In the most calm and aesthetic way possible, Nayna Florence Patel's nostalgia-inspired vlogs are here to make you feel a sense of motivation and inspiration that you've never felt before. Accompanied by sweet lo-fi tunes and simple yet satisfying editing, there's a reason why Nayna's YouTube channel has amassed over 250,000 subscribers over the past 3 years.
Known for her friendly and relatable personality, the 21 year old economics student has been capturing the hearts of thousands through her videos about self care, university life and how to avoid overconsumption. With an impeccable sense of fashion and over 111,000 followers on her Instagram, @naynaflorence, Nayna is part of the new generation of conscious content creators.
We recently sat down with Nayna to talk about why she decided to start her YouTube channel, her inspirations and how she stays true to herself.
When did you start creating YouTube videos and what inspired you to start your channel?
I've always watched a lot of other people's videos on YouTube and I remember finding myself thinking about how I'd make that content or what sort of videos I would make. At the time, I was really scared and thought that people at school might think I was weird or make a joke out of my content. But because I was scared to do it, I thought it would be good for me to put myself out there and just try.
I remember making my first video when I was 16, I think it was a 'get ready with me' style video and I wanted people to ask me questions but, of course, at the time no one would so I was just making stuff up. I've since deleted that video but it really just started out as a fun thing to do on the school holidays.
You've never really expected your channel to grow to the size it is today. At what point did you realise your videos and content were starting to gain momentum and popularity?
Last summer is when I really started to focus on my YouTube content. They had cancelled all our university work due to COVID-19, so between March - September all I was doing was creating YouTube videos at home. I was creating really consistent videos and I actively tried to up my editing game. Because of this, my content was really well received and that summer I signed with my management company and since then I feel like I've had so many more opportunities.
I never anticipated being able to gain sponsorships out of creating YouTube videos. In fact, in the beginning, when people started subscribing I recall being like ''This isn't that good, why do you even want to follow?'' But I'm grateful that my subscribers have given me this incredible opportunity.
You have such a particular aesthetic and calmness about your videos! What inspires your content and how has it evolved over time?
I'm inspired a lot by my day-to-day life. If I spend a whole day outside I'll often come home with multiple ideas. Being in nature and journaling also helps me to come with ideas. However, often I'll start a video and not know where it's heading until half way through it'll start to gain direction and momentum.
When I first started making videos I got a few comments saying that they liked my editing style and I remember thinking ''What editing?! I'm literally just stitching videos together!'' Nowadays I definitely listen and edit to the music. In my mind I have a vision and particular vibe I want to portray in each video so I keep that in mind as well. I always try to stick to a simple, clean and minimal style of editing.
Do you have any particular creators that inspire you?
I've always loved Best Dressed (Ashley Rous) and her style of videos. I would even go as far to say that she revolutionised YouTube with her aesthetic and style of vlogs. It was quite unique at the time and distinctively different to other YouTubers like Emma Chamberlain who I also really like. I also love Linh Troung! You can tell by the way she edits her videos that she puts so much time and effort in each and every one. She literally hand draws so many graphics, it must take hours!
Do you have any tips for people that are wanting to start making videos and creating their own YouTube channel?
Stick to your guns and be consistent. The algorithm will more likely promote your content if you are uploading regularly. At the beginning I would only get 20 view on each of my videos and and I thought ''what is the point of this?'' But stick with it and power through!
Make content that you want to make and don't try to fit into a mould because you want people to like the content you like to make. Otherwise, you'll be stuck in a position making videos you don't even want to make. Your uniqueness is your power so stick to what you believe and like.
You are in your final year of your undergraduate economics degree at the University of Edinburgh. Do you have any plans for when you graduate and do you think you'll continue with YouTube?
I don't see myself directly working in economics related jobs but I see it being helpful for many other careers. I feel like if you want to make any large social changes you need to have a good understanding of economics. I have considered doing a masters but probably not in the near future. Ideally when I graduate I'll be able to take a year off to travel. I'd love to travel for six months and document the experiences through vlogs. I really want to go to India as I'm half Indian and I've only travelled there once as a child. I'd also love to go to China, Japan, Thailand, wherever honestly!
