Aisha Baker is Athleisure

The newlywed blogger with an entrepreneurial spirit shares her sports-luxe flair

Words: Dylan Muhlenberg | Photography: Francois Visser

When Aisha Baker first started blogging seven years ago she was your typical emotional teenager, writing about toxic relationships, frenemies and breakups. Following a friend’s suggestion to stop bleeding her feed with overly wordy statuses, Aisha started Baked The Blog as an outlet to express herself. The platform became even more of a necessity after her parents insisted she study a business degree instead of her first love, fashion. Looking back, Baked the Blog is a time capsule that tracks Aisha’s life from emo teen, to fashion-mad student, to established blogger and now – the next chapter – married woman turning her brand into a bona fide business. 

“As a student I blogged about styling on a budget, being broke and sale shopping,” says Aisha. “Then after I’d qualified and started working, I wrote about make-up and office wear. It’s about growing with my audience and now I’m at a place where I’m turning the blog into a business and the next step, I suppose, is to launch a product and build a team where I can take a step back and not be the focus so much.”

Aisha was named after her grandmother, a woman who taught her everything she knows about clothing and fashion, and is the reason why she wanted to study fashion in the first place. 

“I was fascinated by her, how she always dressed up, loved sparkly things – very glam. She worked as a designer, wasn’t a good businesswoman though; a true creative who didn’t care about money and would literally exchange her designs for a meal. That’s why my parents put so much focus on me studying a business degree. And now I’m a suburban housewife.”

Marrying cricketer Wayne Parnell three weeks prior to our interview, Aisha may be playing house, but she still means business. And from her new home in the ‘burbs we follow her to town where she meets with her management team, Styling Concepts, at Baseline Coffee (also in Mason's Press) for a weekly strategy session, before catching up with her photographer, Tegan Smith, who has been a part of the blog since day one. 

“Tegan believed in me before I was anything. I told her that if she trusted me we’d eventually make a living out of this, and we’ve been working together for five years now.”

Always on the go, Aisha says that because her husband also has such a demanding job a lot of their communication happens over Facetime, Whatsapp, Snapchat and iMessage, and that they then follow each other on Twitter and Instagram in case they’ve missed anything. Playing for the Proteas and the Cape Cobras means that Wayne leads an extremely healthy lifestyle – something that his young bride is happy to buy into, breakfasting on smoothies and working out with him whenever she can. While it’s not necessarily part of her makeup, Aisha has always loved the fashion of fitness and now it’s just a matter of adopting the rest of the lifestyle.

“A lot of fashion girls are unhealthy and after turning 25 I realized that this blogger life of eating cupcakes and macaroons at every event wasn’t as easy to bounce back from anymore. I already own every sports brand you can think of, but I wear it to work – not to work out in – because I look for comfort and garments that will flatter my shape and give me a great feminine look. Now I’m slowly adopting the rest of the trend.”

Beyond comfort, fashion is an expressive art that allows us to choose who we’d like to be for the day every time we get dressed. Nicola Cooper, a lifestyle, pop and youth specialist who consults P&G, says that we’re buying into healthier lifestyles now where there’s a trend for editing our lives and seeking balance in everything we do. This major shift in lifestyle incorporates athleisure as part of a bigger movement, and Aisha believes that her identity comes through with what she chooses to wear, fusing her style with her personality. It’s her love of sneakers that’s resulted in athleisure becoming something of an unofficial uniform.

“I got into sneakers when I was six-years old, after my brother got a pair of Jordans and I had to get a pair, too. I found I could express myself better in sneakers, be a bit of a tomboy, and that evolved to a point where I always wore running shoes. I went really deep after I discovered a boutique sneaker store in town, and now I’m married to a sneakerhead.” 

As an entrepreneur who works on her own terms, Aisha is able to wear what she wants to work and believes that it’s the same for a lot of industries now where there’s a general dressing down and less formal take on what we wear to work. What’s also changed is how we take care of clothes, and Aisha should know, she’s been in the game from a young age.

“When I was 16 my mom punished me for, I’m not going to tell you what... The punishment was to do my own laundry for three months, which at the time I found really challenging, but as a result I really back myself when it comes to doing my own laundry now. She’s still the first person I call whenever I have any sort of wardrobe malfunction. My mom’s the stain removal queen.”

There’s also further assistance in the form of Ariel Auto Liquid, a product Aisha calls “goof proof,” and is particularly helpful when it comes to her unique make-up problem.

“I wear a lot of makeup and because of that I get makeup on everything. So now I pretreat my clothing where I’ll soak it in the product overnight."

By the time you read this Aisha would’ve turned 26, and will be on her way to join her husband in Barbados in the Caribbean, where he’s busy playing cricket. Aisha says that she’s looking forward to spending time with the other WAGs on tour, but it’s all quite new to her and that both her and Wayne still aren’t used to the celebrity that comes with what they do.

“My celebrity is accidental. I actually hate being put on celebrity lists. Wayne is far more high-profile, but doesn’t see himself that way at all. The other day he saw AKA at the airport and texted me freaking out. I told him to go introduce himself, as he loves his music, and so he did it and later AKA put up a pic on his Instagram and Wayne said, ‘Oh my word, he knew who I was?’”

Aisha is part of an exclusive running club called The Nine Four, meaning she ends her day with some of the other famous faces from the scene. This club was initially Wayne’s idea of getting his wife to exercise more regularly, but since falling in with the fast crowd here, she now meets at The Burrow for social runs with her crew whenever she can.

“The Nine Four is a running club for creative people who are stuck behind laptops all day, or who maybe don’t get to see other people because we work on our own. So what Paul Ward, our captain, has done, is create a space where we do a quick 5km, and then come back to our hub where we can be ourselves. A lot of running clubs are kind of serious and intimidating, whereas here there’s a really nice camaraderie and it’s more social than anything else.” 

Whether Aisha is running her household, running her business or running with her running crew, athleisure is able to meet the demands of every aspect of her life and she’s confident in the knowledge that there’s a product that can protect her gear from whatever life throws at her.