Local influencers open up their bags and hearts to The Way of Us
Photography: Karl Rogers
Is it just us who, having seen Mary Poppins pull a pot plant, lampshade and hat stand from her handbag, have since been attempting to carry our entire lives plus the kitchen sink in ours?
No need to answer now – but either way, it’s comforting to know that while childhood dreams of umbrella-assisted flight weren’t attainable, an accessory like her bag of tricks is within our grasp.
No longer must we edit down our lifestyle and whether you’re a fussy fitness fanatic or scatter-brained shutter bug, we’re now able to have it all and stay fresh while doing the most.
In partnership with Orbit, Superbalist selected six fashion influencers and then asked them to spill both the contents of their bags and what was on their minds. Scroll down to see what a blogger, socialite, fit-girl, photographer, and twin models carry around with them at all times.
Fashion enthusiast and online influencer Aisha Baker has transitioned Baked The Blog’s inspirational and expressive fashion and lifestyle content into a brand. Ten years in the game have prepared her for the next phase, “a proper website with a product offering, the Refinery29 of South Africa, which aligns with me growing from a girl into a woman.”
She's married to professional cricketer Wayne Parnell, who’s not only quite comfortable holding Aisha’s bag, but had the good taste to pick it out, too.
“Wayne bought my bag in Barbados because it’s got a gazillion pockets for me to carry all my things. One’s just for slips, which I keep for tax purposes – all these coffee dates add up.”
Along with “a year's worth of till slips,” there’s plenty of gift vouchers, hand sanitiser, eight different lipsticks, “because you never know which one you want”, and perfume. Her bag also serves as something of a dispensary: “I’m at the age now whenever someone needs a tissue or a painkiller or a lozenge, I’ve got it.”
Her use of gum is as imaginative as you’d expect.
“Because I have braces now, gum is even more important than before. Nobody wants bad breath and then when they tighten the braces and a wire starts to scrape against my cheek I’ll stick a piece against the part that’s cutting into me. It’s also a bit of a conversation starter. Whenever I want to break the ice I’ll pop a piece into my mouth and then offer some to the other person.”
Niquita Bento is a Cape Town-based photographer and creative who left Elle to pursue that enviable freelance life. Because her style needs to reflect her lifestyle, the self-described “sneaker girl” can often be found carrying as many as three bags.
“There’s my laptop bag, a backpack which I use to carry my camera equipment, and my handbag’s filled with whatever else I need.”
The state of that handbag is, uh, interesting…
“I have a really bad habit of leaving my bag open and will often get stopped in the mall by a stranger telling me to close it. Probably because it’s such a mess. Nobody needs to see inside that. I try to be neat, but I’m a creative – at least that’s my excuse.”
Niquita sets aside regular times to clean out all the random things she collects in the course of a week, which include till slips, contact sheets, references, wrappers, tissues and because she used to work as a flyer girl she’s unable to pass a promotion without grabbing a leaflet.
“I keep snacks in my bag, popcorn or dried mango, and won’t leave the house without my power bank, because if that dies I die. I always have hand cream. And perfume. And my diary for bookings and ticking off the daily to-do-list. And gum...”
Because while it’s one thing scaring people with the contents of your bag, there shouldn't be anything alarming about your breath.
“To freshen up I’ll fix my hair, put a lipstick on, spray on some perfume and chew gum. The Bubblemint Orbit is the best and tastes just like that star toothpaste I used as a kid. It’s the perfect mix of bubblegum and nostalgia.”
Before she was a personal trainer, nutritional advisor, SWEAT1000 instructor, and wellness and lifestyle blogger, Candice Bodington was just a girl who couldn’t fit her full name into her Instagram handle. Candibod worked, and life imitated Instagram after she became what many would describe as #bodygoals.
“After quitting my job as a graphic designer I studied personal training and nutrition and took to sharing my love and excitement for health and wellness. So these days my bag is mostly a gym bag, as I start most days at 6am with a class and will then see clients throughout the day.”
Candice says that because she sweats all day, and feels that she’d look ridiculous with makeup running down her face, that instead of makeup her bag contains things like, “A diary because time management is the biggest hurdle to overcome. The first thing I’d say to someone thinking about starting their own business is to get a diary. It sounds so lame but writing it down instead of keeping stuff on your phone and computer makes life so much easier.”
Candibod also always keeps a few pieces of fruit with her.
“I normally eat quite a plant based diet, but if I go out I won’t restrict myself and will eat whatever, so I also carry around digestive enzymes that help me to digest other types of food better.”
And then don’t leave home without the following gym equipment…
“I’ll usually have deodorant, a skipping rope, a Theraband, which is a resistance band that you use to train, and gum. I need to stay fresh for my clients and gum is always good because coffee breath is the actual worst.”
The founder of fashion and lifestyle blog Sleepless In Soweto is part of a new generation of South Africans making a career from sharing their story.
Twiggy’s hair has changed since the last time we met, and by all accounts, yes, blondes do have more fun. However, while her hair can change, Twiggy likes to keep the same bag and has been known to rely on her old faithful.
“If it’s a night out I don’t want to carry anything too big. Unless I have a meeting where I need to carry my laptop, then I’ll go for a bigger bag, but if it’s everyday then it’s this. Which is really small. I don’t keep too much in there, actually.”
Oh really, Twiggy? Spill it out, let’s see what you got.
“I can’t go anywhere without my power bank because my phone will die in like an hour. There’s earphones if I need to avoid people. My lip balm, hand cream, a notebook and pen, and then sunglasses and eye glasses because I can’t see. My camera. And a lipstick if I’m wearing makeup that day.” For not a lot of stuff, that’s adding up rather quickly.
“It’s actually quite a mess in there and you can see that I don’t ever put my cards or change back into my purse and so that all goes back into the bag. At least my gum is in the right place. I’m very fussy about staying fresh and I’ll always have gum in my bag. It’s a respect thing and also helps with all the flying that I do. Can’t leave home without it.”
The 21-year-old twins have lent their look to brands like Coke, Telkom and Standard Bank. However, it’s a different part of the industry where they’re focussing their long-term goals and are studying clothing management and retail respectively.
While their studies are different, the pair shares almost everything else, and even finish one another's sentences. They agree that it’s best to just attribute everything to the both of them.
“We share clothes. We do everything together. This might be a bit too personal: we even shower together. Water restrictions, you know. Trying to save the planet.”
The fashion-loving pair have grown up attuned to their own style and say that it was perhaps being a twin that’s pushed them to express themselves through fashion instead of blending in to the crowd.
So what do fashion-forward sisters carry in their bag to help them get through castings and their studies?
“We love a bag that’s super casual. Something big enough to keep everything in. All the essentials. Vaseline. Lipgloss. Charger. Earphones. Shades. Yes, definitely shades. An apple? And gum! We’re addicted to gum. It’s an essential part of feeling fresh. Carry a perfume. Some makeup. And some gum. Then you can touch up. And spritz. And chew to stay fresh on the go.”