Interview with model and social media influencer Nastya Swan

Nastya Swan is a young 18yr old Russian-born model, social media influencer and artist based in New York.  Through her dedication and commitment, she has become a role-model for many young people across the globe, inspiring them to be more self-confident and stand up for what they believe. As a model she was even a cover-girl on ELLE magazine in Russia and already worked for several preeminent fashion brands.

In less than five years, Nastya has built over 851k Instagram followers and 602k subscribers on YouTube, receiving over 35 million views for her video blogs. Her aim is to inspire people and become a role model for young people, especially women, who increasingly lack self-confidence and seek motivation. Not surprisingly, big fashion labels like Bershka, Maybelline and Dolce&Gabbana (to name a few) spotted the opportunity and approached Nastya to model for them on Instagram and YouTube.

Nastya believes the chance to talk and be heard is a precious freedom in society, which drives her to discuss emotive topics about confidence, self-care, well-being and freedom – across many social platforms. She opened-up to us more about this passion in an interview on Instagram; discussing how she started; her modelling work; which brands she works with and how she interacts with her followers on a daily basis. 

Nastya, you have 851k Instagram followers. Did you know from the beginning that you would become so popular on social media? How did it all start?

When I was 13 years old I was an absolutely fearless and dreamy girl, but I suffered from a feeling of neglect with a lack of attention being shown from my family, mainly because they were always busy with their own work. I decided one day to create a YouTube channel to share my life with other people. I told myself that I just wanted to find voices of support and empathy all around the world. I had been sharing my travels, interests, and thoughts on certain situations in my life and people started to follow me and moreover, started to relate. 

I got bullied at school for doing something unusual, which is obvious, but I knew that I was on the right path, so I never considered the need to stop creating the content and put it out. While all my teenage friends were drinking, partying or hanging out, I was basically growing my own business. My passion was fuel for my work and every day I tried to improve my skills in editing, shooting videos and talking openly to the camera. I’m proud and happy that I kept myself busy from such a young age. Now, I could not be more grateful for the audience I have built, because they always support me, get my back and don’t let me give up. After 3 years of rapid growth in my YouTube channel, I was brave enough to leave Russia and move to NYC, because I truly believe that this place has magical energy and presents real opportunities to create and be who you want. Now that I am here in New York, lots of new people have started to follow me extremely quickly because they identified with my issues and felt like they are a part of my life.

What are your posts all about and how do you interact with your followers?

In every post I try my best to provide support to people, because I know that on the other side of the screen is a girl or boy who wants to feel a more valuable, confident and loved person. I give advice on improving health, happiness, and motivation.

You are widely considered as a model who is already impacting significantly on the fashion industry, as one of the best examples showing that a fashion company needs more a successful model on a social network than on a traditional runway. With which brands have you already collaborated and what is your best project to date as an Instagram model and influencer?

I’m really honored to tell you that recently I have worked with Zara, Bershka, Under Armour, Nike, Puma, Dolce Gabbana, Elle, Harpers Bazaar, Maybelline, La Mer, Estée Lauder and Guess...

All the brands have their own concept and message to bring to people, so every experience has inspired me to provide a different angle or vision. My favorite experience was with Maybelline, when I shot a TV commercial for the Russian media with the main Maybelline makeup artist, who showed me many tricks to improve my facial looks. And after I attended a private late night event on a rooftop where I met great, talented people and artists. The next day I was interviewing Adriana Lima, who is the face of the brand. So yes, being a part of the Maybelline team was an unforgettable experience.  

What is your best advice for people who want to become Instagram fashion or lifestyle bloggers?

Never compare yourself to other successful people. You will never know when they really began their business properly on Instagram or how hard they work during the night. Just be yourself. You have your life, your heart, your body and you should be proud and confident enough to say that you are unique. If they don’t accept the way you are, it’s their problem, not yours. Let people judge, just smile back and be focused on your aims. 

You achieved popularity as a teen model in Europe. Can you tell us a little bit about your modelling work beginnings?

My mum was a ‘Miss Russia’ in the past, so she was always my number one inspiration. She told me many stories about her modelling experience and I saw them as fantastic fairytales. I always knew that I wanted to be closer to the fashion industry so I started to follow the magazines, models, and designers to learn how the whole “kitchen” works. It’s a really tough industry but it’s art where you can express yourself. I always wanted to be heard and to be valuable to the world I’m in, so it made me feel really passionate about it. My first shoot happened at 13 years old for the Russian brands’ catalogue and since then I realised that it’s where I belong. 

What are your best accomplishments so far as a model?

I can’t be more grateful that brands started to invite me to model more and more as I grew my social media presence.

“My first memorable job was a cover shoot for ELLE magazine in Russia. Then I remember how Bershka flew me to Barcelona for a few days to shoot in the studio for the new collection.”

The best thing I like about modeling is that you feel that people value your personality, they respect who you are. They believe that you can sell their product better than other models, so they hire you for the job.

The coolest job you had as a model is…

I realised that modelling can be really creative; sometimes you shoot outside, sometimes in the studio, sometimes it’s a TV commercial. I remember my first TV interview for a Russian channel called “ Первый Канал» it’s the biggest one in the Country, so I was confident and focused because it’s what I want to do, it’s been my dream since I was born. 

Do you have any special projects coming up?

Of course, I’m working on a lot of projects at the same time but I never share them before they become reality. Just stay tuned and I’m more than happy to let you know as soon as they are ready! 

Photo credit: Maxim Moshkin