Business-interview with the Haghjoo sisters
THE INFLUENCERS AND SISTERS SYLVIA & JULIA HAGHJOO SCORE POINTS IN NOISY SOCIAL MEDIA TIMES WITH AUTHENTICITY, ARTISTIC QUALITY AND SUBTLE DISCRETION
Sylvia und Julia are fascinated by the Picasso museum in Antibes. The art-loving sisters and influencer stars feel at home in this little town, a magnet for many painters at the beginning of the 20th century. Not only because of the art: Their elegance harmonizes perfectly with the Riviera chic of the Côte d'Azur.
Madame: In the fashion industry, Instagram, the central stage, is being viewed critically: follower numbers of influencers are glossed over, pictorial languages are interchangeable, and paid partnerships are increasingly regarded as problematic. As a player in this scene, what do you think: Is the crash on Instagram imminent?
Sylvia Haghjoo: Too commercial profiles are often loud, unfiltered - and quite ostentatious. This certainly influences the self-perception of followers who ask themselves: why is this influencer jetting around the world, living in the most expensive hotels and dressed in designer fashion from head to toe? Why not me? Inspiration has long been out of the question. In the long run, this is unhealthy for the psyche - for influencers and followers alike.
Madame: Your account is defined by sophisticated content and artistic photo aesthetics. Compared to the big players in the industry, however, you have few followers. Nevertheless, big luxury brands like Chanel, Hermès, Jaeger-LeCoultre cooperate with you. How do you do that?
Julia Haghjoo: Every partnership we enter into is geared towards the long term. It should not just be a blink on the screen. Gimmickry is not our thing. This exclusivity is appreciated by the luxury industry.
Sylvia Haghjoo: It must be a win-win situation for all parties. One must not dilute one's profile. Companies should pay more attention to who they work with. Many get an influencer on board who has a large reach but doesn't really fit the brand philosophy.
Madame: What guidelines have you developed for your visual language?
Julia Haghjoo: We are not women who constantly have to post a selfie. We are more interested in light and shadow games in front of the camera. And in times of information and image overload, we have to pay very close attention to what we publish. We see ourselves as a curated magazine, as a visual poetry album of two creative minds.
Madame: How did you start?
Sylvia Haghjoo: I dreamed of studying photography at the Parsons School of Design in New York. But the studies for foreign students were too expensive by my standards. I was advised to try out my own photo blog in order to apply for a scholarship later. That was in 2010, and a year later I got my sister to join me. Because I couldn't pay Julia, but wanted to return the favor, I suggested a blog of my own. It just happened to become a profession.
Madame: You are sisters, friends and business partners. How good is family closeness in business?
Sylvia Haghjoo: Working with family members is never easy. You have to learn to separate your private and professional life, to accept each other's strengths and weaknesses, and to support each other on both good and bad days. Just like in a good partnership. It was also a hard way for us to make this experience.
Julia Haghjoo: We never saw each other as competitors, but at some point everything became too much. I moved out of our shared apartment, and we actually had no contact for a year. But we grew out of it. Well, after nine years, we couldn't be happier about this constellation.
Madame: What is not disclosed on Instagram?
Julia Haghjoo: The amount of time and the work processes behind our work. And we don't share anything private, we need a healthy distance to our public life.
Madame: Art is a common motif in your feed: Pictures like Picasso's recent ceramics make your accounts special.
Sylvia Haghjoo: Since childhood we have been painting and photographing. That's why our involvement with art feels quite natural. On our travels we have an iron rule: we always visit at least one museum or exhibition. Especially the fairs Tefaf, Art Basel and Fiac are at the top of our calendars.
Madame: You will soon move from Hamburg to Paris. Why?
Julia Haghjoo: We grew up in Hamburg. It was our gateway to the world. Now it's time to pitch our tents again in Paris and sharpen our profile and our network.
Sylvia Haghjoo: Our parents taught us that dreams have to come true. We feel that Paris is a good backdrop for our next chapter.
Sylvia, 30, and Julia Haghjoo, 26, were born in Hamburg. Her mother comes from Poland, her father from Iran.
Behind the scenes
Sylvia trained as a retail saleswoman at conceptstore Unger and then studied fashion management in her hometown. Julia joined her sister's blog immediately after graduating from high school in 2011 and also works as Art Director at Unger.
This year the sisters are moving their centre of life from Hamburg to Paris.