Photography by Rachel Kuzma
Sitting in the courtyard of the famous High Line Hotel, we see Eliane Awada walking in toting a Sandro shopping bag while sporting a simple monochromatic look that mirrors the aesthetic of her wanderlust-inspiring Instagram perfectly. She explains she is actually traveling the next day to see her family in Argentina, while nervously confessing she hasn’t quite finished preparing for her trip. Eliane’s humble nature and honest approach that puts a refreshingly relatable twist to the often-misunderstood image of the typical fashion content creator, and it’s that positive glow that has amassed her a following of over 46,000 people from all over the world.
“I started out in fashion management which is more numbers and I love numbers- but at the same time I felt I always had a creative eye and started taking more photos,” she explains, “I just always shifted towards more of the creative side.” This change in her career put her on the path to where she is now, collaborating with some of the biggest brands in the fashion industry while finding herself in the distant corners of the earth. We caught up with Eliane to talk travel, the business of social media, and what inspires her to keep going.
So, let’s start off with the big question- how many countries have you actually lived in or visited?
I’ve only lived in two countries- Argentina and the States but when it comes to how many I’ve visited…when I think about it, this is hard. I want to say more than 30. We travel to so many countries all over. It’s amazing and I’m so, so grateful for that. The last trip I went on was Greenland I think which seems super random but was AMAZING. We saw the northern lights and it was like one week of walking from place to place in the middle of nowhere sleeping in a tent- we were like adventurers.
That’s A LOT of traveling around- have you picked up many languages along the way?
I speak 3 languages- Spanish is my first language, English, and I speak French- not fluently but I can speak it well. I would say because they are close to Spanish I have a little understanding of languages like Italian and Portuguese but I wouldn’t consider myself an Italian speaker or a Portuguese speaker.
Do you have a favorite destination that connected with you emotionally?
I feel like I can always get something from wherever I’m traveling. For me it’s more the people I’m traveling with than the destination that connects with me sometimes. But one of my last trips I went to Israel which I never really considered because it’s not a place my family would normally go to but I was traveling with like 50 Latin people from different backgrounds which was super inspiring and seeing these amazing things and it was just fascinating to share. AND the food was incredible as well- it was like hummus everything and falafels. I loved it.
It just hit me how much food from around the world you must’ve tried out. Do you have a favorite?
I love everything but my favorite food isn’t actually from my travels honestly, it’s actually from my family. Some of my family is Lebanese, so the food has always been in my family as tradition and that has to be my absolute favorite.
How has living in both NYC and Buenos Aires influenced your lifestyle?
I guess it’s interesting because it’s such a different lifestyle between the two. Argentina is very family orientated and it’s the same traditional atmosphere and then New York is this big cultural melting pot everywhere. I do have a few Argentinian friends here but then I have many more from all over the world and you get to learn so many things from everyone and something is always going on. So, on one hand I have the side from Argentina that gave me this very familial kind of attitude and New York teaches you to be independent and the struggle to get somewhere which is a good experience to have.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from traveling that has influenced your perspective?
It really teaches you just to be open minded by being exposed to all these cultures allowing you to have a better understanding of what’s going on and make it easier to form bonds with people while learning all these traditions. In the end its about learning to show respect, which these days a lot of people need to learn and maybe it’s out of ignorance or that people just don’t get it but they find it hard to understand that someone might have a different religion or something like that and I’m sure that traveling is a great way to get out of that mindset.
Would you say traveling is something important for self-discovery?
I think it’s SO important for self-discovery. I feel like sometimes people get so into routine always doing the same thing and being with the same people in their little bubble and traveling really pushes you outside of that comfort zone allowing you to meet people and spend time on your own which is amazing. I was reading about this yesterday there are so many companies that will help you travel for a year with one month in a different city while working from home and that’s insane! So many resources are out right now to do that which is inspiring to see how many people are taking advantage and really trying to get out there.
What was your most memorable experience traveling?
I’ve always loved traveling. When I was about 11 years old I spent a summer with this company, CISV, where they take kids and you get together in one city but you travel alone so you’re not with your family or friends, and I went to Norway. It was a random place, I was a baby and I don’t even know how they got us to go there but It wasn’t about learning about one culture I was surrounded by so many different cultures and the first two weeks I was just crying about how much I wanted to just go home- I missed my family, I missed my teddy bear. But the last two weeks were incredible because I adapted to this challenge of having to speak in English and sleeping somewhere that wasn’t my bed and being around all these new people. It was definitely something I remember as one of my best trips because it really encouraged me to start traveling. It really started my passion.
What do you think about social media in relation to fashion and the digital marketing business?
I think social media has been amazing for fashion and marketing. It just makes fashion and the business more approachable for everyone like you have these influencers rising up, which is a new thing and before you had to be either a celebrity or a super model to be someone in fashion. I have all these amazing friends that started from zero and just showing their style and art, they’ve become so influential. That’s amazing I feel like nowadays fashion is trickling up and it starts in the streets. It’s flipped the pyramid and that’s interesting for me.
People often fear social media overload, especially on vacation, how do you pick the images you want to highlight without overwhelming your audience?
I’m a psycho on my Instagram- even if there are amazing photos I want to post, if I don’t like something looks even a little I just think, “maybe I shouldn’t post this now”. At the same time with all these insta-stories and carousel updates, it’s easier to make all the images fit. Believe me there are SO many photos that I like but I don’t like how it looks on my feed so I just don’t post them. But at the same time if I’m working with a certain client I might think ok maybe this picture isn’t for me but my client will like it so it will work. I can make it work.
You mentioned the new additions to Instagram- stories and carousel. Updates are always being pushed on these social media sites, how do you think it affects your content?
To be honest I’m not sure if I love it because I feel like people- including me- we don’t like scrolling through so much and I barely can catch all the content people post with all the insta-stories and things like that. I feel like we lost that engagement with followers in general but again you have to move on and keep up with what’s going on but I do feel like it’s a little sad people aren’t looking through the actual posts anymore. I’m curious to see what will be the next thing though, you know it’s always changing.
What kind of feedback really sticks out to you when your audience engages with your posts?
I actually have a friend who’s a photographer and I LOVE his work it’s just so different from mine and you know when you admire what someone does and you think “Oh my god compared to what they do, mine is terrible” but one day he told me out of nowhere “Eli I love your content how do you do it- how are you so minimal and so clean.” And I think that’s when you see different content is what makes the platform so interesting. I really liked that because there are so many photographers that I follow and they are so different from my work and that doesn’t mean mine is worse or better it’s just we all have different approaches to creative content.
Any advice you have for people looking to step up their Instagram game?
I think it’s best you are just always authentic. Just be authentic- there are so many big influencers that are wannabes trying to copy content from others and there is no point. Just do what you like.
Do you ever think about collaborating with your sister, Nadine Awada, who is a content creator based in Argentina?
We totally inspire each other and we used to work together in Argentina all the time. She’s also in fashion and social media. We are always thinking about collaborating but it can be so hard when I’m in NYC and she’s in Argentina, and she has clients from Argentina so when it comes to working with clients it can be difficult from a distance. But now that I’m going to Argentina to visit she’s like, “Eli we have to talk and figure something out” – it would be so fun and I love working with her we have really similar aesthetic.
Finally, with all your traveling is there anywhere left on your list you’d like to check out?
Oh my god there are so many places I want to go. I really want to explore Asia a little more, I want to go to India which is on my bucket list. That’s my number one. And then I really want to go in Chile where there’s the Atacama Desert where there is this amazing trail you can do and I think that’s next we’ll see when we can make it work.
To learn more about Eliane and follow her on her adventures, follow her on Instagram.