Divya Amarnani Noelwas born and raised on the Caribbean island of Grenada and is of East Indian descent. Her parents are from Chennai and Delhi. Her upbringing was heavily influenced by her Indian culture but she strongly identifies with her Caribbean culture as well.
Divya currently manages her parents’ retail/wholesale business located in the heart of the city in St. George’s, Grenada. This is her full time job. Divya is also a blogger/content creator and her blog, Amarnani XO is filled with personal stories, skincare advice and travel diaries."
SB-C: Tell us more about who you are, your background, etc. DN: My name is Divya Amarnani Noel. I am East Indian and I identify as a Spiritual Hindu. My parents are from Chennai and Delhi in India. I was born and brought up on the Spice Isle Grenada with a strong sense of my Indian culture and heritage. My Caribbean culture developed as I attended school. I completed my primary, secondary and tertiary education right here in Grenada. I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at the St. George’s University. I have a Diploma in Advanced Makeup Artistry from College of Make Up Art in Toronto, Canada. My course taught me all disciplines of makeup artistry including prosthetic, film and television and special effects makeup. I lived and worked in Canada for 3 years. My primary job was at MAC cosmetics for 1 year. I’ve been a professional freelance makeup artist for the past 12 years. I am passionate about makeup, skincare, travel, Indian Cinema (Bollywood), blogging, art, history and theology. I have had a background in business for many years since my parents own and run a retail/wholesale department store in the heart of the city in Grenada. It has been established since the 1970’s. I am now in the position of managing it myself. It’s a full time job and I am proud to be a business woman. I get many wonderful opportunities to travel for merchandising. There’s no better feeling than running your own business despite the hard work. SB-C: You are a blogger and beauty consultant, how did this all begin? DN: I decided to branch out from solely makeup application and focus on product love. I reached a peak in my makeup artistry career where I honestly didn’t feel passionate about makeup application anymore. While refreshing my passions, I found blogging along the journey. I love the combination of beauty and blogging and I’ve also made a 2018 goal to share more beauty related posts on my Instagram and Blog. Aside from beauty blogging I came across a niche topic. I noticed that as an Indian girl born and growing up in the Caribbean, I didn’t identify with anyone in my environment. No one looked like me or could relate to my experiences. I really wanted to share my thoughts. There was a point in time I’d never speak about what I felt and experienced out of fear of being judged or ridiculed. After starting my blog I realized it was my duty to share my feelings regarding being different. I’ve found that my personal posts on my blog were most the appreciated and diverse conversations were now open. In early 2017, I started a group on Facebook that has now turned into a community of Grenadian Bloggers. I am proud to say that in 2017, we did a lot of valuable work together and thrive as a community, learn from each other and share ideas and experiences. We have put blogging on the map in Grenada. Local companies and businesses have recognized us and reach out to us for promotional work and invite us to events showcasing their businesses.
SB-C: What would you say is the biggest challenge of being a blogger? DN: I would say we have 2 major challenges being bloggers in Grenada which are location and opportunity. We live in paradise and we can’t complain about that but because of geographic location, we do struggle to be discovered. Web traffic and IG discovery is more challenging in our region of the world. Opportunities have just started opening up for bloggers, however, they are few and in between. I wouldn’t say that there are enough opportunities for any one blogger to sustain a full time business online. Blogging is big business in more developed countries so being a smaller island where blogging is a relatively newer business strategy, we are at a disadvantage at this stage. SB-C: What aspects of lifestyle does your blog focus on? DN: I tend to focus my blogs on my personal journey and experiences. I write about my Indian culture and the challenges I face living in a country where it’s sometimes misunderstood. I have a full page dedicated to skincare. I have been suffering with acne for a few years and I post personal remedies as well as advice for people with acne and also regular skin care advice. I write about events that I attend locally and create travel diaries when I’m on business in another country or on vacation. Usually I accompany events and travel diaries with a vlog (video log) which I share on my blog as well as my YouTube channel. I always think of my blog as a living log. What I mean by this is that it grows as I grow and evolve. I initially started off my blog thinking I would write about makeup reviews solely and then it took on its own life. I love writing about what I’m passionate about and I’ll always keep my blog space true to who I am as a person.
SB-C: Why do you think blogging has become so popular? DN: I think blogging has become so popular because of the trend of everyone searching for information online. Those who are able to provide information, gather a following and thus become influencers. Influencers reach many people and in some cases hundreds of thousands and even millions of people. It has become an easy way to spread a message or market a service or product. When a blogger/influencer is providing certain type of information they are now niche marketers. SB-C: The "Musings" section of your website is filled with many of your personal stories. How does sharing your personal story help you connect with your followers? DN: When I first started sharing personal stories, it was on my Tumblr page many years ago. I kept it there because it was a safe space where no one would see what I wrote. I didn’t have any followers. I wasn’t sure that anyone would care about my experiences. Sometimes I feared there would be some backlash for conversations I would open up. When I started Amarnani XO I decided to share personal thoughts and musings and to my surprise those blog posts have been my more popular posts til date. They sparked conversations, created awareness and connected me to some new people and friends. It’s so important to stay true to who you are and only then can you truly blossom and share what matters to you with the world. I am humbled by the love and support I gained in the past year and I love my blog space and followers. I am learning everyday to share more of who I am. SB-C: Where would you like your blog to be positioned in say, the next five years? DN: I would love my blog space to inspire others. I want to gather a following of people who have always felt out of place and don’t know where to turn especially in the Caribbean. I’d like to show people who belong to cultures where they can’t find someone else to identify with, that they have a safe space and they aren’t alone. Being Indian and growing up in Grenada, I was ridiculed and I always felt isolated. I was bullied as a child right up til my teens. I was always insecure about my hair, my skin, my facial features. I was made to believe my religion and culture were wrong and blasphemous and that I was ugly and had no place. I want my blog to be a space to share experiences and show people who look and feel different that they aren’t alone. That they have the same right to dream big, break barriers and succeed in life. SB-C: What words of encouragement do you have for the aspiring blogger? DN: Stay true to who you are and the right followers will come along. The worst thing is to try to pretend to fit into a mold or try to do what everyone else is doing. You will wonder why you feel unfulfilled and aren’t attracting the followers you want or followers who will engage with your posts. It will take a while to build a following as well so don’t focus on quantity of followers but rather the quality of ones you want. It’s so important to have input and comments from people who care what you blog about. Even if you start off your blog not knowing what your niche is, just keep at it and you will find your groove. Grow your blog as you grow. Blog for love and passion, not numbers.