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Authenticity through fashion: UCLA influencer Azaila Jules shares her story

Donning a blush pink dress with puffed sleeves, Azaila Jules holds a heart shaped cake with a UCLA Bruin on it. Jules is a first-year student who makes fashion and lifestyle content on Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. (Courtesy of Azaila Jules)

By Sydney Gaw

April 13, 2024 1:58 p.m.

This post was updated April 14 at 7:33 p.m.

Azaila Jules is using fashion and lifestyle content to promote positivity and creative exploration.

Known mononymously across Instagram, YouTube and TikTok by her username @axaila, Jules said her content includes a range of media, from lifestyle vlogs and comedic skits to curated outfits and style choices. The first-year film and television student said her social media journey started in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic during her sophomore year of high school. To her surprise, Jules said she gained a following online after posting a viral “What I Wear in a Week” video.

“It was just me putting cute little outfits together,” Jules said. “It wasn’t even my pink aesthetic, just outfits that I thought were cute.”

(Courtesy of Azaila Jules)
Sporting bright pink hair and a top with light pastel stripes, Azaila Jules takes a selfie. The first-year student and digital content creator said her primary audience consists of girls and young women. (Courtesy of Azaila Jules)

[Related: UCLA alumnus strives to help others feel seen, represented through social media]

After receiving widespread support online, Jules said she was inspired to continue documenting her fashion as a mode of self-expression. Three years later, she has reached over 224,000 followers on Instagram and 237,000 on TikTok. From her clothes to her brightly colored hair, Jules said she developed a love for curating outfits and sharing them on social media. She said her style, which often falls into the categories of ‘kawaii’ and ‘softcore,’ is largely influenced by Harajuku street fashion and characterized by its array of pastels, pinks and accessories.

“A lot of people said they really liked my personality, that they liked my outfits … and that’s when I started to be more comfortable expressing myself,” Jules said. “A way of me expressing myself is through my fashion and through my outfits and through my clothes and also through my hair.”

Originally from Philadelphia, Jules credits much of her creative exploration and success to having attended a performing arts school that nurtured her love for acting and dancing. These artistic outlets allowed her to channel her extroverted personality and express herself in visually creative ways, she said.

Despite only having started to document her style in the last three years, Jules said her fashion journey started long before her online presence gained popularity. Often drawing inspiration from TikTok and Instagram, Jules said she was always eager to replicate the styles and outfits she came across on social media. It was only when the COVID-19 pandemic started that Jules finally took the first step in creating and posting her content on a public platform, she said. Since her social media accounts have gained popularity, Jules said it has been especially important to her to keep being authentically herself.

Jules said her main motivation for creating content is the hope that she will inspire others to express themselves creatively and not be afraid to showcase their passions. Jules’ close friend and fellow content creator Marielle Caldwell said she particularly admires Jules’ commitment to authenticity and willingness to venture outside of her comfort zone.

However, being in the public eye comes with immense social pressure to conform to certain fashion trends or reach a specific audience, Jules said. To confront the fear of judgment that many social media influencers face, Jules said she chooses to focus on the positive culture her accounts have cultivated and credits her creative agency and desire to try new things to her online audience, which consists mainly of girls and young women. In appealing to her audience, she said her main objective is to stay true to herself.

Since moving to Los Angeles, Jules has made strides in connecting with other local social media influencers, said Soleil Callueng, a digital content creator and friend of Jules. Callueng said she and Jules had been mutual followers on Instagram and TikTok before finally meeting in person at last year’s VidCon. Both influencers had expressed a mutual interest in fashion and lifestyle content, which Callueng said inspired them to join their colleges’ respective REACH clubs with the goal of growing their network and meeting other influencers.

“I can tell that she just wants to make content that makes other people happy, that inspires other people,” Callueng said. “That makes her happy as well.”

(Courtesy of Azaila Jules)
As blue balloons spelling out “UCLA” are displayed in the backdrop of her room, Azaila Jules raises an arm beaming with joy. The first-year student said she films most of her content in her hometown of Philadelphia so she can focus on academics in Los Angeles. (Courtesy of Azaila Jules)

[Related: Student Ranen Chang combines food and fashion to connect creative community]

In addition to her social media accounts, Jules also operates her own online business called Axaila’s Closet, which features branded clothing items and other accessories that showcase her personal aesthetic.

Beyond fashion, Jules said she is an aspiring filmmaker and hopes to dabble in directing and producing. To prioritize her education while studying at UCLA, Jules said she films much of her content while at home in Philadelphia and works on editing videos once back in LA. Jules said she hopes her skills in style curation and digital media will continue to fuel her many ambitions within the fashion, film and entertainment industries.

In reminding her audience members to stay true to themselves, Jules said she encourages aspiring content creators to put in the work to do what they love. While it can be difficult to find one’s niche, Jules said her advice for building a platform is to take advantage of hashtags and other digital advertising features that can increase an account’s visibility on Instagram or TikTok. Beyond maximizing online platforms, it is important to demonstrate a genuine passion for the interests one is trying to promote, Jules said. For others hoping to build an online presence or become social media influencers, she added that consistency is key.

“Just being consistent and being happy with what you’re creating and what you’re putting out there is way more important than how many likes you’re getting or views you’re getting,” Jules said. “At the end of the day, that’s just really irrelevant. Just have fun with it.”

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