Congratulations on being chosen for the Pitch To Rich judging panel alongside Richard Branson! It's obviously been a great journey, so where did it start?
I was unhappy at university at the time, so I spent a week or so contemplating leaving university and at the same time researching fashion for Muslim women all over the world. I came across a whole new empire of it abroad, designers in particular. Blogging wasn't massive at the time and I saw that there were no Muslim woman pursuing fashion here in the UK. I went about using my little sewing machine and putting together scrap fabrics I had laying around and turning them into new pieces of clothing. I then decided to start posing in the clothes and posting them up on my blog. When blogging duties began to take up most of my time, I put designing to the side for a while until I managed to find time to attempt them both.
You've gone from zero to 80k subscribers on youtube. Was it intentional to grow your audience there?
When I started Youtube it wasn't a big step for me. I only started due to a few requests from followers of my first blog. I wasn't really bothered about my channel and actually really hated filming myself. I didn't watch any other Youtube channels either! As I grew into my vision, social media had pretty much begun taking over the world and Youtube really gave me a chance to showcase myself. Having 88,000 subscribers is a small number to many, but to me it's huge! Now, Youtube has become essential for me, and not to mention addictive.
You have started your own fashion line as a result of your online success. Did the model change form conception to now?
Originally Lazy Doll was going to be a small collection of easy to wear dresses, for the 'lazy' among us who still enjoy looking fab but, of course with minimal effort. For some reason that didn't happen and instead I began sourcing scarves and selling them instead. At the time it was very difficult to get my hands on decent scarves that we could fashion as headscarves and so it seemed like the thing to do. From there it evolved into designing my own scarves, a small limited clothing collection and I also began trading vintage clothing.
What has been the biggest surprise on your business journey so far?
The support I receive from the other side of the world! It's crazy to think that I do everything in the UK, set out mainly for British women, and while the support from the UK ladies is absolutely incredible, I've never seen anything like the support I receive from South East Asia. When I visit Indonesia for example, it's always such an overwhelming experience!
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about following your route, especially in fashion blogging as a business?
BE YOURSELF. It sounds so cliche but it's so true! If you're going to start something, start it for the right reason or have a purpose for it. There's no point in just being a copy of something you see, do it for yourself.
Dina Toki-O is on the judging panel alongside Sir Richard Branson for the final of Virgin Media Pioneers’ Pitch to Rich on 13 May. To find out how to watch the final on a live stream and vote for your favourite pitch go to www.virginmediapioneers.com and follow www.twitter.com/vmpioneers #Pitch2Rich