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In Your Eyes: The business of being Onyi Moss

Before Onyi Moss appears on screen, you see the briefest glimpse of a logo. It’s a soft pink with gentle curves and disappears in a flash, replaced by a scene that is about as far away from the usual Zoom call as one could expect. No imposing bookcases and business casual here, Onyi is the very definition of glamour, sitting in front of a huge Rococo-style mirror and immaculate in satin floral pyjamas.
Of course, Onyi’s image is her business and the luxuriant stories she shares in her career as a content creator are the result of careful curation, well-researched execution and a savvy understanding of her audience. She has amassed over 165,000 followers on Instagram, who value her style, positive energy and stories of ‘timeless romance’. It’s no exaggeration to say that scrolling through her images feels soothing – like a spa for the eyes. But effortless doesn’t come easy and Onyi is completely up front about her journey from unemployment in a new country (she relocated to the UK from Nigeria) to online success. “I’m actually a chartered accountant, but I quickly realised that in the UK experience is valued more than having a qualification. So, that saw me sit at home for a good year, not having a job.” She admits to spending a lot of time watching reality TV (“I was so into it!”) before stumbling upon a programme about fashion bloggers and having an epiphany… and taking a big risk. “So, that month, I didn’t pay my rent and ordered a Canon EOS 600D and a 50mm lens and said to myself ‘I’d better learn to use this camera!’”

A woman stands on a train platform, wearing a black dress, with pastel-coloured floral trims and holding a small pink handbag, as though reaching inside. An old-fashioned red train sits on the tracks and three men in vintage conductors’ uniforms stand nearby.
“I just wore a black dress. I don’t know why I wore it. Lo and behold, the people at the museum’s uniforms exactly matched with my black dress. And it felt like I was being transported to this different moment in time. So, the story just came together beautifully.” © Onyi Moss
A woman in a wide-brimmed straw hat and blue sleeveless summer dress perches on a ledge between a plaster column and a wall, lifting her skirt to show a bare leg and bare feet. Her face is covered by the hat.
“Things that people might neglect – a wall that’s derelict – I would embrace to show you that there is beauty in it. There’s a story locked in it and I’m getting to have my story associated with it. It’s a way to connect with people I’ve never met." © Onyi Moss

Working day and night
Being an influencer might seem like the dream lifestyle, but Onyi admits that at first it was incredibly hard. Plus, just a month after buying her first camera, she landed a job as a Financial Accountant, which for many might have put an end to her determined self-tuition in photography. But Onyi was undeterred and continued her deep dive into YouTube lessons, blogging and shooting her own stories, often editing and practising until 3am. After around a year and a half of pulling the night shift, she began to get noticed by brands and the workload increased to the point where a decision had to be made. “It was getting to the point where I was turning down these job offers,” she explains. “So, I said to myself, I’ve always wanted to be creative; I might as well give this six-months and see where it leads. And if nothing happens, I’ve got my qualification, I’ve got experience, I can fall back on that.” She turned professional as a content creator and influencer in May 2017 and never looked back.
Developing an aesthetic
The gentle, romantic luxury that is Onyi’s signature style isn’t in any way contrived. She has simply taken the day-to-day things she loves and amplified their role in her life – elevating something as simple as having a cup of tea to an aspirational moment. “Flowers, books, tea, nature… I’m tuning into the things that make me happy.” She connects these physical joys with wider influences to create an aesthetic that is part silver-screen opulence and part period drama with a heady splash of the kind of on-location glamour you’d see in Condé Nast Traveller. She has a knack for discovering overlooked spaces and contrasting them with clever fashion choices. “I get a lot of messages asking ‘are you sure you live in Manchester? I’ve never noticed these places.’ They do exist. You just need to pay attention.”

I didn't pay my rent and ordered
a Canon EOS600D and a 50mm lens and said to myself 'I'd
better learn to use this camera

Creativity as a day job
Onyi is constantly researching ideas and on the lookout for locations or style elements. She mixes vintage objects and unusual surroundings with brand-supplied clothes and believes strongly in the power of beauty as a way to “offset the negative” in a world that can often drag us down emotionally. However, she determinedly treats her role as a ‘creative’ in a very business-like fashion, and while no two days look identical, routine, wellbeing and time-management are very much at front of mind. Each day begins and ends with journaling, as a way to spark awareness and ideas or draw a line under the day. In between, Onyi wears many hats, both literally and metaphorically. “I have to carve out time for these jobs – accountant, photographer, creative director – and treat it as a business to get to this level of success.” This also means that she is responsible for her own continued professional development and considers herself a lifelong learner, “always on the lookout for inspiration, new skills and improving my current work because I feel like there’s still so much that can be expanded on.” To this end, she has moved into making short films, sometimes with brands, but also as a way to challenge herself and connect with her audience. She has also ventured into music – writing, performing and releasing her first single, In Your Eyes, accompanied by a self-produced promotional video “just to accompany it. So far, my audience have been really kind, streaming it on Spotify and other places.”

A woman sits up in bed, with her back to the camera. She has shoulder length brown hair in a bob and wears a red satin camisole with white lace trim and holds what appears to be a notebook. Above the dark wood vintage rattan headboard is are pressed flowers in an octagonal dark wood frame.
“I wake up and journal, just to help me be more aware of my surroundings and be grateful for the things around me.” © Onyi Moss
A woman in a white suit and wide-brimmed straw hat sits in front of a blossoming tree. Her right hand is raised, and her eyes are closed. She wears two gold rings, two gold necklaces and gold drop earrings.
“You’ve got to take a chance on yourself. If you don’t no one else will. It’s your dream, you have to believe in your dream and take action.” © Onyi Moss

Mutual love and honesty
Her audience are the key to her success and Onyi makes sure she takes the time to connect with her followers, offering words of inspiration to them every day. She never ‘posts and runs’, instead chooses her words carefully and “carving out time” every day to reply to questions in her comments and direct messages. She also regularly opens up her Instagram stories, allowing her followers to ask her questions. With thousands potentially participating, this can be quite the task, but she’s pulled together an FAQ for anyone asking about how she shoots and edits her work. She also offers a bank of free resources for those interested in creating their own content. Onyi freely admits that it can be hard to keep up with the sheer volume of communications but takes time every day to answer them and does her best to respond. “It creates a great sense of connection,” she says.
She also treats her words and actions online with a deep sense of responsibility, understanding that she needs to be honest about the life she leads and lifestyle she enjoys. It’s incredibly important to Onyi to show a world that is beautiful, yes, but to do it with care, openness and disarming honesty. “It might look like I have a life of wealth and luxury,” she says. “But I make it clear that I’m able to afford this lifestyle because I work for a lot of brands and part of the deal is that I get things gifted to me and it makes my life a lot easier.” She is just as upfront with the brands she works with and makes it clear that she will not tell her followers to “go get this product”. “I just tell the story and it’s up to you – do you like it or not?”
You can follow Onyi on Instagram and stream her new single In Your Eyes on Spotify.

Written by Rachelle Baldwin

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