Ashma John is a Guyanese fashion blogger with a colourful style to expressing what’s on her mind. Her blog Online Runway offers photos, commentary and opinion and not just on fashion.
Ashma knows that fashion blogs are not used as marketing tools here as they are elsewhere, but she still goes about her day thinking of ways she can influence local fashion.
She notes that while fashion blogs are controlled by companies who use the marketing tool her blog is solely about expression, making an impression and a little advice on everything from pageantry to what to wear.
A Libra-born city girl and one of and one of 7 siblings, Ashma admits that she was a little frisky as a girl, especially when her parents were away on business. She would take a wayward path, doing her own things and this time often allowed her find interests in many other things – such as fashion for one. She loved dressing up and as a little girl when make-up was a luxury only to be worn at special occasions, she loved those times when she was allowed to wear it. She anticipated ballet lessons at the Let’s Dance Studio where she would wear make-up at the productions to her delight. Ashma enjoyed reading books and looking at movies, her imagination always ran like wildfire and this influenced many of her ambitions today.
After secondary school, Ashma began to travel internationally but she has a certain regret not travelling the length and breadth of her own country. She has visited Berbice lots of times, went to Linden once, but has never been to Essequibo, which she thinks is a bit sad. One day, she said, she will set out on a journey to discover more of Guyana.
Tertiary education took Ashma to the UK where she read for a degree in International Business at the University of Glamorgan, now called the University of South Wales. After a two-month break, during which she worked at UK fashion chain Next in Wales, she moved on to complete a Master’s degree in International Fashion Marketing; a choice which a few people viewed with disdain. “I was dating this guy at the time and I approached him with my course of studies and my general idea of fashion and he thought it was a bit frivolous… because fashion is not taken seriously here. [He had] a point but I really didn’t care, I just wanted to study what I loved,” Ashma said.
Turning to Online Runway, Ashma said, “It’s like my personal diary, but written in a slant that offers something different than most other fashion blogs.”
The blog is highly referenced on social media and has captured the attention of many; Ashma has gained a lot of recognition through her work. Just a few months ago she featured as an interviewer and guest judge on the reality television show, Guyana’s Next Top Model.
Feedback from readers is a big motivator, but Ashma revealed that she really does the blog for herself. “Some play golf, I talk about clothes,” she said.
New ideas can come from just about anywhere. “All over really… I travel a lot and I reflect a lot on past experiences. I spend a lot of time on the internet looking at shows, on different e-stores and I try to reflect on my daily life. As for my style, as a women I dress for whatever mood I am in and I try to pay attention to every single detail in my life, past and present to influence my work on a whole.” Giving her views on the Guyanese sense of style and Caribbean fashion, Ashma said one of the things she likes about Guyanese is their willingness to try anything. Unfortunately this also has a downside, they are only willing to try anything that has already been touched. Ashma believes people are not all willing to take risks and that this has to do with the invasion of television, US broadcasts and social media. “We also have not had strong designers elevating themselves, and adding our own unique sense of fashion. On top of that we have had a lot of external influences; people have just tagged along with whatever is popular and did not develop their own identity.”
Her social life is, well… very social. She attends events, mainly fashion-based and would go out to enjoy a beer. “I am really happy when I am drinking beer; it is a habit I got from Wales,” she explained, adding that she keeps to her limit and does not overdo it.
She loves to read and is addicted to a website called ‘The Business of Fashion’. “It’s like the BBC for fashion news,” she said. She likes meeting new people and working constructively for her blog. Aside from writing she works with her parents.
Ashma is engaged but she does not think she will be starting a family anytime soon. “I don’t like to plan too much, but at the same time I have a general overview of my future,” she said. She would really like to promote the blog at a regional level, which would give it wider international scope. “This is something that a content marketing pay cheque cannot give you. It’s very satisfying. As long as I can keep that going, that is where I want my career to be,” she said.