Can you share the story of how you began your career in the fashion and beauty industry over a decade ago? What inspired you to start your fashion and beauty blog?
I was studying Economics, and as the time was passing, I didn’t feel like I would belong in corporate world, but I also at that time I couldn’t envision myself in any other industry. What stood out to me and caught my attention was the Italian blogger, Chiara Feragni and with some kind of ease I thought to myself ‘let me try this and see what happens’. But it was far from easy. From that moment, years have passed until my first paid collaboration and there was a time when I doubted myself and my decisions over and over again. What made it more difficult for me was that my family and friends didn’t truly understand this new path of mine. And as the time was passing by with no results, it was harder and harder to understand.
I was persistent enough, but I was also very aware that this might not be the best decision, therefore I decided to set some goals regarding time and results, and if I did not have any collabs or earnings unti l that time passed, I would choose some other life path.
Thank God, after 3 years, I got my first PR package from Adi- das, and shortly after I earned my first 150$ from a collab, and when that happened, I was jumping from joy for 2 days straight, because it meant that this is possible!
Over the course of 11 years, you’ve become one of the most popular influencers in the Balkans. What do you think sets you apart from others in the industry?
To be completely honest, it takes a lot of things to succeed, but the most difficult part is when you get where you wanted, and now you have to figure out how to stay there. Some of the most important things that really make the difference are consistency, mindset, luck, a specific moment, seizing that moment, people you surround yourself with privately and in business, your team, the ability to multitask, but also that X factor, also known as charisma. Charisma is something you carry within, and it cannot be taught or bought. It is the ability to speak to 10 followers or 100 thousand followers as you are speaking to your best friend about the day you had. It makes all the difference, because it helps people connect to you, feel you, identify with you and your everyday struggles and stay there, because maybe you made their day just a little bit better or gave them strength and inspiration to face their daily challenges.
“Influence is about authenticity, not just glamour. It’s showing my highs and lows, sharing my real self, and never quitting easily”
You’ve collaborated with a wide range of prominent brands such as YSL Beauty, Porsche, H&M, and many more. Could you tell us about your experiences working with these brands and the impact it has had on your career?
What I have learned from these experiences through the years, is that you achieve the best results when the campaign is a good fit for you. Which is not the case in 70% of the collabs. So, as I grew, I chose to only work with clients who trust me to make a campaign my own, when it’s not tailored for me. By making those changes when necessary, I am staying true to my followers and to myself and the end result is a genuine collaboration that I can proudly stand by, people recognize the honesty, therefore the client is happy, my followers are happy, our team is happy, and that’s the recipe for a successful campaign.
In 2021, you were named ELLE Influencer of the Year. How did it feel to receive such a prestigious recognition, and what does it mean to you in your career?
ELLE Influencer of the Year is the biggest award you can get in this region as an influencer, so to me it was a sign that what I was doing was getting recognition from the people who hold some weight in this industry. It gave me even more inspiration and strength to keep up with new ideas, projects, and the good work.
Your brand, BÉBÉ by Dunja, has experienced impressive growth since its launch in 2021. Can you tell us about the journey of building this brand and the key factors that contributed to its success?
The most important thing about me as an entrepreneur is that I start things because I love them, not because I expect to earn money from them. Love makes the whole thing super special. And if you try hard, and stay consistent, the profit comes with time.
In my case, I think there are a few main reasons why the brand has this massive growth. First – I’ve built my platform for years, and I had many followers who trust me, so when I came up with my brand, they believed in it, because they believe in me. The second reason, is that it started as a loungewear brand, mainly for home purpose, but people wanted to wear the clothes outside, so what the brand has become known for is that we sell multipurpose products, which you can wear at home and feel like a million dollars, or take them outside and be super stylish. And the third reason is the quality of the product, which we are really proud of, and that’s why 40% of our customers are loyal, return customers buying monthly from our website.
With the growth of your brand, has it changed your career focus from being an influencer to a businesswoman? How do you manage the balance between the two roles?
My life goal is to have balance between being an influencer, the CEO of a growing company, and to have some quality time for myself and the people I love. It is really difficult at times to just be yourself, and to have a day or a moment just for yourself, because you are aware that when you stop, there is nobody to take your place. Especially for the influence job.