I definitely see myself making videos in the foreseeable future even if it's just for myself. I love to document my life even if it means I'm only putting out one video a month. I think that travel content would be really interesting but I'd also want to make sure that I'm living in the moment and not worrying about editing videos the whole time.
With all the projects you have between university, YouTube and your podcast (Growing with the Flow), how do you manage your time and get everything done?
I make a lot of to-do lists! I think for the most part I want to do everything on my schedule so it doesn't feel like a chore. YouTube and editing is a nice break from academics for me.
Sometimes I'll set myself a deadline that isn't the actual given deadline because I know that I need to prioritise certain tasks to get everything done in time. I never want to let one project slip because of another. I hate uploading anything that I'm not 100% happy with. I want everything to be intentional. However, sometimes I do need to tell myself to relax and take it easy so I don't get stressed.
With a significant following often comes pressure to live up to certain expectations. Do you think your social media following has influenced your lifestyle?
I never want to let anyone down because I know that everyone that has followed me has given me so many opportunities. I am also aware of the impact that I have on my audience but it's also really cool to be about to bring awareness to important messages like sustainability.
If I'm being honest, I don't have the willpower to do things for other people. If I think it's right and something I believe in, I'll do it, but if it's not, then I'm not going to bother promoting something I don't believe in. For example, I've been vegetarian and I've been vegan for the past 6 years so, in terms of diet, that is something I've always believed in and wasn't motivated by social media trends.
You're well-known for shopping sustainably and really promoting slow fashion, how did you get started?
I've always wanted to be more sustainable and I think seeing more creators showing how they shop and restyle clothes has really inspired me to shop more intentionally. It can be hard because of the convenience of fast fashion but I've reached a point now where I think sustainable fashion is more unique and fun.
Photo credit: Sarah Lazarovic
What are your top tips on how to consume more considerably?
There's a pyramid called the Buyerarchy of Needs that goes through the best way to get something you need. For example if you need a rug for your flat, start at the bottom of the pyramid with ''use what you have''. This may prompt you to see if your parents have an old rug in the attic that you could clean up and use. It's not as glamorous as buying new or even new sustainable items but it definitely makes you think before you buy.
Before I buy anything I always ask myself whether I'll like it in a year's time or even 5 years time. Is it something I really see myself loving in the long haul? If I'm buying something I really want to have it for life. Trend cycles happen so quickly and something you love one minute you may hate the next. So I also always ask myself whether I like it because it's on trend or because I think it's timeless and something I truly like.
I've also started investing in sustainable and higher quality pieces that will last a really long time. I recently got a midi black dress with flowers on it from Depop and I'm super obsessed with it. It's really simple and I think I'm going to be able to wear it for a really long time.
We know you love a good book, so do you have any must-read book recommendations?
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini is one of my all time favourite books.
What are your favourite places to eat out in London and Edinburgh?
London: Mildred's. It's all vegan and has really nice décor and overall good vibes. Edinburgh: Paradise Palms. All vegetarian with loads of great vegan options.
For all those that may be making a trip to London or Edinburgh any time soon, what are your must-go to spots to visit?
I really like Greenwich Park in London. You can get a really good view of the skyline there. And I really like Holyrood Park in Edinburgh. It has a really nice pond with swans in it and you can climb up on the rocks (I think it's called The Crags) and see the sea and the city.
If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
Taylor Swift! I genuinely love all her music and I feel like I've grown up with it. All her lyrics are so well thought out and I think we'd have a great time together!
What is something you do everyday that brings you joy?
Making my matcha in the morning! Sometimes when I'm just laying in bed with no motivation I remember that I can have my matcha if I get up and I find that it is almost a meditative thing to do. It only takes 30 seconds every morning.
And to finish, one word that simply describes Nayna?