Nayna Florence Patel (@naynaflorence) is a 20-year-old influencer from London who studies at Edinburgh University. She has 202k subscribers on YouTube, and if that isn’t enough she also has 80.7k Instagram followers and recently became a podcaster. Her ethos consists of veganism and maintaining a sustainable lifestyle while being a student. She manages to build a connection with her followers which feels more like a friendship than anything else. Let's get to know her a little better ...
Edinburgh - a guide to Edinburgh during a pandemic - Okay, that was all that was just like the little like Edinburgh guidance.
R: So you study at Edinburgh University and have spent the past semester there. What have been your favourite things to do while being restricted by the pandemic?
N: I recommend visiting Portobello beach, I sometimes even go swimming in the sea! I went to Stockbridge for the first time this semester, and it is nice, with some good charity shops.
R: Since you are a big foodie, what are your favourite Edinburgh take-aways?
N: Hula is an all-time favourite. I also love Brochan, the porridge place in Marchmont and Paradise Palms.
R: How do you balance the work that your degree in Economics demands of you, with creating content for Youtube, Instagram and now a podcast as well?
N: Being organised and disciplined. I make lots of to-do lists and also try to have separation. So I'll try and do uni work in the library and then YouTube stuff at home. To be honest it is not that hard though. After a long day of University work, I am genuinely looking forward to editing a video or something. I find it enjoyable.
R: After finishing your degree do you think you will want to go into a job that is Economics focused or would you consider giving all your time to this career you have created for yourself?
N: I don't think I'd ever want to do solely this. I think what makes my content interesting is the fact that other things are going on in my life. Additionally, I think it's the kind of thing that if you were like relying on it for an income, it would be really stressful and potentially damaging to your mental health as it is all relying on other people's opinion of you. But I also don't know if I'd necessarily want to do something in Economics, I think I’d prefer to go into a business-focused career, or maybe humanitarian.
R: You started your YouTube channel in July 2018 but often speak about wanting to start it up way before then. So I was wondering what gave you that final push of confidence to go for it?
N: I think I was just scared of what people at school would think. I started it up when I finished school so I had the mindset that either no one could say anything or if they did, I could just cut them out. I wouldn’t have to see them anymore. Also, because I was going to University I thought that'd be interesting to document my time and look back on it even if I never posted the videos or anything. It would just be cool for me.
R: Let’s talk about the growth of your channel - you are now at 202k subscribers which let’s be honest is a huge amount of people. What do you think were the main contributing factors to this growth?
N: I feel like in part, you just kind of get lucky with some videos getting pushed to loads of people. I also try to make videos that are what I would like to watch and I try to have a different style of editing I guess. But honestly, I'd love to know why as well.
R: Do you feel like you've come to terms of this growth yet?
N: It feels unreal to me, especially because so much of the growth was during the pandemic. So I haven't gone to meet anyone or done anything like that, so it just looks like a number on a screen sometimes. In short, no definitely not.
R: What is your favourite thing about doing all of this?
N: Building a following and having people to talk to that are interested in the same things that I am. That's cool. Also because my degree is maths based and academic, it's cool to have something a bit more creative to put effort into. Especially this year I don't know what I would have done with my time if I didn't have all of this.
R: You have recently started a podcast ‘Growing With The Flow’. I know you are a fan of podcasts - can you tell us your 3 favourites?
N: The High Low is amazing but that has just ended. It is hard to narrow it down but I also love What We Said and the Deliciously Ella podcast.
R: What made you want to branch out into podcasting?
N: I think some topics don’t work well in video form because it's just me talking and I don't feel that makes for an interesting video. Also, the length of a podcast is a lot longer than a video so you can go into more depth. I always just want to be part of the things I like. I liked watching YouTube videos so I decided to make some, and I like listening to podcasts so I started recording them.
R: For those who haven’t listened yet, what kind of content can they expect to hear.
N: I want it to be a mix of stuff. I've done an episode on veganism and a couple of chatty episodes as well. I will also be covering topics such as sustainability and the pressures of University and imposter syndrome. I think whatever's relevant at the time as well.
R: How has the reception been from the first three episodes you have already released?
N: I think it's been really good. Podcasts are a bit different from YouTube because there's no comments or likes or anything. There have been a few reviews and I have positive DMs about it.
Morals and ethics
R: You have been vegan for 5 years now. How have you found maintaining the lifestyle and has it gotten easier over the years in terms of your personal growth and also how society has shifted?
N: For me, at the start, I was focusing more on the health benefits, whereas now I do it more for the environmental benefits for the planet and animals. I think it's easier to maintain something if you're doing it for other people than yourself. In terms of more widely, I think it's become a lot more accessible. You can buy way more stuff in supermarkets and most restaurants will have at least one vegan option now. So that's better. Additionally, there's a lot more in the news and just in general, on social media etc., about climate change, and that sort of thing. So I think that's changed a lot in the last five years.
R: It was more recently that you decided to boycott fast fashion brands and only shop second hand (like from depop and charity shops) or from ethical, sustainable stores. What made you decide to adopt this lifestyle, and how would you encourage others to do the same?
N: I watched a couple of documentaries on it and I got emotionally invested in that sort of thing. Once you have been shown the truth of where clothes are coming from, I find it difficult to ignore. It is important to remember that anything you do to make a change is positive. It doesn't have to be like all or nothing.
R: What is your favourite vegan Christmas food?
N: I love a nut roast, although I think we are having a mushroom Wellington this year as my whole family is now vegan.
R: Finally what Christmas day activities do you enjoy the most?
N: We don't have loads of crazy traditions. We normally go on a walk and I like a board game as well. My favourite is articulate.
Nayna was interviewed by Rachel Watkins, a third year Economics and Politics student at the University of Edinburgh.