I want them to feel like they can relate, they can enter conversation, you know, and discover something new.
Buki has been featured as a guest style editor in Marie Claire, and has had several TV and online appearances. It was wonderful to see her joy at the anticipation of what might be around the corner as she is able to fully invest her time and energy into bringing her passions together.
For now, it’s still quite local, like in this area. But soon I want it to go international – like I have a friend in Hong Kong, and I want her to do a “Locals Luv Hong Kong”. I love connecting people, and I really want to keep building this community.
It’s amazing when people are not just talkers, but doers. And Buki is true to her word about connecting people; as soon as she saw our blog, she wanted to help us, to link us with people in different cities, for us to contribute to the voice on her site, and to share her work with us to put on our site. So, here’s that first step… Buki Style!
All photos courtesy of stylewithbuki.com