But I am very lucky to have an amazing team of people who have the same spirit, the same work ethic, and they make my life easier.
You mentioned that you can discuss the superficial approach towards influencers. Could you elaborate on this and share your perspective on the challenges influencers face in today’s digital landscape?
Maybe the first thought about influencers until recently was that they are very superficial, and only show their glossy moments and expensive lifestyle, which is true in some cases, or even most of them. For me, the real goal and the most important thing is that people who follow you, really feel connected. You are not always at your best or giving your 100%. I’m not. And nobody really is. And if you are only showing your best moments, people are not going to connect. That’s why I try to show my real self, when it feels comfortable. I do have a lot of glamourous moments, but on the other hand, I go makeup-free most of the time, I record myself in the morning which are not my prettiest moments, I show my emotions, good or bad, I talk about therapy, I am simply trying to show people that I am just a human, that I have my highs and lows, but most importantly – that I don’t quit very easily. And I think all of those things combined are the key to my success.
Dealing with insecurities and negativity is a common challenge for influencers. How do you personally cope with these issues, and do you have any advice for others in the industry?
This topic can be approached from two sides. From one perspective, everybody is super sensitive and trying not to offend anyone and from the other perspective, there is this lack of care for the feelings of people who chose to lead public lives. So, being an influencer, who is at the same time ‘a girl next door’ and a public figure, might be very challenging, because people just feel like they own you, they made you, and that they have the right to say anything at any time, and you should just be fine with it, because ‘that is what you chose’ and ‘it’s part of your job’.
I’ve been struggling for a while with all this negativity, but around 5 years ago, I had to upgrade and learn some coping mechanisms in therapy, which helped me deal with it and be able to recognize that what people are writing about you, actually does not have anything to do with who you are, or what you did.
You mentioned the pressure in the digital world. How do you maintain your authenticity and navigate the expectations of your audience and brands you collaborate with?
The biggest pressure is to be active and interesting 24/7 and to compete with yourself, since I don’t think that a real competition in influence exists. As there is room for everyone. There is only one Dunja, and if the client wants what I bring to the table, no other person is going to get them the same vibe or the same energy, or the target group that I have.
I have this rule – that I am my very first follower, and that if I don’t like the brand, the product, or the content I created, I am simply not going to post it, since most of my followers are similar to me and they would connect to same products and brands as I do.
In order to work with me, the brands have to trust my vision, so we can get the best results.
Many influencers share personal stories and emotions with their audience. What’s your philosophy regarding sharing personal aspects of your life, and what considerations do you take into account?
I do like to get personal with my followers, but the limits of how personal I feel like being online, do change. For the biggest part of my career, I was very private when it comes to my private life, my family and relationships. But at times, showing people my vulnerability, that I also have bad days, or a bad month, that I am sad or going through something, that I am very much in love and very happy, is what made me closer to my followers, and I got so much love from them.
I don’t always show my vulnerability, because at times, I just want to keep it to myself, and silently push through it, so it really is something that I decide on in a spur of a moment or a true feeling in my gut.
What motivates you to keep going and continue evolving in your career after over a decade in the industry? Are there any goals or aspirations you still aim to achieve?
I am someone who didn’t really have much confidence entering this world, and I actually built my confidence throughout the process, so while building my business, I am also working on myself, and all of this success, gave me motivation to get up the next day and be better in every single way.
But my goal for the next 5 to 10 years is to keep the quality of work I am putting out, but work less hours andenjoy more, enjoy all the things I worked for, for this past decade, and slow down, start a family, and feel the joy of life.
Being a super successful and independent woman, how do you think this impacts your relationships? Have you faced unique challenges or experiences in this regard that you’d like to discuss?
Being an independent woman is the most beautiful and trickiest thing. Because when you realize that you can do everything on your own, and you are comfortable with it, even when a person enters your life, you are confused, and so are they, because, you are your hero, and you have to learn how to make space for that person, and to realize that you don’t have to do everything, and that you can really rely on someone, and not call that depending on that person, but rather sharing the responsibilities, the good, the bad, and really everything.
If you had to sum yourself up in three words, what would they be?
Loyal, funny, persistent.