The influence of Instagram is almost unparalleled. So much so, that there are brands worldwide who have built their house using its wide-reaching powers. Here are four local stars who have combined talent with social media savvy. The result? Success: plain and simple.

Social media has a lot to answer for. It can make or break a blogger’s career (think Olivia Palermo), launch a brand (think Glossier) and ignite a worldwide trend (think Marc Jacobs’ #cestmemarc). While the Middle East is still catching up in some aspects of the social media world, there are a savvy few out there who know exactly what they are doing and are using the world wide web to their advantage.

So, with that, we reveal four local stars who built their own mini empire from Instagram.

L’AFSHAR (@lilianafshar)



Who: Lilian Afshar’s bug-adorned marble clutches are perfect props for the designer’s beautiful Instagram feed.

Followed by: 25.3k followers.

Lilian’s  Top Tips: “[Instagram] is the best and most creative way to be directly in touch with your customers. It’s such a powerful tool that should be used in the right way – make it your mood board. The key is to keep a balance; not to overload it with work pictures only, add a little personal touch. Huge tip: Never use Instagram’s own filters. I definitely recommend VSCO for filters.”

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KATYA KOVTUNOVICH (@katyakovtunovich)



KATYA KOVTUNOVICH (@katyakovtunovich)

Who: Russian-born, Dubai-based Katya showcases her collection of East-meets-West pieces to a captive.

Followed by: 13k.

Top Tips: “Initially my very good friend basically forced me to get on Instagram, for the first six months I was very sceptical. While Facebook was bringing me concrete sales, Instagram seemed to be a rather doubtful enterprise where people just ‘liking’ pictures. Of course, now Instagram is our everything. It serves as a portfolio for my brand (before people would refer to your website, now everyone just opens your Instagram), its our online store and one of our main marketing tools.

“Instagram has unlimited reach and constantly keeps you excited. One day you receive a request for a dress from a girl next door, the other day from China, Argentina or USA. Also, you never know what opportunity will come to you today.

“Instagram made it so easy for the whole industry to connect – you can follow stylists, photographers, models, celebrities – and know where they are and what they are up to first hand. That is how I spotted that Anna Dello Russo was in Doha one week. The next day I was on the flight and the same evening I met with her and gifted her one of my pieces from the new collection. Hopefully, we will see her wearing it soon.”

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REEMAMI (@reemamiofficial)



Who: Reemami shows the importance of digital influencers, with regrams from bloggers such as Gala Gonzalez and Natalia Shustova.

Followed by: 18.7k

Top Tips: “Having a brand ambassador like Gala Gonzalez on board has helped my brand reach a global audience and gain more of an international following. I love seeing girls in my designs and it has been great working with Gala.

“Instagram is great for showing the behind the scenes of Reemami and my thoughts and inspirations. I think it’s important for my followers to get an insight into the world of Reemami, to understand more about the story behind each creation.

“I also tend to engage with my customers through Instagram which helps me understand what they like, what they don’t, what they want to see more of.”

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BARABOUX (@barabouxofficial)



Baraboux’s feed spotlights the bag brand’s stylish fans, namely Candice Lake, whose outfit posts have been proven to get followers shopping.

Followed by: 6,195

Top tip: “In a year, the @BarabouxOfficial Instagram account has doubled in followers and won a surge in engagement from fans and influencers. With bloggers and editors tagging the brand in #OOTD posts, the circle of influence widens further. Undoubtedly, [due to Instagram] last year’s most-liked bag was the metallic Yolanda, which we launched for autumn/winter 2015. [It’s great for promoting  Baraboux products to a large audience].”

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Words: Alexandria Gouveia and Natalie Hughes

Images: Instagram